Palm Sunday 2020


Palm Sunday

Walking with Jesus through Holy Week

A Palm Sunday Service

By Thomas J. Vos


What would it be like to walk with Jesus through Holy Week—the week between Palm Sunday and his resurrection? Each of the gospels presents a glimpse of the story, but to get a fuller picture you really need to piece the gospels together. Michael Wilkins does just that in his commentary on the gospel of Matthew by presenting a harmony of the events of Jesus’ week of passion, including his post-resurrection appearances. We took this outline, selected some of the Scriptures he notes, and formed a service that we used on Palm Sunday evening as an alternative to a Service of Shadows on Maundy Thursday.


Triumphal entry into Jerusalem;

Jesus surveys the temple area; return to Bethany

Scripture reading: Mark 11:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

HYMN: “All Glory, Laud, and Honour”


Dear God,

Thank you for sending your Son and paving the way for our lives to be set free through Jesus' death on the cross. Thank you for what this day stands for - the beginning of Holy Week, the start of the journey towards the power of the cross, the victory of the Resurrection, and the rich truth that Jesus truly is our King of Kings.

"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord..."

We give you praise and honour for your ways are righteous and true. We give you worship for you are holy and just. We will declare that your love stands firm forever. For your lovingkindness endures forever.

Thank you that your ways are far greater than our ways, your thoughts far deeper than our thoughts. Thank you that you had a plan to redeem. Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you that your face is towards the righteous, and you hear our prayers, and know our hearts. Help us to stay strong and true to you. Help us not to follow after the voice of the crowds, but to press in close to you, to hear your whispers, and seek after you alone.

We praise you, we bless you Lord! Thank you that you reign supreme and we are more than conquerors through the gift of Christ!                   Amen.


Cursing the fig tree on the way to Jerusalem; clearing the temple; miracles and challenges in the temple; return to Bethany

Scripture reading: Mark 11:12-19


12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.


HYMN: “Ride on, Ride on in Majesty




Reaction to cursing the fig tree on the way back to Jerusalem; debates with religious leaders in Jerusalem and teaching in the temple; End Times discourse on the Mount of Olives on the return to Bethany

Scripture reading: Mark 11:20-26


20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”




“Silent Wednesday”; Jesus and disciples remain in Bethany for last time of fellowship; Judas returns alone to Jerusalem to make arrangements for the betrayal

Scripture reading: Mark 14:1-11


Palm Sunday Reflection on the word PALM

It is Palm Sunday once again and a flood of reflections grip one’s soul. It is six days before the Passover and one cannot help but see the inter-connectedness of the different dimensions that make the day a deeply spiritual experience. These are the Palm Leaves.


Can there be a Palm Sunday without ‘the people’? Surely not! It is they: the people, the crowds who finally recognize him. They see in him the ‘prophet’, perhaps the Messiah, whom they have been longing for. It is their Epiphany! These are ordinary people; not the people at the margins, like the shepherds, or for that matter the wise men of the East. These are people who are conditioned by the scribes and Pharisees, the manipulators and powerful of their times. However, in one spontaneous act they experience an ‘Arab Spring’: they break free; they remove the shackles, which tie them down. Their voices are tumultuous. It is their NOW moment!




They have the courage to articulate their expectations and in a deeper way, their faith. Those who control their destinies no longer cow them down. They sing their hosannas, loud and clear, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” The angels sang similar words that first night in Bethlehem when this child was born in a stable. Now they use the words “King of Israel” without any hesitation. The Prophet said long ago that he would come in humility seated on a donkey and they revel in this fulfillment.


Letting Go

They have to ‘let go’ in order to let God into their lives. Therefore, they take off their cloaks and spread it on the roads. The significance of that action will never be lost. It was not a mere welcome or the salutations to royalty. It was much more. It was an external manifestation, to get rid of the obstacles that encumbered one in welcoming the Messiah into one’s heart and into one’s life. The cloaks were going to be trampled upon by the donkey, which in some ways represent the temporariness of all that is material. The breaking of the branches for the welcome, also signifies the constant pruning a tree needs, in order to bear good fruit



The triumphant entry Jerusalem was for Jesus a ‘mission statement’. In the past, he said, “my hour has not yet come.” Now he is open, he is defiant; he knows that he is at the end of the journey. In a few days from now, in great agony, but with a sense of triumph we will boldly proclaim from the cross, “It is accomplished!” For the people who wave at him with their hosannas, he looks at them with a pierced heart, “Very soon, you will shout, ‘Crucify Him!’”. They are aware they do not have the determination to follow him to the cross. They will deny him several times over. Yet his supreme sacrifice will challenge all to live that mission here on earth.


Palm Sunday, is therefore an invitation to all God’s people to articulate our faith in the small, simple, ordinary things of daily life, by letting go of all that encumbers us, so that we can truly live the mission entrusted to us, in the here and now!


HYMN Father hear the prayer we offer






Confession and Forgiveness

Jesus rode into Jerusalem not as a conquering king but in humility, the Servant King, ready to complete the task for which he had walked this world. Forgive us those times when we think too highly of ourselves and remind us always that you ask from us lives dedicated to service, to you and to our neighbours, wherever and whoever they might be. Enable us to take off our cloaks of self-righteousness and lay them down at your feet.  Amen

‘Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.’

Psalm 32:5


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father…



Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Almighty God, on this day, your son Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem and was proclaimed King by those who spread garments and palm branches along his way.  Let those branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our Lord, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.  In his name we pray. Amen.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Preparations for Passover; after sundown: Passover meal and Last Supper; Upper Room discourses; prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane

Scripture reading: Mark 14:12-26


HYMN:  The Servant King



Sometime perhaps after midnight: Betrayal and arrest; Jewish trial—Jesus appears in three phases in front of Annas, Caiaphas, and partial Sanhedrin; Sanhedrin fully assembled (perhaps after sunrise); Roman trial—Jesus appears in three phases before Pilate, Herod Antipas, and back to Pilate; crucifixion (approximately 9:00 3:00 p.m.)

Scripture reading: Mark 15:16-39

HYMN: Make Way (Graham Kendrick)

And/Or  The Royal Banners Forward Go  (Traditional)


God’s Blessing

May Christ crucified draw me/us to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with me/us, and remain with me/us always. Amen.