Week 6: Palm/Passion Sunday – The One Who Comes
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, have participants share their response to the question, “What do you find to be the most significant part of the Holy Week story (the crowd greeting Jesus on Palm Sunday with celebratory palms, Jesus’ teachings at the Temple, the Last Supper, Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, Peter’s denial, Jesus’ trial, or Jesus’ crucifixion)?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Mark 11:1-11.
- While Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, the Roman leader Pilot would have entered Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover festivities on a war horse (likely with his own celebration by those wanting to be in his good graces that would serve as a reminder that Rome was bringing “peace” to the known world). What is the symbolism of Jesus arriving “victoriously” to Jerusalem through this “parade?” [Likely, it was multi-faceted. The crowd likely wanted Jesus to be a military hero who would free the Jewish people from the oppression of Roman occupation. Others might have wanted Jesus to lead more of a religious revolution. Additionally, Jesus would be bringing peace, not through military might, but through the humility of his death.]
- Jerusalem would have likely begun to swell in population as crowds came to celebrate Passover. How would Passover being on their minds have contributed to the hopes they projected on to Jesus? [Passover recalls Israel’s deliverance from the oppression of the Egyptians. This would reinforce the idea of a leader like Moses or even David freeing the people— in this case from Roman occupation.]
- If you have time, the group could read Psalm 24 as a psalm of victory to kings as they rode into town.
- This might be a familiar story to many, but perhaps the events of 2020 might allow us to see this passage with new eyes. Why do you think those in the crowd threw their cloaks and palm branches before Jesus? [Celebrating their hopes in a new day of freedom.]
- What did their shouts of “Hosanna” mean? [Save us!] How are the symbols of palm branches that we might wave in worship a symbol of our allegiance to Jesus as our king? [They remind us of the humble Messiah who defeated death through crucifixion and Resurrection.]
- Too often in the twenty-first century, we perceive a hard division between government and religion or faith and politics. There was no such division in Jesus’ time. What this crowd was engaging in was both a religious and political protest for freedom and salvation. (If the Roman guards understood the actions of the crowd and the symbolism of Jesus’ riding on a donkey, Jesus would likely have been arrested, and the crowd would have been handled swiftly.) How does the political unrest and the calls for police reform we witnessed in 2020 give us a bit of insight into the yearnings of those in the crowd on Palm Sunday? [The political oppression felt by Jews affected every part of their lives, including their religious observances. Rome’s occupation was seen as an affront to God’s justice. We too yearn for justice and freedom for all.]
- How will you observe Holy Week? What practices might help prepare you to celebrate appropriately the good news of Easter?
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group in prayer or read the following prayer in unison:
Lord, we too cry, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” We yearn for the day when your salvation and justice will be the experience of all people. We continue to repent from when we have failed to be obedient and extend your love and grace. This week, as we remember again the sacrifice and mercy of Good Friday, give us a fresh experience of your amazing and world-changing grace that burst forth from the good news of Easter Sunday. Amen.
Discipleship Ministries, www.umcdiscipleship.org
Engaging Your Community: A Guide to Seeing All the People, https://store.umcdiscipleship.org/product/engaging-your-community-a-guide-to-seeing-all-the-people-2/
Forming Disciples Through Worship, https://store.umcdiscipleship.org/product/forming-disciples-through-worship/
How to Have a Courageous Conversation, https://discipleship-ministries.teachable.com/p/courageous-conversation
“How to Start Small Groups,” https://discipleship-ministries.teachable.com/courses/
“Making the Most of Online Small Groups,” https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/making-the-most-of-online-small-groups
Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness, https://upperroombooks.com/soulreset/