Throughout the Easter week, we’re walking with Jesus as he prepares his disciples for what is to come with his trial, death and resurrection.
Although Jesus was speaking to His friends about the importance of being prepared for challenges and difficult times, who could possibly have expected what was to come for them and for their master?
Who could have possibly expected what we are facing in our world these days? But as we listen carefully and prayerfully to what Jesus and his disciples experienced during this passion week, we will know again that Jesus has been preparing us too.
As we look together to his Word and listen to his voice, we can find guidance in the midst of our confusion, new meaning in our own struggles and sorrows, and new hope for our assured victories.
“I have told you these things,
so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
– Jesus speaking to His disciples before His death. John 16:33
Monday, April 6
Jesus Weeps Over the City
As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
– Luke 19:41-42
It was a confusing time. Jesus and His disciples are heading toward Jerusalem, and there is a grand welcome as they approach the city! Although the disciples were worried about coming to this big city where Jesus had a lot of enemies, it looks like things might be okay after all. So many people greet them and want Him to be their King.
The disciples might have been fooled by this burst of public support, but Jesus wasn’t. Walking past the cheering crowds, Jesus stands quietly on a hill overlooking the city and weeps. He is weeping because although He has tried to tell people the truth about who He is and who the Father is, people still don’t believe that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He knows that there will be really difficult times ahead and people will try and figure out their problems on their own without the assurance of a loving and able Heavenly Father to give them strength and guidance.
It is a confusing time today. Jesus is weeping over our city and cities around the world. So many people are facing frightening and difficult times and do not know the One who can bring them peace. It is hidden from their eyes. Jesus still wants people to know that He is the One who can bring them peace and He wants us to be praying that with Him.
Thank you that you care so deeply for us and our city. We pray that we would know what can bring us peace – that we would know you, – because you are our peace. Father, I pray for my city, and all the cities of the people praying with us today. Give wisdom to our city leaders and help them make right choices. Help us to be good neighbours to one another.
- That we would show and share the love of Jesus with people who don’t know who he is or how he can help
- That Jesus would bring peace and health to our city and the cities of the world
- That the mayors and leaders of our city would be wise and good and know what will bring peace to their city
- That people would care for their neighbours in every city around the world
Complete the following prayer quiz by looking up information online about your city and the cities of the world that Jesus wants to bring peace to.
What is the name of the Mayor and the City Councillor where you live? Pray for them by name.
Name one thing that makes you sad about your city. Talk to Jesus about it.
What is the population of your city? Thank God – he knows everyone by name.
Name five neighbours that live on your street/floor. Ask God to give you an idea about how you can be a good neighbour to each of them.
Find the names of the capital cities of the following countries and pray that followers of Jesus in these cities will be peacemakers: Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Italy, China.
Tuesday, April 7
Jesus Teaches His Followers
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
– Matthew 22:33
Jesus would often tell stories in order to help people understand important lessons. In the week before He goes to the cross, three of these parable stories are recorded in the gospel of Matthew Chapters 21-22. Take a moment and read one of these stories:
- The Parable of the Two Sons: Matthew 21:28-32
- The Parable of the Tenants: Matthew 21:33-41
- The Parable of the Wedding Banquet: Matthew 22:1-14
Sometimes when stories become very familiar, or when we have celebrated a holiday for many years, we don’t let it change our attitudes or the way we live. As we prepare to celebrate Easter again this year, so much has changed in our lives and in our world. The unusual circumstances of our lives may help us to hear these stories in a new way and to rethink our priorities, our choices and our opportunities. Prayerfully consider what the story you chose is telling you, and ask Jesus how He is inviting you to live differently in light of His salvation.
Thank you for the truth in your Word that speaks into our lives today.
Help us to trust your wisdom because we do not know what tomorrow will hold.
Help us to hear what you are saying to us by your Spirit.
Help us to follow through on our promises and commitments.
May our priorities be your priorities, Lord.
May we accept and share the invitations You give us.
We pray that the truths revealed in Your Word would be heard around the world.
- That the Spirit would help us to understand the Bible
- That we would keep the promises and commitments we have made
- That our priorities would be in line with what Jesus teaches
- That the people of _________ (choose a country) would hear and accept the teachings of Jesus
- That we would include and invite others to celebrate Easter – even online!
Choose a parable that Jesus taught and retell it:
- in your own words
- draw it
- act it out
- create a graphic strip
- create a slideshow
However you choose to retell it, think about its meaning again.
Wednesday, April 8
Jesus is Betrayed by His Friend
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
– Matthew 26:49-50
On Wednesday of Easter Week, Judas makes the horrible decision that he will betray Jesus – his friend and teacher. He goes to the chief priests and accepts money to turn Jesus over to them, knowing that they will kill Jesus. The bible isn’t clear why Judas makes such a hurtful decision. We do know that he regrets his decision bitterly afterwards.
