The best way to prepare our hearts for Easter is to walk with Jesus through the Scriptures from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Resurrection Day. Reading any one of the four gospels will provide a valuable perspective on Passion Week, but no one gospel covers every detail of the story. To get a complete picture of each day, it is helpful to read selected portions.
Jesus makes his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
Read: Luke 19:28-44
Jesus cleanses the temple, infuriating the religious leaders. “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11:17).
Read: Mark 11:12-19
The religious leaders challenge Jesus’ authority and try to trap him in several difficult theological debates. Jesus condemns them for their hypocrisy.
Read: Luke 20:1-21:39 and Matthew 23:1-39
The religious leaders plot to kill Jesus. When Jesus allows a woman to anoint Him with very expensive oil, Judas Iscariot offers to betray him. “Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray Him), said, ‘Why wasn’t this fragrant oil sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?’ … Jesus answered, ‘Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of My burial’” (John 12:4-5, 7, HCSB).
Read: Matthew 26:1-16
Jesus celebrates Passover with his disciples in what is now called the Last Supper. Then, he goes to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas hands him over to the authorities. “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Read: Matthew 26:17-75 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
The Jewish mob pressures Pilate, the Roman governor, to sentence Jesus to death. He is crucified and buried. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18).
Read: Matthew 27:1-61, Luke 22:54-23:56, and Isaiah 52:13-53:12
The disciples mourn the death of Jesus while the Roman guard secures his tomb. The women “prepared spices and ointments” to anoint Jesus’ body “and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
Read: Matthew 27:62-66 and Romans 6:3-11
The women go to Jesus’ tomb but find it empty. An angel announces that “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6), and they hurry back to tell the others. Later, Jesus appears to His disciples.
Read: Luke 24:1-49 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-11