Holy Week: Day 1 – Palm Sunday

Holy Week is almost here; the week that leads up to Easter Sunday. Do you have your Easter eggs ready – the ones you can use to tell the story?

How about some family discussion about the first event in Holy Week? (Hint: scroll just enough to not reveal the answers to the “Time Out. Talk about…” questions!)

A donkey walks across a field

Okay, gather round the computer screen. Go ahead… ask the question…

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble What is the first event of Holy Week?

That’s right; it’s the day we call “Palm Sunday,” named because of what took place as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was welcomed by a happy crowd! It was sort of like a parade.

Our story takes place against the backdrop of the city of Jerusalem preparing for the Jewish festival of Passover. Multitudes of people would have been coming to Jerusalem to celebrate. Thus there was a considerable crowd, with lots of excitement and waving of palm branches!

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Why were they waving palm branches? And they were shouting something, weren’t they? What was it they were saying?

The waving of palm branches (and the laying of their coats on the road) was because they were excited to see Jesus! They called out:

Open quote marks Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

Hosanna is a word which has appeared to change in meaning. It started off meaning “save us now.” However, here it seems to be a word of praise. Word had gotten out: the Messiah was coming!

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble Messiah? What is that?

For hundreds of years the Jewish people had been waiting for the Messiah: someone who would save them. The prophets of the Old Testament had announced the coming of this savior. Jesus was the Messiah, but not the sort of messiah that the people expected! Both The crowds (and some of the disciples) anticipated that Jesus would take command in Israel as a king, and save them from the oppressive rule of the Romans. The events of Psalm Sunday were the public welcome of this awaited kingly Messiah.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble If Jesus was a king, why wasn’t he riding a big, white horse?
A king riding a white horse!

We all have different ways we understand God. It looks like the people in Jerusalem had an understanding that God would send them a Messiah who behaved as they wanted. And they wanted a warrior king! The people didn’t realize that Jesus came not as king of a nation. He was a humble, gentle king.

Jesus was a king with no need of a warhorse! He came to town riding a lowly donkey.

Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble (No right or wrong answers here!)

  • How do you suppose Jesus felt about their misunderstanding of the type of Messiah that he was?
  • The people wanted Jesus to take care of their problems, but what did Jesus really come to do?
  • What do you like about the type of king Jesus is for you?

Want to learn more about Palm Sunday? Check out these posts. Even more discussion questions for your family!

Stay tuned for the next installment of our series on Holy Week.

Photo credits:
Donkey by Rob Bixby
Royal king by Filko Dawidzinski, all licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Speech bubbles via WPClipart.com. Quote marks via Clker.com. Both are in the public domain.

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