"Hosanna = Save Us Now!" by Pastor A.J. Houseman
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!” These are the famous words that we hear the people gathered in Jerusalem say.
Each year for the festival of passover, a high holiday in Judaism, people from all over the country come and gather together in celebration in their holy city of Jerusalem.
The city swells in size from 50,000 to about 200,000 each year for this festival. It’s like time square on New Year's Eve. And each Palm Sunday we journey with Jesus, as he and his followers make their way into the holy city to give honor to God, sacrifice a lamb, and sing praises of thanks to God for delivering the people out of slavery.
Hosanna! We shout each year as we hear the story of Jesus riding into the city on a colt and the people laying branches and laying their own garments at his feet. Hosanna!
And you may be wondering, is it a parade? Why are these people gathered in the streets? Is it just part of everyone else’s journey into the city? Or is it something else….. Could it be a political statement?
You see along with the 150,000 or so Hebrew people that are flocking to Jerusalem, Pilate is also making his way there. Each year with the passover, Pilate, the Roman appointed ruler over Judea makes his way with his guards and hoard of people in his own lavish parade into the city. To remind them, that they can have their Hebrew holiday and celebrate their God… but remember who is really in charge here. You may sacrifice to your God, but it is Rome that is in charge in this Earthly realm.
So as Pilate makes his grand entrance into the city from the East, and Jesus is making a grant entry from the west. The people are flocking to him, shouting “Hosanna!”
The way we celebrate Palm Sunday, growing up, I always assumed Hosanna was a praise. We say it each week as we give glory to God right before our eucharist meal. So I always thought the people were shouting something like, Holy one! Or Awesome one! Or Great and Mighty! Hosanna!!! Right?
Hosanna means “save us now”.
As the people gather for the passover, to celebrate God’s salvific actions for the Hebrew people, they call out again, “save us now!”
Here are some headlines of what is going on in the world from yesterday: “New COVID cases in Maryland continue above 1,000 as hospitalizations again edge upward”, “Race To Free Giant Ship From Suez Canal Continues”, “Hostage situation at Oklahoma County Detention Center over with one officer taken to hospital and an inmate shot and killed”, “‘Day of shame’: Dozens of anti-coup protesters killed in Myanmar”, “Boris Johnson condemns 'disgraceful' attacks on police at Bristol protest”.
If you entered the end of your Lenten journey in a desperate cry for God to save us, you are not alone. Along with the desperate people gathered in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, we call out to God, “Hosanna! Save us now!”
Save us from a pandemic. Save us from our oppressors. Save us from the violence that is attacking our world. Save us from lies and deceit. Save us from hatred and bigotry in the hearts of all. Save us from ourselves.
We start our journey with Jesus through Holy Week coming to God with shouts of desperate need. “Save us.”
When Jesus rode into the city that day on a colt it was more than a parade. The people gathering in that place knew that he COULD save them. They were throwing themselves at the feet of the messiah. Hosanna.
Despite what the church officials were saying about him. Despite political and mortal danger of resisting Rome. This man was making a scene for all to see. It was a dangerous move to make.
But Jesus rode on. He rode into the city to fulfill their cries. Hosanna.
We come to this day with the knowledge of the resurrection. Knowing that Jesus will journey into Jerusalem to his death. And to his resurrection. The redemption of the world, the salvation that each and every person shouts for today. Hosanna.
So let us now turn to the cross. Turn to the resurrection morning. Turn to God with our pleas and shouts of Hosanna. Amen