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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19

Story Summary

This is the story most commonly celebrated on Palm Sunday and is usually referred to as the "Triumphal Entry". We refer to this as the "Entry into Jerusalem" to give children easy words to use, but you can certainly teach them the traditional title of this story. We strongly encourage you to read all 4 tellings of this story (references are in "Background Scripture" above).  Each version has nuances in it that are important, but we chose the Mark telling of the story because it is the most concise.

To put this story in context, see this visualization of the chronology of Holy Week.

Here are some important highlights of this story:

  • Jesus was going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. The symbolism of this should not be overlooked. The Jews celebrated the Passover Feast as was commanded them after they were delivered from the Egyptians. The angel passed over the Israelite households that had the blood of the Passover Lamb over their doorways.  Jesus was about to become the ultimate Passover lamb, saving all who would believe from the judgment of God by his own blood.
  • That Jesus asked his disciples to get a donkey emphasizes his humility and is in contrast to the hopes of the Israelites at that time - that Jesus would become a military or political king and deliver them from the Romans. It was also in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9.
  • This story happens as Jesus began to become very widely known and crowds began following him. Those crowds did several things to worship him or "roll out the red carpet":
    • They put their coats down in front of him for the donkey to walk on
    • They took branches they cut from the fields for the donkey to walk on
    • They shouted and sang Psalms of David (Psalm 118:25-26) - "Hosanna!" means "Lord, Save Us!"
  • This crowd of people adulating Jesus really got to the Pharisees and was one of the catalysts that led them to crucify him. Jesus told the Pharisees that if his disciples were quiet, even the rocks would cry out in worship.
  • Luke records that Jesus began to weep for the city of Jerusalem as he approached it because they did not believe and did not accept him. He also prophesied its future destruction.
  • After this entry into Jerusalem, Jesus did a couple things that would serve to instruct people of his true character and purpose (which was bigger than just being a rock star)
    • He predicted his death
    • He cleared the temple of those who were using it as a "den of robbers"

What You Will Need

Supplies
palm branches
coats
Snack Suggestion
Dates (the branches in the story were from a date palm)

Resource Sheet

Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem

This coloring sheet depicts Jesus' entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Ask the students if they could meet one famous person, who would they like to meet? Why?

In today's lesson, we are going to learn about when crowds of people followed Jesus around and worshipped him.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

This story is short enough that it can be read directly from the Bible for all ages. You can bring out some of the highlights we've listed in the "Story Summary" above as you think your children will understand them.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Mark 11:1-11

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Why was Jesus going to Jerusalem? (to celebrate the Passover Feast)
  • What was the Passover Feast? (celebrates when the Israelites were delivered from the Egyptians)
  • What did Jesus ride on? (a young donkey, or a colt)
  • Where did he get that donkey? (Jesus sent his disciples into the city to get it)
  • What did the people do for Jesus as he was riding the donkey into Jerusalem? (put down their coats and branches for the donkey to walk on, shouted "Hosanna!")
  • Who was mad about Jesus getting all this attention? (the Pharisees, who hated Jesus)
  • What does "Hosanna!" mean? ("Lord, Save Us!")

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • The crowds in this story recognized that Jesus had come into the world to save them (that's why they shouted "Hosanna" or "Lord, save us!")
  • Do you recognize that Jesus came into the world to save you? Have you asked Jesus to save you?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

Reinforcement Activities

Milk Jug Donkey

Heads up! This might be an activity to complete ahead of time to have for class

Scripture When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it Mark 11:7

Supplies milk jug, brown or gray paint, brown craft foam, pink paint, large googly eyes, brown fur or yarn, pvc pipe or long stick, glue gun

  • Click on link and follow directions to make a stick donkey.

Homemade Palm Branches

Scripture They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13

Supplies one paper towel roll per student, green construction paper, glue or tape, scissors, pencils

  • Trace hand prints onto green construction paper.
  • Cut out hand prints.
  • Glue hand prints to paper towel rolls to make palm branches, using the paper towel roll as the stem.

Palm Sunday Foot and Hand print Collage

Scripture They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written John 12:13-14

Supplies gray and green, and black washable paint, cardstock

  • Paint bottom of children's feet with gray paint and place onto middle of card stock to make a footprint.
  • Paint hand with green paint and place around bottom of footprint. These will make palm branches.
  • Paint ears onto the top of the footprint to make donkey ears.
  • Write or paint the word Hosanna onto the card stock.

Paper Towel Tube Palm Branches

Scripture The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:12-13

Supplies Paper towel tube for each student, green construction paper. scissors, stapler

  • Flatten paper towel tube to make it flat.
  • Cut green construction paper into 2 large ovals.
  • Cut slits in toward the center of the oval (be careful not to cut all the way through.)
  • Staple construction paper palms to the paper towel tube.

Streamer Palms

Scripture The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:12-13

Supplies green paper streamer

  • Pass out a strip of green streamer to each student.
  • Ask students to wave streamer, as they listen to the song "Shout Hosanna" by the Donut Man

Pin Jesus on the Donkey

Scripture When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:7-10

Supplies donkey printout, Jesus printout, contact paper or laminator, tape, blindfold

  • Laminate the picture of the donkey and Jesus.
  • Put a piece of tape on the back of Jesus.
  • Students can take turns trying to put Jesus on the donkey while blindfolded.

Passion Week Eggs

  • Before Resurrection Eggs were popular, I used Passion Week Eggs to teach my own children. Each night at the dinner table, we open an Easter Egg that represents what Jesus did on each day of the week before his crucifixion. Each night has a different colored egg that sits in a small Easter basket on our table.
  • Sunday-a small palm branch or plastic donkey.
  • Monday-
  • Tuesday- coins or a small dove
  • Wednesday-
  • Thursday- small lego goblet, cracker, an olive, small lego sword
  • Friday-cross, thrones
  • Saturday-rock
  • Sunday- Nothing. The Tomb was empty!

Palm Weaving

Scripture So they took branches from palm trees and went out to meet him. They shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13

Supplies palm branches (can be bought from a florist shop)

  • Follow instructions to weave a cross from a palm leaf.

Act out Story

Scripture When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:7-10

Supplies palm branches, stick donkey, cloaks

  • Have student act out Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem.
  • One student will be Jesus. Other students will be alongside the road with palm branches.
  • If you do not have a stick donkey, a student can pretend to be a donkey (on hands and knees).

About Date Palms

Scripture They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13

Supplies palm branches and/or access to internet, dates

  • Show real palm branches, or pictures online.
  • Date palms are a type of palm tree.
  • They grow on the Canary Islands, northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and the U.S. state of California.
  • They grow to be about 75 feet tall.
  • Leaves are 14-19 feet long with 150 leaflets.
  • More than 1,000 dates may grow on a single bunch weighing, 18 pounds or more.
  • Provide dates for the students to taste.

Donkey Races

Scripture When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Mark 11:7

Supplies Headbands with donkey ears attached

  • Two students pretend to be donkeys (on hand and knees).
  • Give them donkey ears to wear.
  • Place palm branches a few feet away, to create a finish line.
  • Two other students ride on the donkeys.
  • Try to reach the palm branch finish line first.