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"