Holy Week in Real Time: When our Shepherd became the Lamb, ©2023 Phyllis Clark Nichols



There have been many events during my lifetime that I can recall exactly where I was and what I was doing when I learned of them, but two stand out. You, too, may share these experiences. I remember vividly crawling into the front seat of our two-toned, green, 1959 Ford Galaxie when Mama picked me up from Southside Elementary School on the afternoon of November 22, 1963. Mama was crying, crying hard, when she told me that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I cried hard, too.

Maybe it was because I didn’t like seeing Mama crying, or maybe it was because of my own growing understanding of what had happened to our president. And the second event was on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers in New York fell because of
the hate-filled acts of misguided terrorists. Bill and I had just returned from our morning walk. Our plan was to take a quick shower and start packing for our upcoming trip to Europe. We turned on the television in the bathroom to get the news while we readied ourselves for the day. The second tower had just been hit. We were stunned. We sat speechless and unable to move ourselves from the television all day long as the stories unfolded. Both these events changed the course of American history.

But there was another event that changed my personal history, and I recall that moment with all its details too. That was the moment when I, as a seven-year-old girl, realized that God loved me enough to die for me and that He had hopes for how I would choose to live my life. I was not in church at this moment. It was not a bedtime prayer with my parents. I was alone and talking to God before I went to sleep. God had used my parents, my pastor, my Sunday School teacher, and others to lead me to this moment of reality. That night, I asked God to forgive me for disappointing Him, and I gave my heart, all I understood of it at the time, to my Lord Jesus. I informed my parents the next morning and my church family the following Sunday, and I could hardly wait to be baptized. It was a childlike, limited understanding I had, but I knew without doubt that I needed Jesus, and I believed He was loving enough to do for me what I could not do for myself. I am grateful for God’s s patience and grace as my faith and my understanding have grown through the years. That’s just how God is.

As Christians, we are blessed to have an evidence-based faith—real stories about real people in real places and many witnesses to so many important events. I’ve had the great privilege to visit the land where our Lord lived and ministered while on this earth. I’ve walked the Shepherds Fields and the streets of Jerusalem and the Garden of Gethsemane and the Via Dolorosa. And as the old song reminds us, “and (I) felt His presence there.” Walking where He walked gave life to the scripture, made it three dimensional for me, and enhanced my imagination.

As a writer, I have a fertile imagination – an imagination that caused Mama great consternation when I was a child, but that same imagination has served me well as an author. I envision scenes in immense detail and in technicolor. When I am writing, I have the complete description of every character—hair color, eye color, size, age, skin tone and the sound of the voice. I draw floor plans and place furniture and live in each room while I am writing. I design gardens and sketch diagrams of small towns. Imagination. I bring that same imagination when I read the Bible, especially when I read the Bible.

I am grateful you are joining me this Holy Week, day by day, walking where Jesus walked as He chose the way of the cross. He could have chosen another way, but He chose His Father’s plan and purpose.

I invite you to read the scriptures each morning. I hope you will use your imagination to envision every scene and allow these events to become very real to you. Read them from each Gospel and experience each writer’s personality and perspective. If these passages are already familiar to you, maybe you could read them from a different translation. My favorite is The Message.

Meditate on the verses, imagine, and try to picture what Jesus was doing and what He might have been thinking and feeling every step of the way. And imagine the other persons in these stories, especially His disciples. Identify with them. Allow yourself to feel their confusion, disillusionment, disappointment, and fear. Those same emotions run rampant in the world today. Emotionally, we may be resonating more with Jesus’s disciples this week than we ever have.

Let us begin our journey with Jesus this week. Find a comfortable place to sit in solitude and read each Gospel as though you are reading it for the first time. Close your eyes, meditate, and imagine the scenes and emotions. Listen for God’s Spirit as you walk with Jesus this Holy Week.


Holy Week Daily Readings

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  1. So, what was Jesus doing on Palm Sunday?
    Read: Matthew 21:1-17, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:1-18
  2. So, what was Jesus doing on Monday?
    Read: Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48
  3. So, what was Jesus doing on Tuesday?
    Read: Matthew 21:23 – 26:5, Mark 11:27—14:2, Luke 21:1—22:2, John 12:37-50
  4. So, what was Jesus doing on Tuesday?
    Read: Matthew 21:23 – 26:5, Mark 11:27—14:2, Luke 21:1—22:2, John 12:37-50
  5. So, what was Jesus doing on Thursday?
    Read: Matthew 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-71, John 13:1—18:27
  6. Good Friday  ~  So, what was Jesus doing on Friday? Changing human history forever from depths of love and compassion only He has.
    Read: Matthew 27:1-61, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 23:1-56, John 18:28–19:42
  7. Saturday  ~  It’s a dismal day, but Sunday’s coming.
    Read: Matthew 27:57–66, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42
  8. SUNDAY  ~  What we’ve been waiting for…
    So, what was Jesus doing on Sunday? Exactly what He said He would do!
    Read: Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-12, Luke 24, John 20:1-21