The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. [NRSV]
The words of praise. Hurray! Glory! Wonderful! come to mind, but this is a more unique word that Hebrew and recorded in Jesus’s native Aramaic. It is a phrase word. Just as the folks from Athens, GA might say: “How ‘bout them Jackets” (haha, twist intended) it would be a celebratory “Glory, Glory to ole Georgia.” If these phrases were encapsulated into a word we would the idea of ‘Hosannah”
Hosanna began as Lord, God Save us! and through the Gospel’s has come to mean, Highest Praise, who has saved us. So their use of the original context is twisted with the early church’s use of the old testament word.
So we have Palm Sunday as a pre-celebration that Jesus coming into the world, and in our hearts and lives, is the celebration of our salvation.
Which means if Jesus does not come to the world, to our heart, and to our town, then we are NOT saved. Here in is theological of preparing for a life as Easter People.
We usually only read this passage as an observer of a historical event, but it is shared in the Gospels as Good News and not just historical newspaper clippings.
Hosannah: Jesus has saved me, even though we celebrate the death on Good Friday and the Resurrection of next Sunday as Easter, we look at this story of entry into the city as a necessary part of the process.
We prepare for Easter knowing it is our victory march! The ASSURANCE of what WILL be and not just hope of what MIGHT be.
The disciples did not gather to get Creighton’s Florist to order dozens of palms to be ordered, the palms were a response from the people who are making a traditional sign of welcoming the king.
This is a difficult time for us to respond in unison with any unifying act of praise and celebration because we have become a culture of suspicion, rebellion and divided support.
Some might hope, in our country that the “Stars and Stripes” would be an obvious rally flag. For some, it an illicit political protest.
I hope that you will do the spiritual work to see that the people might have divided reasons for welcoming Jesus as King.
Some who were in the crowd that day had experienced Jesus teaching, healing or miracles, while others knew only the oppressive Roman rule, and still, others were supporting glorious days of kings of the past hoping for the revival of political greatness.
Bottom line the palms are unifying symbols of many different individual reasons, some helpful and some dangerous.
Why a donkey’s colt?
Jesus came to town with is Colt? Would mean have met the expectation of many who were hoping for a new sheriff to clean house and restore order. When in fact, Jesus comes in humility to spiritually reorder the whole world and all time.
Think of the Jesus riding in a church parade. If this were a political parade there would have been legions of soldiers, a banner of the empire and emblems of Cesear. This is a church parade. Not everyone entered a float, but the people respond as if it is a political, flag-waving event.
Jesus rides in, not in a BEAST of an armored car, not on the back of a convertible, not even proud Clydesdale stallion. It’s more like he rides in on a pickup truck, not a four-door, HEMI, but a simple work truck.
But the symbol for some would be as if the self-proclaimed president was riding in ‘on’ a smart car. You know that Consumer Reports does not the rate the “Smart Car” in their rating in a polite way of saying: “If you can’t say something good and helpful, don’t say anything at all.”
The palms and praises are the people’s response, Jesus message is the spiritual work that is being completed through the events of the week at hand. We call it Holy Week, but it is the week when everything we hold dear is lost and hope is out of our grasp… Oh, how we long for Easter, Salvation, Life, and Christ!
Wave OUR palms because we need to lead others out of hopelessness, fear, and sin into the joy that aways through the journey at hand.
This is what we share, this is why we praise, this is why we are the church, we are Christian, not for ourselves, but for OUR collective hope in the ONE who does save us. This week of Journey is the toughest part. Reach out to one who is in the hardest part o that spiritual and physical journey sharing the hope and joy that we KNOW is coming soon!