We don’t always understand why people choose to hurt and offend others, even their friends. Perhaps you have been hurt or betrayed by someone that you trusted – a friend, or perhaps a family member.
Judas’ betrayal led to Jesus’ death. Around the world, people are still betrayed by people they trust. In some countries where it is against the law to follow Jesus, neighbours, or family members report Christians and it can lead to their imprisonment and/or death. For us, the betrayal of a friend may not mean that we are imprisoned, but it still could leave a very deep hurt and make it difficult for us to trust others.
And yet, we see that Jesus still called Judas “friend”, even after his betrayal. It is hard to pray for people that have hurt us, but Jesus asks us to “pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). Praying for people who have hurt us not only helps them, but it gives Jesus an opportunity to heal our own hurts.
Thank you that you didn’t just tell us what we should do,
but You showed us how to live.
Thank You that because You are alive in us,
we can forgive others as You forgave Judas.
We pray for believers who have been betrayed
by people they trusted
Help them to forgive and not become angry and resentful.
Help us to forgive others who have mistreated us,
and please heal our hurts.
- That people will not make choices that hurt others
- That Christians who have been betrayed by others would be able to forgive those who have hurt them
- That we would be able to forgive people who have hurt us
- That you would heal our hurts from people who have betrayed us
Use the World Watch Guide to identify a place where Christians are often betrayed by people they trust. Pray for believers in that country to not become bitter, but to forgive those who have betrayed them. Identify someone who has betrayed you. Pray for both that person and for yourself to not become bitter, and to forgive. You may choose to:
- write them a letter
- talk with them
- create a list of people you trust or characteristics of a trustworthy person
Thursday, April 9
Jesus Gives His Friends a Special Way to Remember Him
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
– Luke 22:19
Jesus wanted his disciples to remember Him, and to always remember that He had given His life to bring them new life. And so, on the night before He was crucified He brought new meaning to a very special dinner.
The Passover meal was celebrated every year so the Jewish people could remember how God had saved their lives in Egypt. Jesus transforms this ceremony into a celebration of the salvation He would provide by giving His life on the cross.
He asks the disciples to remember Him every time they eat and drink – to remember the life He has brought them by giving His body and His blood. Today, we call this ceremony Communion because we remember Jesus who died and now lives with us forever.
It is a significant ceremony we celebrate regularly when we gather as a church, but it can also be a meaningful act of individual worship. When we remember Jesus through the practice of Communion, we are assured again of his complete provision for everything we need for life and godliness. When we are feeling separated from others, or separated from God, Jesus invites us to remember His presence with us through this simple but profound celebration.
Thank you for your promise to be with us always.
Help me to remember You every day.
Forgive me for my sins
– when I have done what is wrong,
and when I have failed to do what is right.
As I spend these special moments remembering You,
help me to experience the truth of the new life
You have given me by dying and rising again.
You have overcome death and have given us eternal life.
Please take away our fear and restore our joy.
- For reconciliation with anyone who has anything against us
- That we would know the unity and provision we have because Jesus gave His body on the cross
- That we would know the deep forgiveness Jesus provided by His shed blood
- That we would remember Jesus’ presence with us, and in us, constantly
Prepare for the special time of communion we will have together as a church family, at our Good Friday services (9:15 AM, 11:30 AM & 2:00 PM).
Prepare your heart:
- Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
- Take a moment in silent prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to show you if there is something in your heart that would keep you from experiencing the truth of communion with Christ
- Sing or listen to a favourite worship song
- Read the words Jesus spoke to us in John 14:15-21
Prepare your Communion elements:
- You can use what you have in your kitchen
- Choose a plate or tray to set your elements upon
- Take your bread (or anything you have) and thank Jesus for giving his body for our provision and unity with others
- Take your juice (or another beverage you have) and thank Jesus for shedding his blood for our forgiveness and salvation
- Set these items aside for our online time together tomorrow at 9:15 AM, 11:30 AM & 2:00 PM
Friday, April 10
Love on the Cross
“Woman here is your son”… “Here is your mother”
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
– Jesus speaks from the cross
Jesus did not go to the cross because of an obligation to the plan of his Father. He did not do it just because it was the right or honorable thing to do. From first to last he was motivated by deep love.
At the worst point of his suffering, it is amazing, but understandable, that he would care for those closest to him – his mother and his best friend. “Woman here is your son”… “Here is your mother.”
It is beyond understanding however, that he could still love a stranger and comfort a thief. after everything he had been through, while hanging from a cross. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
And then, having been abandoned, betrayed, mocked, and beaten – his dying thoughts were of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
There were so many reasons Jesus could have, and should have, stopped caring, stopped forgiving, stopped loving, but he didn’t. Jesus went to the cross because he loved us and he died on the cross still loving us.
