Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read from the Gospel of Luke is the story of Jesus riding in on the donkey and the Last Supper. The opening activity gets students playing a modified version of “rock, paper, scissors.” The discussion encourages students to think about those last few days of Jesus’ life and ministry here on earth. The activity and discussion has students planning their own triumphal entry for Jesus into their town or church. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: 'Donkey-Branch-Crowns' (10 minutes)
In this opening ice breaker, your group will play a modified version of “rock, paper, scissors.” The rules are the same; however, the actions will vary. Here’s how you should do each one.
- Donkey – Two fingers “walking” on your alternate hand.
- Branches – Flat hand (like paper) with palm down.
- Crown – Hand like it’s holding a goblet. Hand palm up with five fingers pointed toward the sky.
Donkey beats branches; branches beat crown; and crown beats donkey. Have fun!
If you have students joining online, ask them to write down the word on three different sheets of paper or an index card. (Post-it notes will work too.) Then, depending on the size of your group, have them play each other one at a time. The winner can either continue or play this bracket style. The main point is to have fun!
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today is the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem and the Last Supper. While we read the scripture, put yourself in the story as a witness. Imagine you are close enough to see, hear, and smell what is happening.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- Have you ever been to a parade? If so, what was it like? Give lots of details. Share something from each of your five senses.
- What do you think it would’ve been like to have been there as Jesus rode in on a donkey to Jerusalem? Since most victorious kings rode into town on war horses, what might we learn about Jesus that he rides in on a colt?
- Why do you think people laid down their cloaks and waved palm branches?
- Whom do we throw parades for today? Who has a major welcome or entrance into something when they arrive? (Sports teams returning from a championship, etc.) With what you already know about the Easter story, what do you think happens to this crowd after Jesus arrives in Jerusalem?
- The second story we read today is the story of the Last Supper. What parts of the passage are familiar? What is new information?
- What words or phrases from this passage would you hear when we share Communion together?
- This passage continues well through the end of Jesus’ life, up to his crucifixion. So, if you are pressed for time, stop reading at the end of the Last Supper. If you continue…if this were the end of Jesus and his disciples, would we be where we are today? Why or why not?
4. Activity and Discussion: 'Triumphal Entry' (20 minutes)
Explain to your students that today they are going to plan their own triumphal entry for Jesus. They may choose either to plan it as if Jesus is coming into their town or to their church. They may even choose to do both. Here are some things for them to think about during the planning process.
- Where will Jesus be coming from and where will he be going?
- You may want students to map this out, especially if Jesus will be coming into your town. Will Jesus stop other places? If so, where?
- Who will be invited? Will there be an invitation sent out?
- What about signs? Social media?
- Will this event be live streamed?
- Who will do what before Jesus arrives? Who will do what afterward? During?
- What special elements will there be?
- What might Jesus be driving and/or wearing?
- Will there be food? Music? What food? What songs?
- When should people show up? What will they be waving?
- Are there any other elements to Jesus coming into your town/church?
If time allows, have students put their plan into action. Have them go ahead and make signs, work on promotional material, write letters inviting people, and so on. If you’re able to decorate your student area, do that. Have fun with this activity and celebrate Jesus as he enters our lives this Palm Sunday!
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Supplies vary for closing activity