Dive Deeper Easter Reading Plan // Introduction

Dive Deeper Easter Reading Plan // Introduction
Written by Kaley Morgan


PRIORITIZE JESUS

Diving Deeper into the Easter story is a perfect way to prepare your hearts for the season. Easter sneaks up on us quick, am I right? We’re easily distractible, too. *Squirrel!*

Spring is an exciting time. The weather is starting to warm up, so we are starting to spend more time outdoors. We might be preparing for and indulging in spring break plans with our family. We are beginning to anticipate summer, and researching and booking summer travel plans. If you’re a clean freak, you’re spring cleaning. Maybe it’s the time of year that you declutter and get rid of things you don’t need anymore. It’s tax season, and some of us are buried in receipts as we get all those numbers in order. Oh yea… and Easter. It comes quick. Wasn’t it just Christmas?

If that describes you, it’s ok. You’re in good company. I don’t say that to give you permission to wave at Easter from a distance as it quickly passes you by. I say that to emphasize the point that carving out time to prepare our hearts for Easter doesn’t come naturally for any of us. It takes intentionality and prioritizing. Everything in this world, the bad stuff and the good stuff, distract us from the most important thing… our relationship with Jesus.

Let’s not be ok with mediocrity.
Let’s not be ok as a luke warm Christian.


I challenge you to prioritize Jesus this Easter. There are many ways to do this, but reading the Easter story is one great and practical way! By doing this, we remember and learn who Jesus is, what He did for us, why He did it, and what that means to us today. If you focus your heart and mind on Jesus this Easter, I assure you, you will not regret it.

Prioritizing Jesus, no matter the cost, is worth it every single time.

INVITATION TO THE DIVE DEEPER EASTER READING PLAN

I invite you to participate in our Dive Deeper Easter Reading Plan. This plan is a 4-week plan that walks us through the Easter story by diving into all four Gospels. Before you freak out, since this is spread across 4 weeks, it isn’t that much reading each day. Additionally, each week is only 5 days of reading, giving you 2 free (or catch up) days. For the overachievers, we’ll be posting a Dive Deeper post on Saturday of each week where we will dig into some points and highlights of that weeks reading.

When does it start? It’s organized to be a 4-week reading plan. But you can download the printable plan whenever you want, and begin reading early or make your own schedule!

Why all four gospels? Because each Gospel is written by a different author, written to a different audience, and focuses on various details. When we study all four, we get the fullest picture of the story.

What if I can’t finish the plan? I say that any tidbits you are able to do is better than none at all (despite what your perfectionist tendencies might be telling you). As Pastor Brian has often said… it isn’t about perfection, it’s about direction.

Are you ready to dive into the Gospels?
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPELS

Below is an overview of each Gospel: who wrote it, who it’s written to, and some various aspects each one tends to emphasize. This is helpful background knowledge, so you can understand the scriptures better. Much of the following information is taken from The CSB Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible* by Gene A. Getz. Let’s dive in.

MATTHEW
Author: Matthew
Audience: Jews

Matthew, formerly called Levi, was a Tax Collector before Jesus called him to be one of the 12 disciples. Tax collectors cooperated with the Roman oppressors, and were known for collecting extra money for themselves. He would have been a hated outcast, but when Jesus said “follow me,” he left everything behind to follow Jesus, demonstrating whole-hearted commitment.

Matthew was also a Jew writing to Jews. This means his audience is familiar with what we know as the Old Testament. Because of this, Matthew references and quotes the Old Testament frequently, showing how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. This was one of Matthew’s ways he tried to show the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, and the Son of God.

MARK
Author: Mark
Audience: Generally understood to be written to the broader Roman audience (Gentiles of Rome)

His full name is John Mark, and he was a companion to the disciple Peter. He was also a missionary, Barnabas’s cousin, and a friend of Paul.

Mark emphasizes Jesus’ miracles in order to show that He was the Son of God, and he also shows us the humanity of Jesus by noting more of his emotions. Getz writes, “Through his humanity, Jesus suffered and was tempted so that he can identify with us… through His divinity, he conquered sin and death so that we can live forever with him.”

Mark also shows the slow spiritual transformation in many people. Mark is the one who introduces us to James and John, who Jesus called the “Son of Thunder.” They were following Jesus, and two of the 12 disciples, but they were still negotiating for political power for much of that time. Even though Jesus told them in His teachings, these two did not understand what Jesus came to accomplish until after the resurrection (their transformation is chronicled in the book of Acts, which is after the resurrection). Mark tells many other stories that demonstrates that many were slow to catch on.

LUKE
Author: Luke
Audience: Written to his friend, Theophilus, who was likely a Roman Gentile. Generally understood to be written for all believers.

Luke was a physician and a historian. Luke was an educated man, an intellectual. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Luke carefully investigated and wrote the book of Luke as a factual account based on eyewitness reports that were available to him. This is particularly fascinating when it comes to historical apologetics.

Luke’s emphasis was that the Good News is for all people, not just the Jews. He underscores the accounts where Jesus ministers to the Samaritans, Romans, and other Gentiles (Gentiles refers to anyone that is not Jewish). Note that Luke himself was also a Gentile, and the only Gentile author of a Gospel. Matthew, Mark, and John were all Jews. For this reason, Luke’s writing style is often known to be the easiest to understand for all believers.

Luke also encourages us towards full commitment to Jesus, without any reservation. Luke also reminds us to not lose our sense of awe in who Jesus is. Getz writes, “We need to meditate on the impact that Jesus had on his audience. Luke notes nine times that people were ‘amazed’ by Jesus and his actions… we need to reflect on Jesus regularly to renew our awe at who he was and what he did for us.”

Luke also wrote the book of Acts (and is meant to read seamlessly with the gospel of Luke).

JOHN
Author: John
Audience: Generally understood to be written for seeking unbelievers

This John is the John I mentioned above, whose brother was James, and Jesus referred to as the “Sons of Thunder.” They were nicknamed that based on their “aggressive ambition.” After the resurrection, when they finally understood what Jesus came to do, they fully dedicated their lives to ministry. James was the first martyred for his faith, while John served into old age. John was the only gospel writer that was not martyred for his faith.

Similar to Mark, John emphasizes that, for many, coming to full faith in Jesus is a process. This parallels his own story, doesn’t it? Alisa Childer’s writes in her book Another Gospel* that John “seemed more concerned with the theological implications of the events of Jesus’ life than chronology or historical details.” John also spends a lot of time emphasizing love and unity in the body of Christ. Without love, we render our witness ineffective.

John also wrote 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation.

Now let’s dive into Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s presentation of the Easter Story.
*Citations: Getz, G. A. (2019). Holy Bible: CSB Life Essentials Study Bible. Holman Bible Publishers.
Childers, Alisa (2020). Another Gospel: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity. Tyndale Momentum.
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