Background: Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was during the Jewish festival, Passover, which celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt during the Exodus. Many people traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, yet Jesus’ arrival was different. This festive arrival was the beginning of the end of his life. The symbolism of the Triumphal Entry passages (the name of this festive arrival)is striking. The passages indicate that the people around Jesus recognized him as a messiah, a deliverer, and a king. Jesus rode on a colt that had never been ridden (Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30). Being “un-ridden” symbolized purity, which was needed if royalty were to use the animal. Palm branches were used to welcome Jesus. Palm branches were a symbol in Jerusalem that indicated hope. Cloaks were spread on the ground (Matt 21:8, Mark 11:8, Luke 19:36), which is something that would have been done for a king (e.g., 2 Kgs. 9:13). People cheered, “Hosanna!” (which means, “please save us!”) and they called him Son of David (which means he’s a royal figure; Matt 21:9, Mark 11:9, John 12:13). (John H. Walton & Kim E. Walton, The Bible Story Handbook, 303-305)
Scripture Emphasis: Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-26
Activity: Read the Triumphal Entry passages as a family. Ask your children why it was important that Jesus rode on a donkey, people called out to Jesus, waved and laid palm branches at his feet, and spread their cloaks (outer coats) on the ground. (Jesus was recognized as Messiah, Savior, and King.) At this point in the story of Jesus, things are about to change. For this short trip into Jerusalem, Jesus was hailed as king. Soon, this declaration of kingship will have him killed. But today is a day of celebration. After reading the passages, discuss what was similar and what was different. Have your children choose how to reenact the story, and dress up, grab some palm branches, and act out the story together.
Prayer: God, thank you for sending Jesus to Earth. Help us to remember who he really is and to continue to love him more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.