EPISODE 01: Jesus Is King
Unit 03 Jesus Reigns
Matthew 21:1-1; Luke 19:28-40

On Palm Sunday a ritual is acted out in countless churches: Sunday school kids waving palm branches invade the adult worship service. Kids march, pictures are snapped, and kids are then herded back to their corner of the church building.

Another charming Palm Sunday service is in the books.

We’re about to set aside that version of what happened in Jerusalem. Instead, we’ll join an excited throng waiting to see Jesus, elbowing our way to the front of the crowd. We’ll hold high the branches we stripped off palm trees, and then we’ll slide out of our coats so we can toss them on the road in front of a colt carrying our King.

Today we’ll GET INTO the middle of that Jerusalem celebration. And after the video, we’ll TALK IT UP and ACT IT OUT, discovering what it means that Jesus is King—our King.

Find a screen and watch “Palm Sunday.” You’ll catch the excitement felt by all those worshipers as Jesus passed by them, and you’ll wish you had a palm branch to wave too! (Spoiler alert: You’re gonna get one!)

Play Video

In today’s video Jesus sends a strong message—He’s King. And when He’s told to silence the celebration, He refuses.

Use these questions to TALK IT UP and dig into what Jesus tells us about His being King as He enters Jerusalem:

  • The celebration that erupted when Jesus entered Jerusalem was dramatic. Why do you think people were so excited to call out that Jesus was their King?
  • A prophecy is a prediction of something that will happen in the future. The Old Testament holds lots of prophecies about the Messiah—the person God was sending to save God’s people. Jesus’ arrival on a colt fulfilled one of those prophecies about the Messiah. Read Zechariah 9:9. What other prophecies about the Messiah did Jesus fulfill? (Here are a few to check out: Isaiah 7:14; Jeremiah 31:31; Psalm 118:22; Micah 5:2)
  • The crowd celebrated Jesus because of the miracles they’d seen. Which of Jesus’ miracles would you most like to have seen?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “If they [His disciples] keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40)?
  • Jesus’ followers sang out their praises. What’s a praise song you like? Would you sing a verse right now?

No one is quite sure why the crowd waved palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Some think it was a familiar way to celebrate. Many years before, God’s people had been told to use palm fronds as part of the joyous Festival of Shelters (Leviticus 23:39-40). Other people think it’s because palm branches had been on Jewish coins before the Romans showed up—those branches represented Israel as a country. And maybe it was because at that time palm trees were handy, with forests of palm trees growing around Jerusalem.

No matter why Jesus’ admirers waved palm branches, we can wave them to praise our King! Here are a few questions and challenges. Choose 1 or do them all!

  • If you heard Jesus was about to pass by and you wanted to praise Him, what would you say or do? Do it!
  • Quick: You need something to wave in the air that honors Jesus as King, but there are no palm branches around. What do you have near you that you could wave? How does the thing you chose honor Jesus as King?
  • Jesus was riding on a colt, but He wore no crown and had no trumpets blaring as He came into view. If you’d met Jesus outside Jerusalem, do you think you’d have recognized Him as a King? Why or why not?
  • Explore how waving a palm branch can help you honor Jesus as your King. Join in now with some Palm Branch Construction.
These questions will help you connect the Bible story to your own lives. Use all the questions or pick 1 or 2—your choice!
  • The owner of the colt handed it over because Jesus wanted to use it. What’s something you think Jesus might be asking you to hand over to Him so He can use it?
  • If Jesus was King of your country and everyone obeyed Him, what do you think would change? What would stay the same?
  • How can you tell if people have decided to accept Jesus as their King? How could someone tell if you’ve made that decision?
  • Given what you’ve heard in this episode, what leads you to think Jesus really is a King? And a King not just for back in Bible times, but also now?

When you walk into the throne room of a king, you do so carefully. You bow when you enter the room. You wait to be spoken to before you speak. You don’t turn your back on the king when you leave the room—you just back out respectfully.

That’s earthly kings—not Jesus. But it doesn’t hurt to give Him the same respect you’d give the king of Trombonia if he were to drop by. (No, that’s not a real country, but it should be.)

So today let’s bow as we pray:

  1. Ask participants to stand and bow from the waist, as though they’re bowing before an earthly ruler. Lead in a brief prayer.
  2. Thank Jesus for being your King. Thank Him for ruling with justice and mercy and for dying on a cross for you. Offer praise and encourage participants to add their own words of praise.
  3. Finish by saying, “In King Jesus’ name. Amen.”

It’s hard to explain that Jesus is your King when you live in a country that doesn’t have a king. Nobody is quite sure what you mean … which gives you a great opportunity to explain!

Helping others understand that Jesus is King lets them see a side of Jesus that isn’t always talked about. Pretty much everyone agrees He’s a great teacher with wise sayings, but His followers know He’s much more than that—He’s their Savior, their Lord, their King.

Here are a few ideas for sharing what you’ve discovered about Jesus being King. We hope they help you launch conversations that give you opportunities to share what and Who you know!

  • Craft a crown out of paper and wear it. Trust us: you’ll get questions. When you do, explain that you’re not a king (or queen!), but you do know an actual King: Jesus. Tell about Him.
  • Write a letter to someone explaining who Jesus is to you: Savior, Lord, Friend—however you want to describe Him. Be sure to include King.
  • Using a sturdy piece of cardboard, scissors, markers, tape (or hole punch), and a safety pin, create a “Jesus for King” campaign button and wear it for a day. When you get asked about the button, explain that Jesus is your King—and you’re hopeful others will join you in saying that. Offer to explain why you think Jesus is King. And, no, He’s not running for the office—He’s already got it!
  • Pray and ask Jesus what you should do to share that He’s your King. But be ready for anything—He may nudge you to read the Bible, serve in a soup kitchen, or mow a neighbor’s yard. If someone asks why you’re doing what you’re doing, explain that your King asked you to do so.

Use the hashtag #GodInAction so we can see what you’re up to!