As the story continues, so the tension and excitement mounts. Human reason would advise caution – suggest that Jesus lay low – keep out of the limelight – certainly not call attention to Himself. Rumor has it that two convicted felons will be crucified at the end of the Jewish Holy Week. Jesus’ rising popularity with the masses has done little to ease the growing resentment among the Jewish religious leaders. At the peak of His career, so to speak, it doesn’t seem very wise that Jesus should make a grand entrance, but that is exactly what He does!
ENGAGE the passage. Luke’s account is found in Chapter 19:28-40. The narrative has two parts: the first, the preparation that was made for Jesus’ entry, vs. 28-35; the procession itself, vs. 36-40. Again, we’ve come to a very familiar account, reenacted in numerous ways in church services on Palm Sunday and with children in their meetings.
Let older children, or confidant readers be prepared to read the passages from the Old Testament that are quoted in Luke’s account: Zech. 9:9-10 and Psalm 118:19-29. If you are watching the film, cue up this scene and watch it together.
EXPLORE the meaning. You may remember that in the early days of Jesus’ ministry, He wanted to keep His identity as the Messiah a secret. Once content to pour Himself into the lives of a few men, and the modest number beyond the twelve, He now accepts the praise given Him by the surging crowd as rightfully His. When someone advises him to rebuke the crowd, His answer is quick and confident (vs. 40). Riding a donkey was predicted in Zechariah, but this is in contrast to what one normally expects of a triumphant monarch. What animal often carries the King? What does Jesus’ choice tell you about His Kingdom? Take some time to talk this over.
EXPERIENCE the story. Of course, Jesus’ triumph will be short lived. He knew this as He rode the donkey. He also knew the victory that the people were celebrating was His Resurrection, even though they couldn’t see it at the time. We have a much better vantage, now. Paul describes it in dramatic prose in Philippians 2:5-11. Read this passage aloud a time or two and meditate on it. Encourage family members to record their responses in ways they enjoy, and share this with the whole group.
EMBRACE the Savior. Jesus’ final triumph will be much more glorious than His triumphal entry into Jerusalem that spring morning, as grand an event as that was. What difference does His celebration of victory make in your daily living? Be specific as you share answers to this question.
A FINAL WORD: Our journey to the cross often has more appeal for older kids, less for the pre-schoolers and pre-readers. If some of your children are very young, you will need to simplify the activities to suit their abilities and understanding. You could enlist the older kids to help in this and let them take leadership roles. If your family has a wide range of ages, you’ll probably find that older kids and teenagers communicate well with younger siblings when they’re encouraged to do so.
For the cyber-skilled, check out ‘Palm Sunday’ with your favorite search engine. You’ll find many accounts of ways people celebrate this important event in Jesus’ life. Consider creating your family’s unique version this year. Be sure to record this in your Family Time Journal.