Palm Sunday



  1. Students should be able to identify the characters and the action in the icon.
  2. Students should know why we use palms on Palm Sunday.
  3. Students should know that Palm Sunday is the day after Lazarus Saturday and the week before Pascha. Why?


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. The icon: What do the students already know? Christ the central figure, seated on a donkey (Why a donkey?), the disciples on the far left and the Jews on the far right, the children (one in a tree cutting palm branches and one spreading his cloak under Christ), the city of Jerusalem with the Temple with its onion dome.


  1. Scripture readings:

Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11, 15-17, John 12:1-18 (also for Lazarus John 11:1-45)

Epistle: Philippians 4:4-9

Old Testament: Genesis 49: 1-12, Zephaniah 3:14-19, Zechariah 9:9-15


  1. Songs of the Feast:

Troparion: By raising Lazarus from the dead before thy passion, thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God. Like the children with the palms of victory, we cry out to thee, O Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.

Kontakion: Upborne upon the heavenly throne, and seated upon the earthly foal, O Christ our God, receive the praises of angels and the hymns of men, exclaiming before thee, Blessed is He that cometh to restore Adam.


  1. Discussion questions:

When did Jesus hear about Lazarus’s illness?  What did he do? What do we celebrate on Lazarus Saturday?  What happened? Who were the major characters? Was this the first person Jesus raised from the dead? (No, the son of the widow of Nain and the daughter of Jairus, but both had just died; they had not been dead for 4 days) Why is the 4 days important; why did Lazarus “already smell”? (The 4 days show true corruption, the rottenness inside us all, defeated by Jesus in the tomb, since He alone is without corruption or sin) Who did Jesus say that He was to Martha? (I am the resurrection…) 

What’s the shortest verse in the Bible? (piece of trivia, “Jesus wept.” Why did Jesus weep? (because God truly cares, He is the Lover of Mankind) How did the resurrection of Lazarus effect the response of the crowd on Palm Sunday? Explain the Troparion in your own words; the same Troparion is used for Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, why? What did Jesus show the world? (that God’s power is greater than death) Did Jesus enter Jerusalem on a warhorse surrounded with an army? Why not? (He came to bring His love, coming on a peaceful donkey) What was the significance of the donkey? Whose prophecy was being fulfilled? (Zechariah) How’d he get the donkey?

What does “Hosanna” mean? (“I ask you to save me”) Where did the greeting the people gave Jesus on Palm Sunday come from? (Psalm 118: 25-26) Thus Jesus is being recognized as King.  What is the significance of the greeting, “Son of David”? (Jesus is recognized as Messiah.) Did Jesus sneak into the city, afraid of its leaders since He know what they would do to him only a few days later? What would you have done in that situation? Does the raising of Lazarus and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem have any effect on the priests who will later condemn Jesus? (It is because of these and the response of the people, that He was judged and condemned.) What is the significance on Palm Sunday of Jesus’s reddish garments? (From Genesis 49: represent blood) Remember that with our palms of joy we are also called to suffering and death; we cannot have the one without the other!


  1. How does our Church celebrate Palm Sunday? What is the significance of these customs?


  1. Make a flannel story board: Take a pizza box (Pizza shops will usually give you a few for free if you tell them what it’s for.) for each student. Cover the back with light blue flannel. Decorate with palm trees and background buildings with markers or felt. Glue the icon coloring page to a piece of felt. Cut out the figures and color. Use to tell the story to younger children.

6. Can't get pizza boxes? Use a paper plate, fold in half, and color bottom green with a road, and top with scenery. Cut a slit for the puppets to enter between the "ground" and the "sky" almost across the plate, leaving the rim intact. Print icon or coloring icon on cardstock. Cut out the figures from the icon and color them, tape popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners to their backs, and you have a puppet theater to tell the story. Set your "theater" on the edge of a table and stand behind it to have puppets enter through the slit. 












7. Too involved on such a busy day? Make a cross from the palms from church: Take the long skinny palm leaf and fold the thick end down the length that you want your final cross to be. Now fold the long end down the back to where the crosspiece should lie and fold sideways at a 45 degree angle the length of one arm of the cross. Fold it across to make the other arm of the cross and back to the back. Then wrap the short end in figure X around the center to hold the entire cross together and tuck the final end into the back.



            8. Make a felt banner as before.


            9.   Close with prayer.