Through this final week of Lent, we’ll pray through the last days of Jesus’ life, specifically focusing on the passion of Christ. Passion comes from Latin and means to suffer, and Christ Himself tells us He suffered so “that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.” When we believe and love Him as our God, our hearts will overflow with worship and gratitude for fulfilling our greatest need in Christ. Our Savior will faithfully fulfill each and every prophecy and promise He’s made, so we worship Him for what He has done and for what He will do.
As you pray through these Scriptures, continue to respond to the immeasurable grace and love of God in sending Jesus as our Savior.
Pray through and deeply consider the implications of:
The Plot to kill Jesus
“When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.” Matthew 26:1-4
The Passover Feast
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’” Matthew 26:26-29
While the Jews were plotting to kill Jesus, He didn’t try to stop them. Instead, He spent time with His friends, the ones who would grieve His death most, and gave them a way to remember Him. Jesus was also thinking about you on that night, giving you a way to remember His sacrifice. What does this stir in you? How does this make you want to worship Jesus? Talk to God about it.
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him…. And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow… [He] said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.’”
Luke 22:39, 41-45; Mark 14:41-42
Betrayed and Captured
“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples left him and fled.” Matthew 26:47-56
Jesus chose this life, He handpicked the friends He knew wouldn’t be bothered to stay awake to pray for Him in His greatest hour of need. Jesus choose to love a friend who would betray Him for just a few dollars. Jesus choose to willinging be taken to an unjust death because He already had you in mind. At any point Jesus could have stopped this; instead He choose to enter rejection, betrayal, broken relationships, and unjust death so He could be the Rescuer of the hurting. How does this view of these passages change the way you see and experience Jesus? Spend time worshiping him and listening to the Spirit draw your heart to treasure Jesus.
Jesus Before the Council
“And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. … Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree… And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?’ But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death.” Mark 14:53, 55- 56, 60-64
A Murderer Chosen over Jesus
“Pilate [the governor] then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him…But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ [The people] cried out again, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber…who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.” Luke 23:13-16; John 18:39-40; Luke 23:19
Jesus was so hated that His own people choose to release a violent murderer instead of Him. Witness after witness showed up to make up lies about Him in attempt to convict Jesus to death. What must this have been like for Jesus? He is fully God and fully man, He felt the sting of every betraying word. Talk to Him about this, ask Him to make this story real and tangible to you.
Jesus is Mocked
“Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’ When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.’ John 19:1-6
“And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” Mark 15:22-33
Jesus was mocked and ridiculed by those who knew Him. These were people He loved. Every word must have cut deeper and deeper, perhaps more painful than His body nailed to a tree. And yet, He was silent. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth,” Isaiah 53:7. When have you mocked his love? Let the Spirit open your eyes to the Easter story in a new way.
The Death of Jesus
“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” Luke 23:44-45a
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and…cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” John 19:28-30; Matthew 27:50-54
Close your eyes and imagine these verses. Talk to God about each detail. This was the darkest day in all of history, even the sun refused to shine. Jesus died your death, as his body was torn, so was the curtain in the temple. What does that teach you about our God?
Jesus is Buried
“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” John 19:38-42
These two men, who had known Jesus but been too afraid of the Pharisees to follow Him in the past, choose to give Jesus a beautiful burial. Joseph of Arimathea likely gave up his own burial site to bury His God. These men spared no expense. This was their act of worship. They choose to hide their love for Jesus no longer. How will you choose to worship Jesus this weekend? Going forward? Talk to God about it, be specific.
The Guard at the Tomb
“The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.” Matthew 27:61-66
“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’” Matthew 28:1-10
The Great Commission
“And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:17-20
Close your eyes and imagine what it was like to be one of the women saw Jesus first. As they ran to tell the disciples, believing and bursting with joy, Jesus met them. Talk to God about these women’s reponse. Ask Him to help you believe and rejoice in a way that makes you fall at His feet and worship.
Talk to God about the Great Commision. He has called you to act, but promises to be with you always. Talk to him about what this stirs in you? How does this make you want to respond to Him?
Called to Believe
“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’” Matthew 28:18-20
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
How has God helped you in your doubt? How has God invited you to ask questions instead of rejecting you for them? Talk to Him about this. Ask questions you may have. Respond to Him as the God who invites you to believe, even without all of the answers.
“Then [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” Luke 24:50-53
Close your eyes and imagine Jesus Ascending into heaven. Jesus is sitting on the throne at the right hand of the Father. Does this make you want to respond like the disciples, worshiping, filled with joy, sharing the gospel and blessing God in community? Take time to reflect on your time with God this Lenten Season. Talk to God about it, respond in worship to Him this Easter Sunday.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 22:20-21