The Triumphal Entry: Temple Scene

The drama that follows was prepared for the opening of Palm Sunday worship in the Hope Community Church of Flaggstaff, Arizona, a congregation of only fifteen families. Fred Walhof, pastor of the small congregation and one of those who produced this drama, told us something of the history of and preparation for this special worship service:

In past years the children have marched in a processional and waved palm branches for the beginning of our Palm Sunday services. This year the chairman of our worship committee asked if we could do something more so that the children would have a better understanding of the meaning of "Hosanna!"

We are fortunate to have in our fellowship Jonathon Levy-Gerdan II, a professional ballet dancer and a Jew who has come to know the Messiah. We asked him if he would be willing to assist in putting together a production of the temple scene involving the children and Jesus' quotation of Psalm 8. We also asked if he would be willing to play the part of Jesus in such a production. He agreed, and togethe we produced the staging and script that follow.


Money Changer #1 Money Changer #2 Rabbi Narrator
Crowd Chief Priest Pharisee Jesus
Lame Person Blind Person Children's Nanny Temple Children

Money Changer #1: Get your Gentile money exchanged here! Good prices for your pagan currency! (Repeatedly) The two money changers are in position as the scene opens. The rabbi is also in position and is "davening" (reading the prayer book and bowing after each prayer).
Money Changer #2:One shekel in exchange for 50 Roman denarii! Let me help with your temple gift! (Repeatedly) The money changers begin hawking their wares, addressing the congregation.
Narrator: The crowds went ahead of him, and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,  
Crowd: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel! The congregation is the crowd.
Narrator: When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The Chief Priest and the Pharisee enter and take position near the rabbi. The rabbi begins offering doves for sale. Jesus appears at the back of the sanctuary.
Crowd: This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!  
Rabbi: See, this is getting us nowhere.  
Pharisee: Look how the whole world has gone after him!  
Jesus: If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. Jesus comes down the aisle speaking.
Money Changer #1: Get your Gentile money exchanged here! Good prices for your pagan currency! (Repeatedly) Money changers go into action again. The rabbi continues offering doves for sale.
Money Changer #2: One shekel in exchange for 50 Roman denarii! Let me help you with your temple gift! (Repeatedly)  
Narrator: Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. Jesus overturns the money changers' table and confiscates the doves.
Jesus: It is written, "My house will be a house of prayer"; but you have made it "a den of robbers." Said toward the Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi. They withdraw toward stage right.
Narrator: Then the blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. Blind person and lame person get up from their place in the crowd and start toward Jesus. They help each other. Jesus meets them.
Narrator: The chief priests and theteachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him. Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi shun them and mutter together.
Jesus: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  
Narrator: Yet they could not find any way to do it, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.  
Blind Person: I can see! Wow, I can see! Jesus heals the blind person. (Action involves touching and supporting as actor sees fit.)
Lame Person: I can walk! I'm healed! Jesus heals the lame person. They fall on their knees before Jesus in gratitude.
Children: Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna! (Repeatedly) Children enter from all aisles waving palm branches, gather around Jesus, lay the palms around him, and sit around his feet. Jesus interacts with the children—holds one in his arms, etc.
Narrator: When the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and heard the children shouting in the temple area, they were indignant. The Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi approach Jesus.
Rabbi: Do you hear what these children are saying? The children cringe, back away, or cling to Jesus.
Pharisee: Listen to them! How awful!  
Chief Priest: Do you hear what they call you? That is blasphemy!  
Jesus: And have you never read, Trom the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'? Father, glorify your name! The Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi turn away in anger.
Narrator: Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. Children look up.

Jesus: This voice is for your benefit, not mine.

I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, you can say to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea," and it will be done.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.

Jesus points at the Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi.

They turn and sneer.

Children gather upstage—toward choir pews (or area from which they can sing).

Money Changer #1 starts to move toward Jesus. #2 watches him. #1 turns to #2 to pull him along.

Money Changer #2 goes part way, then throws #l's hand off and stomps over to the Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi. #2 points to Jesus. They shake their heads and mutter among themselves.

Money Changer #2 sits at Jesus' right side.

Narrator: The crowd spoke up,  
Crowd: We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, "The Son of Man must be lifted up"? Who is this "Son of Man"? Jesus reaches down and extends hand to Money Changer #l,who then stands.
Jesus turns to the crowd.
Jesus: You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.

Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.

The Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi get more angry.

Said to Money Changer #1.
As Jesus is speaking, he turns to the crowd and begins to exit down the center aisle. Money Changer #1 follows him.

Narrator:Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. The Chief Priest, Pharisee, and Rabbi come center stage.
Rabbi: See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!  
Pharisee: If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him. Pharisee and Rabbi begin to exit.
Chief Priest: It is better that one die for the people than that the whole nation perish. Pharisee and Rabbi stop to listen, then continue to exit. Chief Priest exits.
Children Sing: "The King of Glory Comes" Children move into final position to sing and proceed with their song.
General Notes
  • Plan to use costumes— especially robes, prayer shawls, head pieces, and yahmulkahs or kipots. (Kipots can be obtained by contacting the local synagogue.)
  • The presence of the children's nanny is both authentic (Gentile women were used to bring children to the outer courts of the temple) and practical in the presentation (the very small children need an older teenager or adult to guide them).
  • For money, consider using gold, foil-wrapped chocolate candy, which can be distributed to the children after the worship service.
  • The lines for the congregation (crowd) can be printed in the bulletin or projected on an overhead. Have the narrator give cues to the crowd.
  • During church school in the preceding weeks, inform the children of the plan, the story, and their role in the drama. Practicing their processional with the "nanny" and the person who takes the part of Jesus will only heighten their anticipation and understanding. They should know the "Hosanna" lines and the Israeli song "The King of Glory Comes (PH 370), preferably performed with rhythm instruments and descant (see KW13). Perhaps the adults could sing some of the stanzas with the children.
  • The action should not be rushed. Give time for the movement to occur and for people to absorb the symbolism.
  • The scene takes about 10-12 minutes. It can serve as the opening of the worship service on Palm Sunday.
  • Scripture references in the following order are found in the script:

Matt. 21:9
John 12:13
Matt. 21:10-11
Luke 19:38
Mark 11:10
John 12:19
Luke 19:42
Luke 19:45
Mark 11:16
Luke 19:46
Matt. 21:14
Mark 11:18
John 12:23
Luke 19:48
Mark 11:18
Matt. 21:15-16
John 12:28
John 12:30
Matt. 21:21
John 12:24-26
John 12:31-32
John 12:34-37
John 12:19
John 11:48
John 11:50

Staging and Script by Jonathon Levy-Gerdan II and Fred J,Walhof.Script is almost entirely a compilation from the four gospels, New International Version.

Reformed Worship 14 © December 1989, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.