Passion Week (Palm Sunday)

Passion Week (Palm Sunday)



This week, we are breaking away from our series in 1 Thessalonians to prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday. But before we can celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in all of its glory, we must first set our minds on the mystery of Jesus’ crucifixion. Why did Jesus die on a cross? And what did his death accomplish for his people? These are some of the questions we will consider today. But as we begin, let’s start with a provocative question for discussion: Do you think Jesus had to die on the cross for God to fulfill his saving plan? Why or why not?

At the cross, Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice, which satisfied the just demands of God against us for our sins. This theological word for this is "propitiation."


Read Romans 3:19-26 aloud.


  • In verse 20, Paul declares that no one can be justified [reckoned righteous] through the works of the law. In Paul’s Jewish context, the works of the law refer to things like circumcision, offering sacrifices, and observing food laws. Jews thought that keeping these laws made them part of God’s people. 
    • What are modern examples of works of the law? In other words, what are some things people try to do to be accepted by God?
    • According to verses 20 and 23, why can no one be reckoned righteous by keeping the law?

  • Paul has just argued that no one can be reckoned righteous by keeping the law because no one keeps the law perfectly. Instead of making us righteous, the Law is like a mirror. It simply reflects back to us our sin, rendering us guilty before God. In verse 21, however, Paul speaks of a different kind of righteousness.
    • What does Paul call this righteousness in verse 21? And what does this tell us about where the righteousness comes from? 1
    • According to Paul in verses 22-24, how do sinful people access this righteousness from God? 2
    • What do you think it means to have faith in Christ?

  • In verse 25, Paul tells us that God was able to reckon us righteous by faith in Christ because he put Christ forward as a “propitiation by his blood.” The word “propitiation” means a satisfaction of justice, and Paul is saying that when Jesus shed his blood on the cross, he satisfied the total demands of God’s justice, which stood against us because of our sins. We all sin every day and break God’s law. How do you think the doctrine of propitiation might find practical expression in your daily life? 

  • In verse 26, Paul concludes this section by saying that God is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” 
    • How does the cross, specifically the idea of propitiation, show us how God can be both just and justify sinners simultaneously?
    • Read verse 27. What is Paul’s application to the doctrine of propitiation. 3


1 Paul calls this the “righteousness of God”, indicating that this righteousness comes from God himself and not from human effort to keep the law.
2 Paul calls this the “righteousness of God”, indicating that this righteousness comes from God himself and not from human effort to keep the law.
3 Paul says that, because we are justified by faith alone through the propitiatory work of Christ, there is now no grounds for human boasting.