Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Scripture of the Week: Mark 11:1-11
Lesson: Today's lesson is a long one but maybe the most important story you will ever hear. Today is a very special day called Palm Sunday. It is the first day of our Christian celebration of Holy Week. This is a different kind of celebration because it starts out happy and then becomes very sad until it ends very happy again.
This is the story of the last week of Jesus' life and we learn that he knew about every single thing that was about to happen to him. He knew when he went to Jerusalem that he would be dying there. He also knew that the reason he was born was so he could die at this very time and when he died, he would take with him all the sins of the people who believed in him from that time on. On this very Sunday a long long time ago, Jesus went to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, even though he knew it would be for the last time.
He, his 12 disciples and others had been on a journey and Jesus would stop to teach the people about God and perform miracles and heal the sick everywhere they went. By now, many had seen or heard the news of Jesus. On this Sunday as Jesus and his disciples were about to enter the city of Jerusalem, he stopped. He told 2 of his disciples to go on ahead into the city to find a special donkey and bring it back to him. He told them to tell the owner of the donkey that the Lord needed it and he would then let them have it. That is exactly what happened. Now, it had been foretold to their ancestors that that the Lord would send a great king who would come to Jerusalem riding on a donkey and he would save them from the Romans. He would be their savior - their Messiah.
The roads back then were much different than ours and most people just walked from place to place. They were not paved, but were just dirt and stones. When important people traveled on these roads, the people would cut down branches from the nearby trees and put them on the ground to cover the dirt. The trees that grew in that area were mostly palm trees. So when the people heard that Jesus was coming into the city, they cut down palm branches and placed them on the road. It was like a big parade. They all shouted "Hosanna" which means "save us". They used more of the branches to wave in the air as Jesus passed by. That's why today is called Palm Sunday.
The Jewish people were so happy because they thought Jesus was a mighty king and would defeat the Romans. Not everyone was happy he was there though. The men who had been in charge knew Jesus was a threat to them so they decided he would have to be killed. On that Thursday, a day we now call Maundy Thursday, Jesus had the Passover meal with his 12 disciples. It was his LAST SUPPER. During that meal, the very first Eucharist or Communion was offered by Jesus himself. The same communion that we have right here at our church. His disciples didn't really understand what Jesus was telling them at the time. After the meal had ended, Jesus went to a nearby garden to pray and he asked 3 of his disciples to stay awake with him. Night had come and Jesus knew he would be arrested soon. His disciples were very full from the meal and tired so they fell asleep, leaving Jesus all alone.
The Roman soldiers came and took him away. He was beaten and they made fun of him, just like bullies do. Jesus didn't fight back or even try to defend himself, even though he had not done anything wrong. He knew what was happening was God's will. The crowds of people saw him and were confused. How could this man be the king they had been waiting for? This time, instead of shouting "Hosanna", they shouted "crucify him". It seemed almost everyone had turned their back to Jesus and he was put to death on the cross. This happened on Friday of that week - now called Good Friday.
The moment Jesus took his last breath, a great storm came over the land and they all realized that Jesus really was the Son of God and what a terrible thing they had done. This is the very, very sad part of Holy Week. The body of Jesus was cleaned and wrapped in soft cloth and laid in a tomb with a huge stone rolled in front of the opening. His body was there for 3 days. On Sunday, the third day after Jesus had died - the day we now call Easter Sunday, a woman named Mary Magdalene, one of the people who had journeyed with Jesus and his disciples, went to the tomb and saw that the giant stone had been rolled away. She looked inside and saw that his body was gone! She stood outside the tomb crying because she thought that someone had taken his body. Angels spoke to her and Jesus appeared and told her that he was alive and would be going up to heaven to be with God, his father. He told her to run and tell the others and everyone rejoiced because Jesus was alive. This happened on Easter and it marks the end of Holy Week. It is a very powerful story and one that must be told over and over until the end of time.