This Sunday, Palm Sunday is one week before Easter. The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is called “Holy Week.” We will have two extra worship services before Easter Sunday. The first will be on the Thursday before Easter, which is called “Maundy Thursday”; it is the day that Jesus shared his last supper with his disciples. The following day is Good Friday. This week’s message will talk about all three of those days.
You may remember the story of Jesus visiting the Temple at Passover with Mary and Joseph, when he was twelve. In this story of Palm Sunday, Jesus is thirty-three and has been traveling with his disciples, preaching, healing and sharing God’s love for three years. Many people followed Jesus. But others, the Pharisees and rulers, did not agree with Jesus, and didn’t like what he said. Jesus knew that these leaders would do whatever they could to keep their power and silence him.
As Jesus was walking the long road toward Jerusalem, he knew that he was going to die. It was painful for him to know that – to carry that in his heart. He kept walking. He knew that God loved him, and that he loved and trusted God. He knew that he had shared God’s love with many people, by healing them and helping them. He kept walking. He knew that he could not run away from or escape what would happen. He was tired, and asked his disciples to find a donkey to carry him.
“Jesus and his disciples were walking, coming closer to Jerusalem. It was the week before Passover, and many people were traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Holy Season. Jesus and his disciples came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany near the Mount of Olives. Jesus spoke to two of his disciples: “Go to the next town. When you enter it, you will find a donkey tied which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here to me. If anyone asks you why you are doing this, tell him, ‘The Master needs the donkey. He will send it back soon.’”
The two disciples walked into the town. They found a donkey tied in the street near the door of a house, and they untied it. Some people were standing there and asked, “What are you doing? Why are you untying that donkey?” The disciples answered the way Jesus told them to answer. And the people let them take the donkey.The two disciples brought the donkey to Jesus. They threw their coats over the donkey’s back, and Jesus sat on it. As Jesus and his disciples headed toward Jerusalem, other people spread their coats on the road. Some people cut palm branches in the fields and spread the branches on the road. Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were following him. All of them were shouting, and waving palms: “Hosanna!” “Praise God! God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
Jesus entered Jerusalem and visited the Temple. It was already late when he left the Temple, so he went out to Bethany with his disciples. . – Mark 11: 1-11 Adapted from The International Children’s Bible
Poet Mary Oliver, writes about the donkey, in this wonderful poem: The Poet Thinks About the Donkey
“On the outskirts of Jerusalem the donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding, he stood and waited.
How horses, turned out into the meadow, leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages, clatter away, splashed with sunlight.
But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.Then he let the stranger mount.
Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.
I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.”
Here is a picture of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to color and to remind you that Easter is coming soon! And, if you have palms from church, here are printable and online instructions for folding your palm into a cross. You can pick up palms at the back door of church through Sunday morning.
The Bible’s stories of Holy week tell us that Jesus knew what was going to happen, but is disciples just didn’t understand. They loved Jesus, and didn’t think about the power of the Pharisees, or the Roman army that was in Jerusalem. Jesus had tried to tell them and, even though they were Jesus’ dear friends, they still didn’t understand. They couldn’t imagine what would happen in the next week.
When someone knows they are going to die, it is important for them to share their sad news with their friends. It is important that they share a meal with them, and show how much they care about them. It is also important for those they love to spend time with the person they love and admire – to tell them how much they are loved.
Jesus Washes His Followers’ Feet
It was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. Jesus knew that it was time for him to leave this world and go back to his Father, God. He had always loved those who followed him, and he loved them still.Jesus and his disciples were at the evening meal. Jesus knew that he had come from God and was going back to God. So during the meal Jesus stood up and took off his outer clothing. He wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him. When you wash someone’s feet, you are honoring them.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand what I am doing now. But you will understand later.”
Peter said, “No! You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “If I don’t wash your feet, then you are not one of my people.”
Simon Peter answered, “Lord, after you wash my feet, wash my hands and my head, too!”
Jesus said, “After a person has had a bath, his whole body is clean. He needs only to wash his feet.
When Jesus had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and sat down again. Jesus asked, “Do you understand what I have just done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ And this is right, because that is what I am. I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash each other’s feet. I did this as an example. So you should do as I have done for you. A servant is not greater than his master. A messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. A leader must serve the person he leads. “
“…Jesus told his disciples “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me. …Where I am going you cannot come.
“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”
– Adapted from John 13: 1-17, 33-34, International Children’s Bible
April 2: Good Friday
On Friday, the day after Jesus ate with his disciples, Jesus was arrested by those in power and died on the cross. Jesus’ disciples were sad – and they were afraid that they would also be arrested . His mother Mary and all and those Jesus loved were weeping and mourning at Jesus’ death. But, as sad as they were, they knew that Jesus had loved them , and that they were not alone: they were surrounded by God’s love. Jesus shared God’s love with all who met him; he reminded us to “love each other… as I have loved you.” God’s love is all around us and is meant to be shared. Good Friday is the perfect day to do something thoughtful for someone you love.
“Good Friday” is an odd name for the day that Jesus died. Some Christians call that day “Holy Friday”, or “God Friday.” What do you think it should be called?
Many weeks before Jesus died, Jesus was walking with his disciples and said to them: “The Son of Man will be given to men who will kill him. After three days, he will rise from death.” The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant. And they were afraid to ask. (Mark 9: 30-32) We call this day “Good Friday”, because we know that a miracle happened on Easter Sunday.
Holy Week begins with the joy of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. That is followed by days of sadness and tears. But Easter Sunday brings great joy! I hope you find time this week, to think about the things that make you sad and the times that make you joyful. May you always remember that – whether you’re happy or sad, confused or excited – God loves you and is always with you.