Five Devotions for Holy Week

Holy Week and Easter are incredibly important times in the Church Year. Jesus prepared for His crucifixion, and we, too, should reflect as we move through Holy Week, knowing that His death is coming, but so is His victory over death and the devil. Even as we mourn Jesus’ suffering and death on Good Friday, we rejoice that He won the battle for the forgiveness of sins on the cross, triumphantly proclaiming, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Then we await the tomb’s stone to be rolled away as Christ rises from the dead, promising our own resurrection when He returns. Prepare for Holy Week and remember the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for you with these five devotions from Portals of Prayer Devotional Bible below. 

1. Ride On: Palm Sunday

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.
Matthew 21:6–7 

Donkeys are humble animals. They are beasts of burden, and they keep their heads bowed low without expectation of praise. They don’t have the glamour or charm of horses. They don’t generate squeals of delight at a child’s birthday party or excited shouts at a busy racetrack.

But a donkey is just what Jesus chose for His entrance into Jerusalem. The coming of a king deserved far more than a loping animal such as this; the Romans preferred their rulers on majestic, powerful war horses.

But Jesus was no ordinary king. He rode a humble beast of burden into Jerusalem on His way to His humble death on a cross. But even without a powerful horse, He was and is the King, the Lord, strong and mighty. He rode for us in humility.

His donkey days are done now, though. When He returns for us, He will ride in on the clouds, exalted in majesty.


Precious Lord, You humbled Yourself that we might be lifted up on the Last Day. Keep our eyes fixed on You as we celebrate Your first coming and await Your second. Amen.

2. God of the Living: Holy Tuesday 

He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.
Mark 12:27

The resurrection of the dead is a real and certain comfort for Christians. Luther noted that we have a hard time believing in the resurrection, especially at a funeral. So how can this resurrection be? Luther writes, “Not by myself or by virtue of any merit on earth, but by this one Christ. And that is indeed certain, far more certain than the fact that I will be buried and see someone else buried, which I know with certainty and behold with my eyes” (AE 28:117).

Our doubt of God’s Word is evidence of sin in us. We are called to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. Our Lord promises the blessing of the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. For all who believe in Him, it will be a resurrection to everlasting life. For those who have rejected Him, the resurrection will be to eternal damnation apart from God.

Celebrating the resurrection of our Lord is always a great comfort and joy for all Christians! Do not despair. The Son lives! God is the God of the living!


Dear Father, I thank and praise You for the resurrection of all who trust in You, in the name of Your crucified and risen Son. Amen.

3. The Kataluma: Holy Thursday

Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?
Luke 22:11

When Christ Jesus, our Lord, was born, He was laid in a manger “because there
was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Stated another way, there was
no place for Jesus in the kataluma, which is the Greek word for “inn” or “lodging.” In today’s Bible verse, Jesus used the same word—kataluma—to refer to the “guest room” where He planned to serve His body and His blood, “poured out for you” (Luke 22:20). These are the only two occurrences of kataluma in Luke’s Gospel.

What a contrast between the kataluma of Bethlehem and the kataluma of our Lord’s Passover! There was no room for Jesus to be welcomed as a guest in the Bethlehem kataluma. As John’s Gospel explains, Jesus “came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him” (1:11). Jesus sent His disciples into the house of an unknown man, asking, “Where is the kataluma?” Although this was a borrowed space, Jesus nevertheless referred to the upper room as “My guest room” (Mark 14:14). Why did Jesus speak this way? Here—as also in every celebration of the Lord’s Supper to this day—Jesus is our host. He serves us His body and His blood, thus welcoming all His dear disciples into His kataluma of forgiven sins, resurrection hope, and life everlasting!


Thank You, Lord, for being such a gracious host. Amen.

4. What’s Good about Good Friday?: Good Friday

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
Luke 23:42

The altar paraments are black. The pastor gives up his white surplice. The cross is draped in black cloth. Good Friday is a somber time of remembrance. Many visual reminders alert Christians and the rest of the world to the suffering of Christ. Why, then, do we call that day Good Friday?

The answer is simple. Had it not been for the torture Christ endured, the bleeding flesh, the broken heart, and the burden of sins yet uncommitted by millions yet to be born, our present lives would have no hope, no purpose. Our future would be empty. But because Christ bore humiliation and burdens for all humankind, our lives have new hope. Our souls are set free.

We rejoice as did the thief on the cross beside our Lord, for we know our future is also with Him. Instead of the separation each sin creates, pulling us farther away from God, we now have the assurance through the death and resurrection of His Son that we will live forever.

How good to have the assurance of heaven this day. In grateful humility, we thank and praise Christ, who suffered on our behalf. Then we share this hope with others.


Lord, we thank You for carrying the burden of our sin. Amen.

5:. Prep for Peering: Holy Saturday

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Matthew 28:2

A lot of preparation goes into getting our homes ready for company. We want our guests to be comfortable. We want them to see our home at its best without the dust and cobwebs we often grow used to!

On that first Easter, God did a little preparation for peering into Jesus’ tomb. It wasn’t much, just an earthquake, rendering some guards unconscious, and an angel! The angel had the most important part, rolling that stone away.

We find great comfort in understanding why he did so. The angel did not roll away the stone to let Jesus out. He rolled away the stone so Jesus’ followers could see He was not there. He rolled away the stone so we could know that Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

We have a living Savior who comes to us. Jesus eventually revealed Himself to the women and to all His disciples. He reveals Himself to us in His Word, in Baptism, and in Holy Communion. He reveals Himself to us in the love and compassion of fellow believers. In times of struggle and sorrow and suffering, remember God’s “prep for peering.” The stone is rolled away. Jesus is not there. He is here, with us.


Jesus, thank You for being a living and ever-present Savior. Amen.

Blog post adapted from Portals of Prayer Devotional Bible © 2019. Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture: ESV®.

Quotation in blog taken from Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 28, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15 © 1973. Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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