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Play (Preschool)New TestamentSession 31

Palm Sunday

Session Introduction

We praise Jesus.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Show and tell what people did on Palm Sunday.
  • Realize that Jesus wants us to praise him too.
  • Praise Jesus!
Leader Reflection: Preparing to Tell God's Story

This story recounts the beginning of the holy and epochal week in which all the central events of the Christian faith take place---from the frenzied parade of Palm Sunday to the dark hill of Golgotha to the shining angel by an empty tomb.

Jesus' path to the cross begins outside the city of Jerusalem. Pilgrims are pouring into the city by the tens of thousands, spiritual fervor is at a fever pitch, messianic expectations charge the air. Many have heard about Jesus, and now he's about to enter the city with his disciples. Shouts ring out, "There he comes!" People throw their robes on the ground, and they sing bits and pieces of the psalms, especially Psalm 118.

And there he is: riding a donkey, shoulders swaying to the rhythm of the beast, feet nearly dragging on the ground. Still they sing and shout, "Hosanna, Hosanna to the King!"

It's hard to know what to make of this day. Do we join the parade, or do we stand back and rebuke the hypocrisy of the crowds? The event is shot through with irony and contradiction---now the people are praising the King on a donkey; later in the week they'll be condemning him.

It's important to notice that Jesus isn't a surprised and reluctant celebrity here. He takes the initiative, giving disciples explicit instructions for how to procure the donkey. It's a striking example of prophecy being fulfilled on purpose. One could say Jesus played the crowd like a master politician. That's exactly what scared the Pharisees, who feared that the people might truly crown Jesus king of the Jews, bringing down the wrath of their Roman rulers.

Planned or not, the striking thing is that everything said and done that day is no charade. This is no flash-in-the-pan celebrity on parade. He is the King, the King who brings peace. He deserves all the acclamation and praise.

It's fascinating that Jesus' parade route takes him right into the temple (in keeping with Psalm 118, which the people are singing). Mark ends this part of the story by saying that "he looked around at everything." But the very next day Jesus is back, throwing over the tables of the money changers, driving out the temple merchandisers who were a source of some wealth to the High Priest and his family (vv. 12-18). He is the King they acclaim, and he has authority over the house of God.

Yes, the King will end up mocked and crowned with thorns by the end of the week, but this triumphant parade is a picture of the cosmic triumph of the King who, a week later, will rise from the dead in victory.

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For Play (Preschool) - New Testament

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