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  • Writer's picturePastor Paul Harris

Hosanna

a graphic saying "Hosanna: Blessed is the King. John 12:13" with a palm branch and a palm cross in the background

HOSANNA


A word from the people of the first century in Jerusalem as Jesus and his disciples entered the city for the Passover Festival. In Judaism it was a cry for divine help. In early Christian circles, the word became a shout of praise.


Many in the city who gathered for the festival believed and longed for the Messiah, indeed a new king to raise up their country and restore it to the glory not experienced since the time of King David. In our reading this week from the Hebrew Scripture, we hear the liturgy of the people as they say/sing their "Hallel" or praise in Psalms 113-118. They praise God for mighty actions on behalf of the poor, for the mighty power to lead the people of the Exodus from Egypt, for the Lordship of God and God's blessing on Israel, for the healing from illness, and for the victory of God's enduring love in their lives. From Psalm 118, we hear:

"O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

his steadfast love endures forever.

Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures forever."


The expectation was for deliverance. And thus the cry for divine help, "Hosanna!" God Save Us! When Jesus enters the city, the expectation becomes fulfilled. A cry to Jesus as Savior rings out. "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord." Words that we use in our liturgy even today come from Psalm 118. It was used as a cry of the people the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem.


The gospel lesson from John 12:12-16 tells of the crowd that welcomed Jesus. Some had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from his tomb. They recognized the significance of the donkey Jesus rode as a symbol of the Savior. It stood in stark contrast to the war stallions used by Greek and Roman generals when coming through the city gates to condemn and oppress the people. The crowd still did not really understand that death and resurrection would also be part of the Savior's story. For now, there were shouts of praise and a longing for deliverance.


Come, Lord Jesus - save us!


See you Sunday,

Pastor Paul

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