We can always find reasons not to love – our own hurt, our own struggles, our own fears. There is only one reason to love – because he first loved us. He gave his life so that we could love others as he loves us.
Your undying love makes it possible for us to love.
You understand our struggles and our hurt.
You know how difficult is to love, to care, and to forgive others when we have been wronged, or when life is very difficult.
We ask for strength to love in every circumstance of our lives.
Help us to care for our family and friends.
Help us to reach out to strangers and help when we can, without judging them or looking down on them.
Help us to forgive those who have hurt us.
- That we would understand why Jesus died for us
- That with Jesus’ love we would take good care of our family and our friends
- That with Jesus’ grace we would not turn away from strangers who need our help
- That with Jesus’ peace we would forgive those who have hurt us
Pray today using the words of Jesus:
“Here is your son – here is your mother”
- Pray for families who are spending a lot of time together or far away from each other that they would know that each member of their family is given to them as a gift from God
- Pray for those who have lost their family, that believers would be a new family for them
“Today you will be with me in paradise”
- Pray for the salvation of those who are dying that they will reach out for the grace and salvation of Jesus
“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”
- Pray for those on the news that are doing things you believe to be wrong. Instead of cursing them, pray forgiveness and wisdom, and that they would know God’s will
Saturday, April 11
When Things Don’t Turn Out as You Expected
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house.
– John 20:19
How do you feel when things turn out worse than you ever expected? We often describe the disciples as “waiting” on the Saturday between Jesus’ death and resurrection. But they weren’t waiting – they were despairing. They weren’t expectant – they were terrified. Jesus’ death seemed a tragic ending to all they had hoped for.
We are not explicitly told how the disciples spent Saturday, but on Sunday we see them gathered fearfully behind locked doors, unable to believe any good news that comes to them. What we do know with certainty is that they had not expected Saturday. Despite Jesus’ frequent warnings and honest disclosure, nothing could have adequately prepared them for the devastation they undoubtedly felt on Saturday.
Jesus clearly says, “In this world you will have troubles…” but when these troubles come, it still feels like we’ve been blindsided, ambushed, tricked, or cheated. When things don’t turn out as we expected we are left feeling angry, fearful, and confused. We want to hide away, just like the disciples on Easter Saturday.
We will all face times in our lives when it seems like something we hoped for is taken from us, or something we had worked for fails. There will be many situations in our lives that seem like tragic endings, like Easter Saturday.
But in light of what the next day certainly holds, the message of Easter Saturday has become for all time, “it will all be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end”.
There are times when I feel hurt and disappointed.
There are times when I want to give up because things don’t look like what I hoped for.
Please help me to not give up.
Please help me to trust you even when I don’t understand why something has happened in a way that feels so wrong.
I believe that you can bring good out of every situation in my life, through the same power that raised you from the dead.
Even when things look hopeless to me, my hope is in you my risen Saviour.
- That people would not turn away from God when difficult situations happen in their lives
- For healing and hope for those who are suffering
- That God would give comfort and strength to those who have been waiting in hard circumstances for a long time
Ask God to help you think of someone who is going through a difficult time in their life. Then ask Him to give you a creative idea about how you can encourage that person to not lose heart.
Sunday, April 12
They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?” Then they looked up and saw that it had been rolled back.
– Mark 16:3-4
Why do we still feel that it is up to us to figure out solutions to the challenges we face? The women who came to Jesus’ tomb on Easter Sunday were determined to stay faithful and continue to do what was right no matter what. Despite their faithfulness, they were worried as they approached Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning.
They faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in their plans to anoint Jesus’ body – the massive rock that covered his tomb. The bible says, “they worried out loud to each other”. That’s often how we react to situations that don’t have easy solutions, we worry out loud to each other. The next line of the story says, “Then they looked up, and saw that it had been rolled back”.
“Looking up” is a hopeful, expectant, seeking posture. Looking up reminds us that there is one who is far stronger, wiser and more able than we are – and He is already working out a solution on our behalf.
God wants us to be as obedient and faithful as those women who went to the tomb anyway, even when they didn’t know how they would possibly accomplish their goal. God invites us to obey without worrying among ourselves. We can trust him to already have a solution for the parts of the plan we can’t accomplish, if we continue to simply do our part by obeying in the ways that we can.
You are risen indeed!
You have overcome anything that could come against us.
You are all-powerful, and all-loving.
Help us to obey you without worrying.
But even when we are worried Lord, help us to obey you anyway.
We look up to you with trust.
- Praising God that Jesus is risen
- Asking God to help us be obedient even when there seem to be obstacles in our way
- Confessing our worries to you
- Trusting that God will reveal his plan to us when we obey him
Plant something today (indoors or outdoors) to celebrate your relationship with Almighty God who gives new life. Remember that we must plant and water the seed, but only God can make it grow.