Easter is my favorite holiday. I love remembering that Heaven is my home because my Beloved Savior conquered death! What a reason to rejoice! At Easter, I focus less on decorating (at Christmas, I go wild with decorating!) and more on drawing near to God. Yes, we have fun and feasting in our house, but we also set aside time to focus on each part of the Holy Week saga.
All the Gospels in the New Testament devote several chapters to the last week of Jesus’ life. After all, there was so much going on that final week when Jesus took the sins of the whole world on Himself and died for us. Satan thought he won, but he lost! Jesus rose from the dead on the third day!
Without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity! Jesus’ death and resurrection are the foundation of our faith! Because Jesus died and rose again, we can face life and death with confidence and hope! Easter is a great reason to celebrate!
When Holy Week and Easter roll around, I want my children to learn about and celebrate everything! Besides being real history, this week is foundational for our faith in Jesus. So, let me give you a birds’ eye view of the last week of Jesus life and ways to celebrate with your family.
All of the Bible stories and Scripture passages listed for each event are great to read aloud or meditate on. You might want to choose one passage or use all three!
You don’t have to celebrate Palm Sunday on Sunday; you can do it on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. The days are not important. What is important is to focus on each aspect of the last week of Jesus’ pre-resurrection life!
Dinner with Simon
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-9
Starting on Saturday, Jesus dines with Simon the Leper in Bethany. Bethany was where Lazarus, whom he had just raised from the dead, and his sisters Mary and Martha lived. Anyway, while Martha serves, Mary pours expensive perfume on Jesus feet and wipes them with her hair. Jesus says that she has anointed Him for burial and commends her. What a beautiful display of extravagant worship!
Family Fun: Give one another foot rubs
Triumphal Arrival in Jerusalem
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19
On Sunday, Jesus rides into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people are so excited, they worship Him, as well as spreading cloaks and palm branches on the ground for Him to ride over. Jesus is proclaimed KING! He enters in humility, foreshadowing the way He would humble Himself by washing the disciples feet, enduring torture, and dying for our sins!
Family Fun: Dress up and act out the Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem
Clearing the Temple
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48
After the triumphal entry, Jesus heads to the temple with His disciples. Jesus is disgusted to see the corrupt money changers in His temple that should be a House of Prayer. He overturns their tables in righteous anger. Afterward, He heals the blind and lame before returning to Bethany for the night.
Family Fun: Jesus cleaned up the temple so have everyone clean their rooms
Scripture to Read & Study: Exodus 12:1-36, Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-31, John 13, I Corinthians 11:23-25
On Thursday, Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples in the upper room. While they celebrate, Jesus institutes Communion, explaining how the bread represents His body and the wine represents His blood. He also washes the disciples’ feet, giving them a new commandment to love one another as He loves them.
The disciples sing a hymn and leave for the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prays to the Father.
If you have never done so, this is a great time to celebrate the Passover. Here are two blogs posts you might find helpful: Five Easy Ways to Celebrate Passover for Every Christian from Ever Thine Home and Christian Passover from Happy Passover.
Family Fun: Celebrate a Passover Seder together or Wash one another’s feet
Prayer in the Garden, Betrayal, Arrest
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:26-52, Luke 22:39-54, John 15:1-18:14
Jesus and His disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane after celebrating the Passover where Jesus prays earnestly and the disciples fell asleep. He asks God to take away the cup of suffering but surrenders to His Father’s will. He also prays for all those who will believe in Him in the future. He prayed for you and me! Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss and then soldiers arrest Jesus. Peter defends Jesus by cutting off a servant’s ear. Jesus heals the ear.
Family Fun: Decorate Easter Eggs
Family Activity: Pray together for 1 hour—is it hard to stay focused like it was for the disciples who fell asleep?
Trial, & Torture, & Death
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 26:57-27:32, Mark 14:53-15:37, Luke 22:54-23:25, John 18:12-19:15
Taken to the Sanhedrin, the high priest and elders can find no evidence against Jesus until He admits that He is the Christ. Then Peter denies Jesus and Judas kills himself. Jesus is sent to Pilate who finds nothing to charge Him with, yet the crowds demand Jesus’ death. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and tortured.
Family Activity: Role play Jesus’ trail—only one of your family members has to be Jesus’ lawyer. Discuss why Jesus didn’t defend Himself.
Crucifixion & Death
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 27:33-56, Mark 15:22-37, Luke 23:26-46, John 19:16-30
A crown of thorns is placed on His head and he has to carry His cross to Golgotha where He is nailed to the cross. While on the cross, one criminal believes and receives eternal life. Jesus also asked John to take care of his mother. From noon to 3 p.m., darkness coveres the land. After Jesus dies, the temple curtain is torn in two and dead people who had loved the Lord rise up from their graves and are alive again.
When my children were little, they dressed up and acted out the entire Holy Week story for the adults. Now that they are older, we usually have a time of prayer and singing, focused on the cross, after reading the very long passages about His arrest, death, and burial. We usually watch The Passion of the Christ now that my kids are older.
Family Activity: Worship together at 3 p.m., the time that Jesus died.
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 26:57-66, Mark 14:40-47, Luke 23: 50-56, John 19:31-42
His mother Mary and some other women prepare Jesus’ body for burial and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrap the body and place it in a new tomb. A set of guards is posted at the tomb.
On Saturday, Jesus lays dead inside the tomb. Saturday is a great day to fast and meditate on the entire last week of Jesus’ life, thanking Him for His love and sacrifice.
Family Fun: Make preparations for Easter celebration tomorrow
Scripture to Read & Study: Matthew 28:1-15, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20:1-18
Sunday dawns, new life is discovered by the women at the tomb when they find it empty early in the morning and see Jesus after His resurrection first. They tell the disciples who run to the tomb and see the strips of linen in an empty tomb. Satan’s plan to kill the Lord of Glory is destroyed, along with sin and death. Jesus rises from the dead, the Victorious One! He appears to His disciples many times over the next 40 days before He ascends into Heaven.
Now is the time to dance, shout, and sing! Rejoice in the fact that Jesus paid the price demanded by a Holy God for our sin. He conquered death and rose from the grave. Celebrate with feasting, games for the children, and times of rejoicing in worship! A new outfit, festively decorated eggs, and decorating with the colors of spring all symbolize the new life we have in Christ!
Family Fun: Enjoy a family feast, act out the Resurrection story, or have an Easter egg hunt in the backyard
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam, all die, so in Christ all will be made alive!” (I Corinthians 15:20-22 NIV)
“Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (I Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV)
Rejoice in the VICTORY of the Resurrection this Easter! May His Joy be overflowing
FREE Celebrate Easter Devotions here. (Scripture passages, prophecies fulfilled, songs, activities, and prayer focus for 15 days)
“Christ the Lord is Risen today! Alleluia. Our triumphant holy day! Alleluia.
Raise your joys and triumphs high! Alleluia. Sing ye heavens and earth reply. Alleluia.”
(Christ the Lord is Risen Today by Charles Wesley)
Happy Easter from our house to yours!