Gather around the table or cozy up on the couch and read this week’s part of The Big God Story.
All you’ll need is a Bible – you can use a physical copy, biblegateway.com, or the YouVersion app on your phone. Choose a translation that’s easy for kids to understand – the NIV is good, but the New International Reader’s Version (NIRV) is probably even better.
After you read, use the discussion questions as a guide to have a conversation.
To end your time together, pray a blessing over your child. (You can use the one below or make up your own!)
The Big God Story:
Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem for Passover. Passover, one of the most important Jewish festivals, celebrated how God had delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to Jerusalem to attend Passover. Many of the people coming to the Passover festival in Jerusalem hoped that Jesus would be there. Imagine a crowd of people, as many as in a sports arena, all hoping to see one person: Jesus. They had heard about how Jesus healed sick people, blind people, and paralyzed people—and how he’d even raised a man from the dead! Can you remember a miracle that Jesus did? Invite your child to respond.
The Jewish people had been waiting since the beginning of The Big God Story for the promised Messiah. The Romans ruled God’s people, and the people thought the Messiah would come to save them from their enemies. They expected a warrior king to ride in on a huge, powerful horse and beat the bad guys so they could be free again to live as God’s people. They expected Jesus to be that warrior king.
As Jesus and his disciples came near Jerusalem, Jesus told them something. Let’s turn to Matthew 21:2-3 to hear what Jesus said. Read these verses aloud as your child follows along.
Jesus knew exactly where to find the donkeys and that they would be given to him. He knew this because he’s God and he knows everything, but he also knew the ancient prophecy in the Bible that predicted what would happen. You see, Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was prophesied more than 500 years before he was even born! Read Matthew 21:4-7.
Jesus knew that his choice to ride in on a donkey would fulfill this prophecy and would reveal him as king. But he wasn’t going to be the type of king that people would expect.
Crowds of people were waiting to see Jesus. Imagine that you’re waiting for a king. What do you think you’d see when he arrived? Invite your child to respond.
Good thoughts. You might imagine that the king would be surrounded by lots of marching soldiers or people riding in chariots. Maybe a trumpet would sound or there would be a band playing like in a parade, going before him and announcing his arrival. Maybe the king would ride a big, beautiful, decorated horse like kings rode as they headed to battle.
Well, Jesus—the King of Kings—chose to enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Why do you think He chose a donkey? Invite your child to respond.
Back in Bible times, donkeys symbolized humility and peace. Jesus rode on a donkey to show his people that he was indeed the true king—but he came in peace. He didn’t come to destroy their enemies, the Romans, like the people hoped.
Let’s read what the crowd did when they saw him. Read Matthew 21:8-9.
The people laid down their coats and palm branches on the road. Palm branches symbolized victory. They shouted “Hosanna!,” which means “Save us!”
Jesus is the King of Kings. He is the king over everything because he is God! The Israelites had expected for so long that the Messiah would be a warrior king, and they wanted him to save them from the Romans. And Jesus did come to save them, but not from the Romans. He had a bigger plan. Jesus came to save people by dying on the cross for their sins and rising again. He came to save people from death! He came to bring them into relationship with God.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the king immortal. That means He lives forever. Jesus is the king of glory. He is strong and wins every battle. The armies of heaven follow Him. Jesus is a righteous king. He makes right decisions that please God. And Jesus is a loving king. The powerful ruler of all chose to free us from our sins by dying for us. When we know Jesus as our king, we can cry out to Him, “Hosanna! Save us!” We can ask him to help us bow down to who he is and what he wants to do in our lives.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, the Israelites recognized him as king. The problem was, they didn’t know what kind of king he was. We, however, have the privilege of knowing Jesus for who he really is: not a king who would save Israel from their enemies, but the king of the whole world and the king of our lives!
– Why did Jesus ride on a donkey?
– What did the people shout as Jesus rode into Jerusalem?
– What does “Hosanna!” mean?
– What did the people expect the Messiah to do?
– What kind of king is Jesus?
– How can you recognize Jesus as the king of your life?
Look your child in the eyes, say their name, and then speak this blessing to them: May you know that God loves you, that he’s always with you, and may you become all that he’s created you to be. May you love God with your whole heart for your whole life.