Why would we celebrate Palm Sunday on the first Sunday of Lent? Because Holy Week is a sacred time for Christians everywhere; but the week passes by so quickly that we don’t have the time to reflect deeply on what it means. Instead of cramming our reflection time into one schedule-packed week of special services, we are going to slow down and spend the entire season of Lent on the events that took place during Holy Week.
It just makes good sense that if Jesus' final week begins on Palm Sunday in Jerusalem that we begin there. Each week afterwards we will spend our time examining a day-by-day account of what Jesus did during his final week before his crucifixion and resurrection.
What Kind of King is Jesus? (Mark 11:1-11)
Trouble in the Temple (Mark 11:12-19)
Conflict and More Conflict (Mark 11:20-13:37)
The Need for a Traitor (Mark 14:1-11)
A Last Supper and Gethsemane (Mark 14:12-71)
The Crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 15:1-41)
Easter Sunday: Resurrection (Mark 16:1-8)
As I was planning and preparing for this series, I read a helpful book called The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. This book helped me think about the final week in the life of Jesus in a new way, and would prove a stimulating read for small groups to study throughout the series.
Our primary source for this series, however, is the Gospel of Mark.
Why Mark? Because Mark was the first Gospel written and the other gospel writers used Mark as a source themselves.
The congregation should be encouraged to prepare and participate in the following ways:
- Read the final week on your own in Mark 11:1-16:8.
- Spend time each day praying about what you have read.
- Be present each week and expect to hear from God.
- Join a small group studying The Last Week.
I’m excited about this series for many reasons. I’m certain that we are going to be challenged in new ways by the life and teaching of Jesus. We may even have some long-held beliefs about Jesus and the Kingdom of God overturned. I’m praying that this rather unorthodox approach will make Easter much more meaningful this year as we explore some big questions, like:
- What actually happened during the Final Week of Jesus’ life?
- Why were the religious authorities threatened by him?
- Why did the disciples desert him in his hour of need?
- Why was he crucified as a common criminal?
And more importantly, what does it all mean for me as I follow Christ in my own time?