Easter Bible readings, reflections and prayers
Explore a path to hope this Easter
In a time of uncertainty and turmoil around the world, Jesus offers us a path to hope and a sense of purpose. We encourage you to use this material to reflect on the messages of hope around Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Each day’s reading includes Bible verses, a short reflection, some questions for consideration and a brief prayer. It is suitable for doing individually, or with a small group. Or, to use the material as a journaling activity, simply download and print the PDF version found below.
Good Friday reading and reflection
Jesus prayed: “’Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke chapter 22, verses 42-44, NIV).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John chapter 3, verse 16, NIV).
“Jesus: I am the path, the truth, and the energy of life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John chapter 14, verse 6, The Voice).
Have you ever felt like all your hope was gone? It’s a dark and frightening feeling, isn't it? Whether it’s because of a family crisis, financial struggle, natural disaster, battle with addiction or life-altering illness, there are times when we can feel utterly hopeless.
On Good Friday, Jesus’ followers felt like all hope was gone. They had believed Jesus had come to Earth to save them, but instead of becoming a conquering political hero, he had been killed on the cross. What they hadn’t yet realised was that he did come to save them – and his death was part of the plan.
At the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve (the first people God created) disobeyed him. Sin and sadness entered the world, and our relationship with God was broken.
In order to restore this relationship, a sacrifice was needed. In a way, it was the world’s biggest apology, and it was made on our behalf to restore our relationship with God. Jesus, God’s son, came into the world because God loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us.
So that brings us to Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross.
Jesus wants us to experience his hope, true joy, and the path that leads to life in its abundance, as he said in John chapter 14, verse 6. The Bible also says in John chapter 3, verse 16 that Jesus died on the cross because we are deeply loved. He carried the weight of our sins and burdens, and experienced rejection, humiliation and pain on the cross.
Before he was crucified, Jesus knew what lay ahead of him, and in his time of suffering and struggle, Jesus reached out to God for strength. (See the Bible verse from Luke chapter 22.) Through this action, Jesus set an example for us. In our times of trouble, when all seems most hopeless, we can reach out to God in prayer and find comfort and hope.
God’s love for us gives us strength for our lives on Earth, hope for eternity, and a hope we can hold on to – everyday.
Questions to reflect on:
- What areas in your life (or troubles that you observe in the world) are weighing you down or making you feel hopeless?
- Do you feel as though you can bring them to God in prayer? Why/why not?
- How does it make you feel to know that Jesus carries your burdens and offers you hope?
Thank you, God, for sending Jesus into the world to die on the cross. Thank you for caring about and carrying my pain and troubles. Please show me your hope and strength when life feels hard and confusing. Amen.
We encourage you to also spend some time handing your concerns identified in question one over to God in prayer.
Easter Sunday reading and reflection
The angel said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke chapter 24, verses 5-6, NIV).
“Our hope is certain. It is something for the soul to hold on to. It is strong and secure” (Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19, NIRV).
“You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever” (Psalm chapter 16, verse 11, GNT).
What do you do when you feel hopeless? Hide away? Seek temporary solace in an addictive substance or escapist entertainment? Do you fight to find a solution, or reach out to a trusted friend?
The Easter story shows us another way to respond to feelings of hopelessness. It’s to find a path to hope by approaching Jesus.
When Jesus died, his body was placed in a tomb. On the Sunday afterwards, a group of women who had followed Jesus – Mary Magdalene, Mary and Joanna – walked a path to the tomb where they expected to find Jesus’ body.
After watching him suffer and die, they were feeling grief-stricken and hopeless. They held a symbol of that hopelessness in their hands: the spices to anoint his dead body.
However, although they expected to find his body and simply anoint him with respect, their path of hopelessness turned into a path to hope.
Because at the tomb, they didn’t find his body. They found an angel who shared the good news that Jesus had come back to life (see the Bible verse from Luke chapter 24, verses 5-6). Jesus rose from the dead, and through this act, he offered hope for the future to all people. It is a hope that is certain and one we can hold on to (see the Bible verse from Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19).
There is a profound lesson here. In a situation that felt hopeless, the women took the one action they could take. They approached Jesus.
Just as Jesus approached God the Father in prayer during his anguish (see the Good Friday reflection), the women physically approached Jesus during their anguish. And through approaching Jesus, they found hope, life and joy.
Jesus loves us and this gives meaning to our lives. As the Bible says in Psalm chapter 16, verse 11, he promises us joy, a sense of purpose for our days, and assures us of hope for eternity.
Questions to consider:
- If you were one of Jesus’ followers during his time on Earth, how would you react to the news of Jesus’ death and then resurrection?
- How does knowing that Jesus offers you hope and a purpose make you feel?
- How can you walk a path to hope this Easter?
Dear God, thank you that Jesus rose back to life. Thank you that his life gives meaning and purpose to us, and that you offer us a hope we can hold on to. Please help us to seek strength in your hope and to experience the path that leads to life and joy. Amen.
We encourage you to explore what action steps you can take towards hope as identified in question three, and speak to God about them in prayer.