What Is Going On?
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To identify that, because Jesus’ best friends didn’t understand him, he can empathize with us when we feel misunderstood.
Preparation and materials
- You will need to be familiar with the story of Palm Sunday that is found in Matthew 21.1-11.
- You will also need five students to act out the short play in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4. They will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.
- Ask the following questions, pausing to allow time for thought after each one.
- Have you ever been misunderstood?
- Have you ever felt that people just don’t get you?
- Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do?
- Have you ever been in a bad mood for a good reason, but no one bothered to understand why?
- Are there times in your life when the people around you just don’t get it?
You may wish to ask the students to discuss their answers in groups.
- Explain to the students that Jesus often felt misunderstood too. Take Palm Sunday, for example, which is the special day, shortly before Easter, when we celebrate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. He rode in on a donkey and, as he arrived, crowds of people were there to welcome him, shouting ‘Hosanna!’, waving palm branches and throwing their coats down before him. However, many people didn’t understand properly what was happening. They didn’t understand Jesus and his message, and they didn’t understand the significance of his arrival, or the things that he predicted would come to pass in the coming days, such as his death and resurrection.
- Explain that some students are going to act out a short play based on the story of Palm Sunday.
Ask the other students to imagine that it is later on Palm Sunday evening and five of Jesus’ disciples are musing over the events of that day. Ask the students to listen for times in the play where there was confusion and misunderstanding.
- Five narrators are sitting in a semicircle.
Narrator 1 (looking puzzled): I’m a bit puzzled about what happened today. Why did Jesus tell me to go and get - of all things - a donkey to ride on? He’s a king, for goodness’ sake!
Narrator 2 (nodding): Yes, we wouldn’t have imagined that a victorious ruler would come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
Narrator 3: But has he ever really acted like a victorious ruler?
Narrator 4 (shaking head): No, he hasn’t really. I saw Zacchaeus in the crowd today. Remember how Jesus went to have tea at his house? He chose the worst person in town as a friend.
Narrator 4: It reminds me of the time when Jesus was teaching the crowds in a house. Simon said, ‘Jesus, your mothers and brothers are standing outside waiting to talk to you.’
Narrator 5 (nodding): That’s right, and he replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, sister and mother.’ Yes, I remember the look of surprise on Mary’s face that day!
Narrator 1: He caused quite a stir when he went into the temple courts today. There was a deathly hush after he’d overturned the tables of the money-lenders!
Narrator 2 (nodding): Yes, did you see the dark looks on the faces of the temple priests?
Narrator 3: I saw. They were livid, but trying to keep a lid on it!
Narrator 4 (excitedly): But what about all those blind people he healed today? All the lame too. That was great! All the children were chanting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’
Narrator 5: Yes, but our religious leaders didn’t seem too happy. Jesus’ parables seemed to be pointing out faults in them.
Narrator 1: You would think that, of all people, they would be the ones to welcome him.
Narrator 2 (looking puzzled): I just don’t get him!
All others: Me neither!
- Discuss what it was that the disciples didn’t get about Jesus’ words and actions. Explain that these men had been with Jesus practically night and day for three years. They were his closest friends.
Ask the students the following questions.
- Wouldn’t you have thought that, of all people, the disciples would have understood Jesus?
- How do you think Jesus felt about those closest to him not understanding his purpose and intentions?
If appropriate, encourage the students to discuss the questions in groups.
- Explain that, as the Easter story unfolds, there will be many more times when the disciples don’t get it, and many more times when Jesus will be left with no one to understand him and stand by him.
Time for reflection
Someone once said, ‘The most liberating thing is to realize deeply that nobody will ever, ever understand you. Everyone is too busy trying to understand themselves.’
Ask the students what they think this might mean.
Point out that perhaps some of the students are feeling misunderstood today.
Ask them whether it might make a difference to them to know that Jesus was also misunderstood, so he understands how we feel.
Pause to allow time for thought and possible discussion.
‘You say’ by Lauren Daigle, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI (4.30 minutes long)