Devotional reflections on Palm Sunday
Going Deeper | “If Any Want to Become My Followers…” | Lent [3/28-9] | John 12:12—16
By Anna Moseley Gissing
12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.
John 12:12-16 NRSV
Prayer of Confession
God, gracious and forbearing: We remember with sorrow how people hailed and welcomed your Son on the day we have come to call Palm Sunday, and how so many of the same people were there again, just a few days later, shouting, “Crucify Him!” We confess that we feel a guilty, uneasy kinship with these people. We, too, lack solid, well-thought-out foundational principles against which to test the latest fads or siren calls. We, too, switch our votes in whatever direction self-interest seems to dictate, in order to stay popular or safe. Remind us, O God, of the courage of Jesus, who set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem, even though he knew the fate that awaited him there. For his sake, grant us renewal of your offer of mercy, unearned and undated, in Christ’s name we pray.
Questions for Reflection
- Why is Jesus coming to Jerusalem? What is the response of the crowd to his arrival? Why do we call this day Palm Sunday?
- How do you imagine the disciples felt about getting the donkey? Are there requests that Jesus is making of you that you don’t understand? How might you respond?
- Do you think it’s easier to believe in Jesus today than it would have been if you were alive during his earthly mission? Why or why not?
- Do you resonate with the disciples whose understanding is routinely incomplete? In what ways?
- When have you realized that God was at work behind the scenes in ways you didn’t understand at the time?
- How can you be faithful now in the “muddy middle” when you aren’t sure what God is doing? What is one action you could take?
Hosanna! Blessed are you, Lord Jesus. You are the King of Israel and the King of the world. And you have come to save us. May we not turn our backs on you as the crowd did just a few days after they welcomed you as King. Reveal to us our own fickleness and our own incomplete understanding. Make known to us the ways we have missed you and misunderstood you. Remind us of the ways you are at work behind the scenes of our lives. Remind us that you, our Master, know what you are doing. During this Holy Week, help us to be faithful even though we don’t understand fully. Lead us into your love as we head towards Good Friday. Amen.