Palm Sunday story
The story of Palm Sunday is a familiar one to most of us in church, so it's easy to switch off because we’ve ‘heard it all before’. Telling the story from a different perspective, while staying faithful to the Bible, allows us to listen afresh, to step into the story and hear God speaking to us. This storytelling version of the events of Palm Sunday aims to do just that for your all-age worship or your children’s group.
This material was written by Lisa Cherrett, who is part of BRF's Content Creation team.
The story of Palm Sunday can be found in each of the four Gospels.
A picture of a young donkey would be a useful starting place for this retelling. You could also hand out palms or palm crosses to everyone at the appropriate moment in the story.
After you have finished telling the story, ask the congregation or group what it must have felt like to be Rebekah or Simon that day. Then say, 'Imagine you were in that crowd too: what would you have seen, asked and remembered about what happened? I wonder why Jesus did this when he knew what the end of the week would bring...'
Rebekah and Simon were helping their mother unpack the special food that she’d bought at the market for their Passover meal later in the week. The fruit and nuts smelt delicious, and the children could hardly wait for Thursday night to come.
Suddenly their dad stood up and hurried to the window. ‘What are those men doing with our donkey?’ he said. Flinging open the door, he yelled out to the people outside, ‘Who said you could untie that animal? Bring it back right now!’
Rebekah could just hear their reply: ‘It’s all right. The Lord needs it. You’ll have your donkey back by the end of the day.’
‘The Lord? You mean Jesus of Nazareth? Is he in town again?’
‘Yes, he’ll be in Jerusalem for Passover. He’s going up there now, just to have a look around.’
‘Well, OK, take the donkey, of course. But tell Jesus to be gentle with her. She’s never been ridden before.’
‘Can you imagine Jesus doing her any harm?’ laughed the man. ‘See you later.’
Simon and Rebekah looked at each other. They’d heard amazing stories about Jesus of Nazareth, but they’d never seen him for real. ‘Can we go?’ Simon asked, breathlessly.
‘What, with the donkey?’ said their mother. ‘Yes, I suppose so. If we trust Jesus with her, I guess we can trust him with you. Hurry up, then. They’ll be gone!’
The children skipped out of the house and ran to catch up with the two men. It was a bit of a walk up the hill to where Jesus himself was waiting, on the Mount of Olives. Simon and Rebekah hung back when they saw him, feeling shy, but Jesus said, ‘You’ve brought some friends, then, Philip?’ and held out his hands to them.
Before long, the children felt as if they’d known him for ever. They watched as Jesus stroked their donkey’s head and sat carefully on her back. Then the whole party—Jesus on the donkey, his twelve disciples, Simon and Rebekah—set off down the other side of the hill, towards Jerusalem.
As they walked down the stony road, more children caught sight of the little procession and ran to join it. A few grown-ups came over to see what the children were doing, and when they saw Jesus, they tagged on to the group as well. By the time they reached the valley and started climbing yet another hill, crowds of people were starting to gather by the side of the road.
Suddenly, Simon heard someone call out, ‘The prophecy! Remember the prophecy! Our king is coming to us, riding on a donkey! He’s the king, the Son of David!’ At once, a great shout went up: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna to the King of kings!’
People reached up to the tall palm trees round about and ripped off whole branches, waving them in the air as they sang praises to God. Others threw their coats on the ground to make a soft carpet for the little donkey to walk on, and everyone was dancing and cheering.
Rebekah loved parties, and she didn’t want this one ever to end. But then she looked up and gasped as she caught a first sight of the great city of Jerusalem, its whitewashed buildings shining in the sunlight. ‘Wow! I never realised how beautiful it is,’ she whispered.
At last they were at the gate to the city. Jesus climbed down from the donkey and handed her back to Simon. ‘Thank your parents for lending her to me,’ he said. Rebekah pulled on his sleeve. ‘Are you really going to be our king?’ she asked.
Jesus put his hand on her head and smiled. ‘One day very soon,’ he said, and walked through the gate into the jostling crowd.