I remember sitting in the movie theater watching Passion of the Christ. I was 19 and had heard about God my whole life and committed to following Him years before. But so often, when we read about the Bible, we can separate it in our minds. The sheer overwhelm of what Jesus’ death and resurrection really mean gets lost on us. We know it really happened but do we really grasp the fullness of that?
This year, for Easter Week, I wanted to walk through the locations Jesus walked through. I wanted to see the places he saw. And while I hope to visit one day in the future, for now, a quick google search had me on the brink of tears.
It’s not about exact locations (because there’s plenty unknown or debated about that). It’s simply being reminded that Jesus really walked this earth in the flesh. And he chose it! These circumstances didn’t happen to him because he was too weak.
As I watched the scenes of the crucifixion in the film, I made a mental note that I wrote in my Bible later that day.
“He could have gotten off the cross.”
He wasn’t held there by nails. He was held by a choice. A choice he made for us.
It was the only way for us to experience life with the Father for eternity. Recently, I heard some people of faith don’t believe the cross was necessary. What an absolute slap in the face to Jesus. It wasn’t busy work for earth. It changed everything.
One of my goals for the second quarter of the year is to read (or listen!) to the Bible in 90 days. It sounds crazy and it of course won’t be in-depth study but I’m excited to read through the Word with the focus being on seeing the full picture of the Word. Getting a clear reminder that everything leads up to or hinges on what we celebrate this very week.
And it wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t because Jesus got arrested and couldn’t talk his way out of it. It was part of the plan.
You might be experiencing one of those Good Friday moments in your own life. Just like the disciples watching Jesus crucified who had to feel hopeless and unsure of what was next. They had to feel like everything Jesus told them was falling apart. Surely this wasn’t what God had in mind.
But God is in control. We say that so often it almost doesn’t even register. He has a plan for your life and that doesn’t just mean he has a spouse or career mapped out for you. At the root of his plan for you is salvation and a life following Jesus. Nothing else matters without that.
If you want to follow Jesus, talk to a friend and read John or email us. We’d love to talk with you.
And if you’re near rolling your eyes because this feels like a 21-century altar call and you made that decision ages ago, will you pray for opportunities to share the gospel with someone this week? Will you commit to praying for three people for as long as it takes for them to come to know Christ?
Below is a little tour through some of the locations where scholars speculate that the events of Holy Week may have happened. Tip: You might want to come back to this blog post when you have a quiet moment to prayerfully reflect on the Scriptures included with each location.
Matthew 21:1-11 says,
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Mark 14:12-15, 22-26 says,
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mark 14:32-36 says,
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Matthew 27:32-37, 45-54 says,
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
John 20:1-18 says,
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Hope you have a very Happy Easter celebrating our risen Savior!