Holy Week 2020 – Bible Readings and Devotions

Garden of Olives – Gethsemane, Jerusalem


Read: Isaiah 42:1-9, John 12:1-11


The reading from Isaiah is one of the “servant songs” that prophetically foretell the work of the Messiah. He is one in whom the Lord delights, and his ultimate work is to bring justice to the world. John 12 reminds us of the cost of Jesus’ sacrifice, and the worship we must offer to him. How do these truths affect you as you prepare to remember his death and resurrection?


O God,
the Redeemer of all who trust in you:
heed the cry of your people,
and deliver us from the bondage of sin,
that we may serve you in perfect freedom
and rejoice in your unfailing love;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Inside the Basilica of the Agony – Gethsemane, Jerusalem


Read: Isaiah 49:1-7, John 12: 20-36


Another “servant song” from Isaiah reminds us that even though the nations despise the messiah, he has come to bring them light, and salvation to the ends of the earth. As things intensify for Jesus in John 12, as his “hour” comes, he knows that his “glory” and the salvation of the nations is beyond the pain of the cross. Such is his love for us all. Spend time today giving thanks for his sacrifice.


Everlasting God,
in your tender love for the human race
you sent your Son to take our nature,
and to suffer death upon the cross:
in your mercy
enable us to share in his obedience to your will
and in the glorious victory of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Betrayal of Jesus – mosaic inside the Basilica of the Agony, Jerusalem


Read: Isaiah 50:4-9, John 13:21-32


His betrayal by one so close, foretold in John 13, would have been so painful for Jesus. But even as the Messiah faces his darkest hour, the Lord God contends for him. This “song” from Isaiah must have given Jesus comfort as he moved through that final week of his earthly life. Meditate on the cost of sacrifice and service.


God of all,
you gave your only-begotten Son
to take the form of a servant,
and to be obedient even to death on a cross:
give us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus
that, sharing in his humility,
we may come to be with him in his glory,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Celebrating communion, just as Jesus did with his disciples


Read: Exodus 12:1-14, John 13: 1-20


Maundy Thursday reminds of the powerful symbolism of that final meal Jesus had with his disciples. With all the echoes of salvation in the Passover meal, Jesus’ own exodus tomorrow brings our salvation. Consider how he served his disciples and continues to serve us today.


O God,
your love was embodied in Jesus Christ,
who washed the disciples’ feet
on the night of his betrayal:
wash us from the stain of sin,
so that, in hours of danger, we may not fail,
but follow your Son through every trial,
and praise him always as Lord and Christ,
to whom be glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The Damascus Gate – Jerusalem


Read: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, John 18:1-19:42


As you reflect today on his death as recounted by John, take the time to re-read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 to meditate on his life-giving sacrifice. Spend time entering into the story and ask the Lord to let you see it with fresh eyes. Let the tears of gratitude flow.


O merciful God,
you have made all people
and you hate nothing that you have made,
nor desire the death of sinners,
but rather that they should turn and live:
have mercy on all who have not known you,
or who deny the faith of Christ crucified;
take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart,
and contempt of your word;
and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to your fold,
that we may be made one flock under one shepherd,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Looking from the Mount of Olives over the Kidron Velley to Temple Mount, Jerusalem


Read: Psalm 30, Matthew 27:57-66


This dark Saturday, the earth seems to stand still, holding its breath to see what will next take place. Imagine the situation of the disciples as they rested on that Sabbath day. Cling to the word of hope in Psalm 30 and sit in the silence as you wait for tomorrow morning.


O God, creator of heaven and earth:
mercifully grant that as the crucified body of your dear Son
was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath
so we may await with him the dawning of the third day,
and rise with him to newness of life;
who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Pomegranate growing in Israel


Read: Matthew 28:1-10, Colossians 3:1-4


Light breaks into the darkness of death with the dawning of this day. Our world will never be the same, and our lives will never be the same. We too are now raised with him, and hidden in him, waiting for his final consummation in Glory. Sing a song of thankfulness for his indescribable gift.


Lord of all life and power,
who, through the mighty resurrection of your Son,
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise, honour and thanksgiving, now and for all eternity. Amen.