Preparing for Holy Week

journeywise

Preparing for Holy Week

March 15, 2024
Dr. David Watson
Holy Week is the centerpiece of the Christian year. During this week, we celebrate the events leading to his crucifixion and resurrection.

  • On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem, when he was hailed by the crowds with loud shouts of “Hosanna!” (Matt 21:1-10; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19).
  • On Maundy Thursday we remember Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, his last meal with them, and his new commandment, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34)
  • Good Friday marks Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins (Matt 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:4449; John 19:28-30).
  • Holy Saturday commemorates the day that Jesus lay in the tomb. Some Christians associate this day with the “harrowing of hell,” in which Jesus brought salvation to some of the people who died before he came.
  • Easter, the holiest day of the Christian year, is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Matt 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:2-10), the sure sign of his victory over sin and death.

How can we prepare our hearts for this holiest of weeks? Through forty days of Lent we focus on self-examination and repentance. The practice of giving up something for Lent or fasting during this time is connected with our repentance. We begin this season with Ash Wednesday, during which we practice the imposition of ashes on our foreheads and receive the solemn reminder, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The wages of sin is death. These mortal bodies will fail. Our only hope is to repent and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ.

We mourn, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thes 4:13). Our repentance points us forward to that moment when Christ displayed his victory over death by rising from the grave. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, dust is not our end. In Christ we are a new life in the present and eternal life in the age to come. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5).

To prepare for Holy Week, then, we repent. We fast. We pray. And we prepare our hearts to receive with boundless gratitude the gift of new life we have in Jesus Christ.