Palm/Passion Sunday: Sixth Sunday in Lent

March 28, 2021
Primary Text: John 12:1-19
Big Idea of the Message: Again & Again, We Draw on Courage
On Palm Sunday, we remember that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was not a risk-free, palm party. It was a protest parade—a protest against those in power, a parade to prepare the way for a different kind of king. And this was all happening with plots to kill Lazarus (and Jesus) building in the background. We’re reminded that the crowds were brave to show up that day, and that Jesus drew on courage to face his journey to the cross. The root of courage is “cour,” meaning “heart.” Courage is deep within us; drawing on courage is both internal and external. We often find it when we most need it, when everything else has been stripped away.

Discussion Questions:
  • How do you define courage? How do you access it? What events in your life have required the most courage?
  • In this scripture reading, note each character who draws on courage and each character who avoids it. What does each character risk and what do they gain?
  • What message is Jesus signaling—to the empire, to his followers, and to the ones plotting to kill him? Those within the crowds who are devoted to—or at minimum, sympathetic to—Pilate are surely deluded by this act. Why does Jesus choose this public (and subversive) display? Why not avoid those plotting against him, entering Jerusalem quietly?
  • Considering the historical context of this text, our liturgical Hosannas are not simply shouts of praise—they are also theological assertions. Our Hosannas mark what we believe about God and how God shows up in our world. What are the many meanings of our Hallelujahs on this day?