Hosanna! – April 2, 2023 (97-98/365)

It was a good day yesterday. I say this partially because, well, one of the leaders who made the conscious decision to join and stay in my fold has come back from Canada, with a testimony of God’s goodness. And I say it is the goodness of God because I don’t necessarily see how we as human beings could pull off the sort of mental health recovery, reconciliation, and healing that she witnessed and shared. Of course, there’s only so much I could think about from my limited perspectives and ways of thinking, but how the healing came beyond my own considerations and beyond the borders of my own imagination – well, that’s what makes me call it a miracle, and that’s what makes me call it not mere goodness, but the goodness of God.

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of April, and the first Sunday of the second quarter of this crazy year of 2023. Much movement has been plotted. Much movement has happened, and with that in mind, much thinking and consideration still has to be given, so we have an appropriate series of scriptures, or an appropriate theme to apply – both for the kids of the Junior and Senior High (but if I’m honest it’s mostly Junior High that shows up), and for my main talking time every Sunday afternoon. I am thankful that the first real week of April happens to be Holy Week – meaning more ‘me’ time for reflection and clarification towards action, and action towards reflection and clarification. In other words, there’s more time for doing and learning, and learning and doing – greater chances for parabolic progression in these coming days.

I was thinking of what to talk about for this Palm Sunday, and I wanted as much as possible to stay away from what I talked about this time, last year. As I took a quick glance through the video of my message last year, I took the approach of looking at the common points between each of the Gospels’ recollection of Palm Sunday… Then I stopped watching the message and knew, for sure, that whatever I do talk about this time around, well, it definitely won’t be a direct copy of what was mentioned last year. Why? Here’s a lesson for me right now – The theme of the year makes all the difference. Sure, we’re going to keep talking about the Triumphal Entry of Christ every Palm Sunday, just as we cover the usual themes of Christ’s victory over death, and Christ’s receipt of His becoming sin and death through His resurrection on the Sunday that follows. Last year was different in the sense that I talked about these events from the intention of having us overwhelmed by Christ and His finished work; This year, I talk about the same thing from the standpoint of our moving, and moving forward, higher, deeper, and wider.

So, here goes.

I decided to get my Scripture today from what the apostle John had to say about the events that we now call Palm Sunday.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

As early as here, I thought I’d be a neat idea to talk about ‘Hosanna’ on Palm Sunday, before we talk about ‘Halleluyah’ on Easter Sunday. And in the process of looking up ‘Hosanna’, Google brought me to an article which said the following: The Hebrew word, “hoshi’a na,” is translated in Greek as “(h)osanna.” In English, we known it as “hosanna.” The original intent of the scripture is “Save!”

Putting this into consideration, I also found out through the ESV that what the crowd was crying out as Jesus passed through, riding on a donkey – well, it wasn’t something that they just came up with. Apparently, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’ was a phrase derived from the Psalms, namely in Psalm 118:25-26:

Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.

Now I had to make the connection here. Based on what we just read, ‘Hosanna’ doesn’t necessarily just mean ‘save’, but from the choice of words in the Psalm, and in the translation, Hosanna is an entreaty, a recognition, a call for another entity (and most of the time, it’s God), not only to save us, but to give us success.

I suppose it couldn’t be helped. My worship team absolutely had to sing ‘Hosanna’ by Hillsong as part of their worship lineup. Well, getting through the cringe I guess I have to be thankful to them, because we picked something up here, something that I could have not seen if I stuck strictly to the Gospel of John. See, part of the chorus has all of us singing – not merely ‘Hosanna’, but ‘Hosanna in the Highest’. Now I know I could definitely be wrong about this but I made the connection here by saying that, when we sing out to God, Hosanna in the Highest, we are acknowledging that there is no one greater than God who can help us and save us, and there is no one higher than God who can give us success.

I could imagine our brothers and sisters in Israel back in the day – well, they had that on their own minds as they saw this Man riding on a donkey, entering Jerusalem that day. There is no one higher than that Man that can help them and save them. There is no one greater than Jesus Christ who can give them success.

Speaking of a donkey, the Gospel goes on to say the following:

And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

Thanks to the ESV I’ve learned that these words were from the prophet Zechariah. In Zechariah 9:9 it says the following:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

If it isn’t clear by now, I’m saying that we ought to look at Christ – or, well, we have the privilege and opportunity to look at Jesus Christ, not merely as Savior, but the Highest One who is able to save us. This scripture from Zechariah goes even further by saying that not only does Christ give us… well, the ‘highest’ salvation – He HIMSELF is our Salvation. That Man that once rode on a donkey, He’s not only able to give us the highest, absolute salvation – He IS Salvation. I didn’t mention this but Jesus’ name in the Hebrew is Yeshua, which I’m brought to understand literally means, Salvation, or God Saves. 

Friends, of all the things we remember on Palm Sunday, Christ  is our Righteous King who saves and who gives us success, at the absolute highest level!

The Scripture goes on:

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

I’m reminded of the effects of worship as seen in the story of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. It’s been something we’ve talked about again and again throughout the first quarter of this year – if the enemy is upon us and we’ve no choice but to go out to war, or if we’re forced to face enemies, circumstances and/or situations without the luxury of time and preparation, we would do well to follow what the Holy Spirit has to say… and let’s not be surprised if He does tell us to put worship in the frontline.

Remember what happened when the armies of King Jehoshaphat complied to the advice of the Holy Spirit? The worshippers sang, and as they were singing, all three armies that were supposedly united against Israel were confused, and they started fighting each other, killing each other. I’m not sure if there were any survivors in their horrific confusion but I’m assuming that whoever did stay alive in the chaos was chased and cut down by the army of King Jehoshaphat.

The singers in the frontline were asked to sing, specifically: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever”. Just so we’re all on the same page, this is what happened next:

And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.

When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the LORD. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.

2 Chronicles 20:22-29

Again, so we’re on the same page: We worship as we go to war, but let us not be surprised if (1) The Lord makes us rejoice over our enemies (there were no survivors, by the wayay), and let’s not be startled if (2) the fear of God comes on all the kingdoms of the countries, when they hear that the Lord has fought against our enemies.

But here’s the thing. I go through those passages we’ve quoted from the Gospel of John, covering Palm Sunday, and I see that there’s something else to rejoice about: not only will our enemies be scattered! Let us NOT be surprised if people come to meet us to want to see Jesus, when we sing of His steadfast love, and of His goodness, and of His power over death and the grave!

See, through the story of King Jehoshaphat, and the details of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, we see another aspect to the salvation we have in Christ… that of Complete Victory: Not only are our enemies scattered, but the world shall see, and they shall come.

And this is where I’ll end. Our lives in the body of Christ can be seen from so many perspectives, but today, we see how the events of Palm Sunday would have us cycling from proclaiming one of two things:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever”

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Friends, we’ve only started Holy Week, and already we have so many wonderful revelations. I pray we have a good week filled with revelations as we reflect upon the goodness of God, seen in Christ and His finished work.

Until the next post (which will come very soon), God bless you.

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