Passages to Read
For a full account of the events of this day, see Matthew 21: 1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:9-19.
It is called Palm Sunday because a crowd of Jesus’ disciples, along with Gailean pilgrims in town for Passover festivities, had spread their palm branches as Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Most of us know this part of the story, but the details give us more context. Biblical scholars estimate the population of Jerusalem to be around 40,000, but given the Passover holiday, the crowds could have been up to six time this as thousands came to celebrate.
The Romans would have been extra watchful during this time with so many coming and going. Jesus was entering into a very volatile situation. The Jewish and Roman authorities were concerned about the events and arrival of Jesus that day. The Romans wanted to maintain control while Jewish leaders wanted to maintain a good relationship with the Romans. Both parties knew that Jesus would push these desires to the limit.
Beyond the politics of the parties involved, Jesus rode in on a donkey fulfilling a prophecy written by Zechariah. Just as the prophecy foretold, the Messianic King had arrived to enter God’s Holy Kingdom of Jerusalem. Naturally, the people were extremely excited and made the way for Him by cheering and waving palm branches.
Prayer and Reflection Point
Jesus asked His disciples to go and find a specific donkey and colt to bring to Him.
More than likely they found this to be a strange request, but they were faithful and did it anyway. Pause and think about your obedience to God as we begin this week. Have you been listening to His voice through prayer and reading scripture? Make a list of areas in which you have struggled to obey God, and ask Him to help you follow His commands. Just as the disciples trusted and obeyed, we too should lean into having faith in our Savior.
Family Application and Map Check Point
Parents, help your child find on the map what road Jesus would have taken to enter the city of Jerusalem. Share with your child Matthew 21:1-11. Talk about the excitement that the people had that day seeing Jesus. Go around and ask each other to list things for which you are grateful. Share all the reasons we have to celebrate and focus on Jesus this coming week.
Holy Week Timeline
On Palm Sunday, Jesus:
• Entered Jerusalem riding a donkey (Matthew 2:1-11).
• Wept for Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).
• Spent the night in Bethany (Luke 19:29, John 12:12).