By Cherie Werner
Before your message, gather a bunch of small rocks that can be given to the children. (One for each child.)
Good morning! I’m glad to see all of you here today!
How many of you like parades? Tell me about a parade - what happens there? What do you see? (Listen for responses.)
We have parades because we want to celebrate something or someone. A long time ago, there was a parade for Jesus. Let’s all imagine we are at that parade. I want you to close your eyes for a minute.
Pretend you are in a crowd of people. There are people on both sides of the street and everyone is excited. You are all waiting for Jesus! You have heard about him and all the great things he has done. He has been healing people, encouraging people, teaching people about God, feeding great big crowds of people, and he even raised a few people from the dead!
You can’t wait to see him. He must be getting closer because the crowd down the street just started shouting and cheering. Then he turns the corner and you see him coming down the road riding on a donkey. The people are laying down their coats and putting palm branches on the road to make a path for Jesus, kind of like a red carpet that someone would roll out for a king. All the people are waving palm branches in the air and shouting Hosanna! and “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38 ESV). Everyone is excited to see Jesus and they are praising God for all the miracles they have seen!
Okay, you can open your eyes now. That parade for Jesus really happened long ago. Today, we celebrate that special day. We call it Palm Sunday. Every year on Palm Sunday we remember that joyous parade.
Why do you think everyone was so excited that day? (Listen for responses.) Jesus had been teaching and healing people everywhere he went. The people were so excited that he was coming to their town that they started shouting praises to him. They couldn’t keep it inside!
What do you do when you get excited? (Listen to responses.) Yes, you jump and dance, sing and shout. When you are excited, you can’t keep it inside. Do you think that God wants you to celebrate all that he has done for you? Does he like it when you get excited about his love for you? Does he want you to tell others about it? Yes, he does!
But, there were some men at the parade for Jesus who were not excited. In fact, they were angry and they thought that everyone should just be quiet. They told Jesus to tell everyone to stop shouting. Do you know what Jesus said? Listen to this: Jesus said, “I tell you, if these were silent,” - that means that if the people did not praise Jesus - “the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40 ESV).
Hold up a rock. Do rocks talk? Can stones shout? No! But God is so amazing, so incredible, so worthy of our praise, that if we do not praise him, Jesus said, the rocks will!
Palm Sunday was the beginning of the hardest week of Jesus’ life. The same people who were shouting praises to him as King on Sunday were shouting to crucify him on Friday. This Friday is called Good Friday. That is the day we remember Jesus dying on the cross to take away our sins. And, next Sunday is Easter. That is the day we celebrate Jesus rising again. That’s when the real celebration begins! I hope you will be able to come back to church and praise Jesus on that day!
In the meantime, take a rock home with you today. When you see this rock, remember that Jesus wants to hear your praise. He wants you to be excited about the forgiveness he gives you and all the things he has done for you. He wants you to share it with others because if God’s people are quiet, even the rocks will shout!
Before you leave, let’s pray: Dear God, thank you for the many ways you show your love for me. Thank you for sending Jesus to die and rise to take away my sins. Work in my heart and help me to praise you every day. Amen.
Children may enjoy receiving the Palm Sunday Weaving Activity Kit that CTA offers. They can create their own palm branch to wave on Palm Sunday!