Buildup to Easter, The Week of Sunday, April 14: The Triumphal Entry
This week in The Sunday School Zone Buildup to Easter we’ll be looking at Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. The week of Sunday, April 14 is the appropriate time to study this story as that Sunday is Palm Sunday. This is the day we celebrate Jesus amazing entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus’ time of sacrifice is approaching. He knows He will be crucified on Passover just days away. Up until now Jesus has had to be careful about what He did in order to avoid a confrontation with the Jewish leaders that might lead to His death prior to the Passover. But now the week has come and Jesus is “taking off the gloves.” He’s leaving no doubts as to His claim to be King.
Things Are Coming to a Point
Not long before this, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. This spectacular and public miracle sealed the resolve of the leadership to kill Jesus, but they had to find the right opportunity. Could this week provide that opportunity? On the Sunday before the crucifixion, Jesus enters Jerusalem in a dramatic and in-your-face kind of way. The tension is building and this public display will certainly move things along. Some things we should note about this event…
First, He rode in on a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. Some might have made the connection between Jesus’ entry and this prophecy, but John is clear that “His disciples did not understand these things at first” (John 12:16). Sometimes our personal aspirations keep us from seeing the truth when it is right in front of us.
The People Declare He Is King
Second, He was hailed as King by the people and He did nothing to discourage it. John’s account of the Triumphal Entry follows immediately after the report that “many of the Jews were… believing in Jesus” because of the Lazarus miracle. The use of palm branches and the declaration in verse 13 makes it clear that they were proclaiming Jesus as King. Luke’s account reports the Pharisees telling Jesus to “rebuke” His disciples, but Jesus refuses (Luke 19:39-40).
King, But Not the King You’ve Been Expecting
Finally, His entry effectively declared that He was the King they had been waiting for, but not the KIND of king they were expecting. Yes, they were waiting for the Messiah/King and they certainly were hoping Jesus was that King. They were still hoping Jesus would be the kind of king who would lead a glorious revolt against the occupying Roman forces and free Israel to be the kingdom it once had been. That kind of king, however, would not be riding on a “young donkey.”
A Different Kind of Kingdom
Jesus had been clarifying the nature of the Kingdom and His Kingship throughout His entire ministry. He was redefining their understanding of the anticipated Kingdom. This redefinition of God’s Kingdom is something we need to understand as well. Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). That is, “My Kingdom doesn’t operate like the world’s kingdoms.” The Kingdom of God is characterized by humility, service, sacrifice, and love. Palm Sunday should continue to remind us of this reality.
Father, Your Kingdom reflects YOUR character. It operates according to YOUR ways of love and self-denial. Help us to seek YOUR Kingdom and not our own. Help us to be Kingdom people. Help us to live as Jesus lived and to love as Jesus loved. This is our calling. May we be faithful! – Amen
For Your Kids
You can find a number of free, printable activities related to the Triumphal Entry on the site. Encouraging kids to study this story during the Easter season can help them place the crucifixion and resurrection in its larger biblical context. Other activities and resources related to Easter can also be found on the site.