An interactive story about Palm Sunday and Jesusí welcome into Jerusalem
by Kirstine Davis
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To tell the story of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on a donkey.
Preparation and materials
Have available an image of a donkey and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: http://tinyurl.com/z8atexo
You may wish to use the song ‘We have a king who rides a donkey’, in which case you will also need the means to play it. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSbEEwik2hs and is 2.26 minutes long.
Optional: a donkey costume always goes down well!
Show the image of a donkey.
Point out that donkeys don’t look very glamorous. They have rather large heads and big ears. Ask the children to imagine that they are important people, maybe royalty. Ask whether they think they would travel by horse or by donkey and why.
Listen to a range of responses.
Most important people would rather travel by horse than by donkey if given the choice. However, the story we’re going to hear today is about someone who travelled on a donkey, yet is probably the person who has made the most difference to the world.
Jesus and the donkey
Once upon a time . . . actually, you know, it wasn’t once upon a time – this isn’t a fairy story! This really happened.
About 2,000 years ago, there was a great teacher called Jesus. You’ve probably heard of him: he made a massive difference to the world!
Jesus had been preaching and teaching for about three years. He knew that very soon he would die. Jesus knew that this was part of God’s plan and that it would happen in a place called Jerusalem. Lots of the Old Testament prophets had talked about Jesus many, many years before he had been born. These men were called prophets and they spoke of many things that would happen to Jesus. One prophet called Zechariah wrote about a king arriving on a donkey, not even a grown-up donkey, but a colt, a young donkey. Zechariah said that the king was a humble man, who didn’t make himself more important than he really was.
Well, on this particular day, Jesus said to his helpers that they were going to walk into the city of Jerusalem. It turned out that it was going to be a sort of parade – lots of shouting and fun!
Ask the children if they know how to have fun and be noisy.
Explain that you want the children to listen to the following instructions.
- When you say ‘donkey’, you want them to say ‘hee haw’ and make their hands into ears.
- When you say ‘Jesus’, you want them to say ‘Jesus’ and punch the air.
- When you say ‘cheer’, you want them to shout ‘Hip hip hooray!’
- When you say ‘Hosanna’, you want everyone to wave their hands as though they were holding large branches from a palm tree, and shout ‘Hosanna’.
Encourage the children to practise as you say the words: donkey, Jesus, cheer, Hosanna.
JESUS said to his friends, ‘We are going to have a parade, and I need a DONKEY. I want two of you to go into the village. There, you will find a young DONKEY, called a colt, tied up. Untie him and bring him back here. If anyone stops you, just say that your master needs this DONKEY and he will send it back when he has finished with it.’
So two of the disciples went off, found the DONKEY and took it back to JESUS. They put their coats on the donkey’s back and JESUS climbed on. He started riding the DONKEY down to the city and the people who had been talking to him went ahead of him. They started CHEERING and shouting HOSANNA. Lots more people heard the noise and they came to see what it was all about. They started putting their cloaks down on the ground for the DONKEY to walk on. Then someone thought that they needed a flag, so they took a branch off one of the many palm trees and started waving it around, CHEERING ‘HOSANNA, HOSANNA. Look, it is JESUS. God bless him! HOSANNA. God bless him who comes in the Lord’s name. HOSANNA.’
In the end, the whole city was buzzing about the parade and the sight of JESUS on a DONKEY.
However, there were some people who weren’t joining in and CHEERING. Some people weren’t shouting HOSANNA. They were jealous of JESUS and they told him off for making such a big fuss. They wanted JESUS to stop the people CHEERING. But JESUS said to them, ‘If the people keep quiet, the stones will start shouting instead!’
Wow! That was fun, wasn’t it? Now that the parade is over, I want you to stop doing the actions.
This story happened at the beginning of Easter week. On Palm Sunday, Christians especially remember Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on a donkey. By the time we get to Good Friday, we will be remembering the death of Jesus. It didn’t take the people very long to stop cheering Jesus, and instead turn their backs on him. On the Sunday that follows Good Friday, called Easter Sunday, we will be remembering that Jesus came back to life again.
Time for reflection
Let’s spend a moment thinking about that week. It started with a great parade: everyone was singing and shouting that Jesus was someone special, that he was the Son of God. However, later that week, the religious leaders who didn’t like Jesus spread rumours and made the crowds shout that they wanted Jesus dead. They created so much fuss that Jesus was killed by the Roman soldiers.
What they didn’t realize was that this was all part of God’s plan. Jesus would come back to life and the world would be changed.
Sometimes, we don’t understand it when difficult or sad things happen.
Help us to remember that you are always there for us.
Thank you that you always care.
Please help us to trust you.
‘We have a king who rides a donkey’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSbEEwik2hs