by Eric D. Huntsman
As Latter-day Saints, we celebrate Easter every week when we partake of the sacrament. I learned to appreciate Easter from my mother, a perennial choir director. She prepared beautiful Christmas programs and she gave the same importance to Easter Sunday. She put together a script of Jesus’s last week to accompany several choir numbers. Easter Sunday was always recognized as an important event.
But at a sacrament meeting on one of my first Easters as a student at BYU, there were talks about tithing or something—wonderful topics, but not what you’d expect for Easter. Since Easter moves around the calendar, sometimes it’s hard to remember to plan for it. So I knew I couldn’t leave it up to my mother to provide a good Easter for me. When I became a bishop, I gave the ward members a list of scriptures to study if they wanted to prepare for Easter. Over the years, this study list became my annual journey.
There are wonderful doctrinal books on Christ’s sacrifice and the atonement. I have studied J. Reuben Clark’s harmony of the Gospels. The Gospels converge more closely about the events of Jesus last days than about the rest of his ministry, but even so, the sequence of events does not line up exactly. In my study guide, I don’t like to merge the texts into a coherent timeline, but rather let them stand on their own and look at the perspective that each Gospel brings.
Christians in the medieval period assigned an event to each day in the Savior’s final week, and traditions grew up around those events. The Gospels are not precise on these events, and so maybe there’s reluctance in the LDS community to not recognize the Passion Week calendar. But just as we celebrate Christmas with the rest of the Christian world, it is appropriate to remember the final week. For my list of suggested readings, click on each link. (This is repeated from a previous BYUNTC post).
- Some point before the Passion Week: The Raising of Lazarus
- Friday or Saturday: The Anointing in Bethany according to John
- Palm Sunday: The Triumphal Entry; the Cleansing of the Temple
- Monday: The Marcan Cleansing of the Temple; Teachings in the Temple
- Tuesday: More Teachings in the Temple; the Olivet Discourse
- ”Spy” Wednesday: The Anointing in Mark and Matthew; Judas agrees to betray Jesus
- Holy or “Maundy” Thursday: The Last Supper; Farewell Discourses; Gethsemane; Before the Jewish Authorities
- Good Friday: Jesus in the Hands of the Romans; the Crucifixion; the Burial
- Saturday: Jesus in the Spirit World
- Easter Sunday: The Resurrection