By Daniel Renstrom, Assistant Pastor
Christians around the world will celebrate the once-for-all death and resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday this week. Baptists often aren’t all that into the traditional church calendar—and sometimes for good reasons. Some of the days in the calendar, for example, seem too tied to the Catholic Church for many Baptists.
Even so, we Baptists believe in Jesus—the Christ who died for sinners—and the last week of his life receives lots of attention in the New Testament Gospels. With that thought in mind, here is a quote I came across this week by John Stott: “The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified” (The Cross of Christ, 273).
When I read that, it was a wonderful reminder to me that Christ’s church should concentrate on the last week of Christ’s life—what the church has for centuries called “Holy Week.” That week of anticipation for Easter Sunday isn’t just an excuse to get more visitors, or to put enormous purple banners on display. The heart of Holy Week is Jesus—the Lamb that was led to the slaughter, who was crushed for our guilt, but who was raised from the dead on the third day in victory.
Resurrection Sunday is the culmination of all of these events. Christ’s last week—from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday—is, in fact, the reason that we can commune daily with our God. And, this is why we should set aside this special time to remember Holy Week. At FBC Durham, we have a special service, usually on Maundy Thursday, to meditate on the events that took place just before Christ’s crucifixion. We’ve done this because we think it’s important to remember and meditate upon the last week of Christ’s ministry prior to his arrest, death, burial and resurrection.
But I would also urge you to consider personally spending time reflecting on the abundant reasons to worship Christ this week.
Last week, I put together a few things that I plan on doing the rest of this week in order to meditate on the events—and the central focus of—Holy Week, and I thought it might be beneficial to share it with the readers of our blog. So here’s what I’m personally doing, and I would be delighted if you would join with me in doing these things.
First, I plan on reading all four Gospels’ accounts of Christ’s last week before the resurrection. As you read these, ask God to help you have a deeper understanding of these incredible events, and that this knowledge would lead you to worship Christ. (Here are the scripture references: Matthew 21:1–9; 26:1–28:10; Mark 11:1–11; 14:1–16:8; Luke 19:28–40; 22:1–24:12; and John 12:12–13:38; 17:1–20:10.)
Another way that I plan on focusing on Holy Week is by reading portions of good books about those events. Two books in the past that I’ve found particularly helpful on this subject are Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper, and Christ our Mediator: Finding Passion at the Cross by C.J. Mahaney. If you have an e-reader, you can begin reading these about as soon as you get done reading this post!
Lastly, I also plan on listening to some songs that focus on Holy Week. These songs listed below are ones that I love to listen to year-round, but I’ll be giving them a few extra listens this week:
“Beautiful, Scandalous Night” by Robbie Seay:
“All Things New” by Andrew Peterson:
“Hosanna” by Andrew Peterson:
“You Have Been Raised” by Sovereign Grace:
“Christ is Risen from the Dead” by Matt Maher:
“Death in His Grave” by John Mark McMillan: