Lesson 1: Palm Sunday
Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
This lesson covers the events of Palm Sunday from all four Gospels. The students discover how the past differing viewpoints about Jesus still relate to us today.
1. To study the scriptures about the events of Passion Week and Jesus arriving Jerusalem on Palm Sunday
2. To challenge students regarding how they receive Jesus day by day
3. To inspire students to give unbridled praise to Jesus
Celebration, Easter, Palm Sunday, Praise
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (10 minutes)
A Tangled Mess! (Game)
Get into groups of six or eight persons. Have the students grab the right hand of another person in the group, but not the person next to them. Next, have the students grab the left hand of another person, but not from the person they are already holding, nor the person next to them.
The result is a big tangled mess of hands and arms. The goal is for the students to untangle themselves without letting go of anyone's hand.
GETTING STARTED (5 minutes)
• What was the biggest crowd in which you have ever found yourself?
• Was it a joy-filled crowd?
• Why is it easy to be swept up in the excitement of a large crowd?
• Is being in an excited crowd comfortable or uncomfortable? Why?
Today, we will discuss a large crowd who gathered. The people were swept away by everything that happened before their eyes.
DIGGING DEEP (30 minutes)
Read Matthew 21:1-11
1. What Old Testament passage is quoted in verse 5? (Zechariah 9:9. If you have time, have the students read this verse.)
2. What Old Testament passage is quoted in verse 9? (Psalm 118:26. If you have time, have the students read this verse.)
3. To a Jewish person, who knew these prophecies by heart, what would it mean to see Jesus fulfilling them? (It would have been overwhelming and inspiring.)
4. Who did the crowd say Jesus was, according to verse 11? (The Prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.)
Read Mark 11:1-11
1. What does the gesture of laying robes and palm branches seem to indicate? (The crowds were treating Jesus like royalty.)
Read Luke 19:28-40
1. What do the Pharisees ask Jesus to do in verse 39? (To rebuke His followers.)
2. Does Jesus agree to do it? Why or why not? (No. Jesus said, "If they [meaning His followers] kept quiet, the stone will cry out.")
Read John 12:12-19
1. How many people are present at Jesus' arrival? (A large crowd, they were gathered for the Passover feast.)
2. From verse 13, do you get the sense that the people expected Jesus to be crowned king? (Yes, however, they had no idea that he was really coming to give His life.)
3. What do the Pharisees say about the attitude of the people towards Jesus in verse 19? (That the whole world has gone after Him.)
As we covered these four accounts, we got a very clear picture of the details of the events. This happened on the first day of the week, a Sunday. The reason we call this day "Palm Sunday" is from the palm branches that people laid down on the ground in front of Jesus.
MAKING IT REAL (15 minutes)
We can get much more from these four accounts than historic detail. We can also get a glimpse of how people approached Jesus then, and how people approach Him now. When Jesus entered the city, there were many groups of people, and everyone had a different viewpoint about Him.
1. What were the disciples feeling when Jesus entered the city? (They were overwhelmed with joy and excitement.)
2. What were the crowds feeling then? (They were swept away by all that went on.)
3. What did the Pharisees discern? (They seemed jealous, concerned, and a little indignant.)
It was really an amazing scene. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead. The masses gathered in preparation for the Passover feat. Jesus was experiencing peak popularity. There was hysteria, lots of shouting, singing, and anticipation. No one, except Jesus, knew what was going to happen next.
Today is not much different. Many groups of people approach Jesus every day, and there are still many different viewpoints about Jesus.
Discussion Questions: (Allow for responses.)
1. Do you think anyone still feels overwhelmed with joy over Jesus? Who?
2. Do you think anyone misunderstands Jesus? Who?
3. What do you personally think of Jesus?
4. If a similar scene were to take place today, with Jesus coming to town, how do you think the crowd would react?
5. How would you react?
6. Would an outside observer look at your life and say what the Pharisees said, that you have gone after Jesus whole-heartedly?
The most revered week of the Church calendar begins today with Palm Sunday. One week after this event comes Resurrection Sunday. Our views about Jesus today influence how we worship Him on Easter.
CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)
Pray for your students to be swept away by Jesus every day, starting today.