Pastor’s pondering

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, the recognition of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem as the crowds lined the streets, laying their cloaks and palm branches along the pathway he would travel. “Hosanna” was their cry. “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:9b-10, NRSV).

Now, for most people, we read this passage as one of celebration. The people are excited to see Jesus. They are shouting for joy. They are preparing the way for his arrival and ensuring that everyone in town knew Jesus was finally there. It’s like watching the celebration parade for a winning sports team after they have claimed the national championship. Shouts of joy. Hands, flags, and foam #1 hands waving in the air.

Yet is that what they were really saying and doing? What exactly were these cries of “Hosanna?” Well, to understand, we need only turn to the Psalms. In Psalm 118:25-27, we read these words: “Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.” This is what the crowds were proclaiming that day, the words of the Psalmist. You see, hosanna is a cry for salvation. It is a short way of saying, save us, Lord…give us success! Accompanying the festive procession of palm branches that day were shouts from the crowd for some light to shine in their midst, cries for a savior to come and deliver them, just as King David had done generations before.

And believe it or not, people are still crying Hosanna today. They may not be using that word, but in a very real sense, people today are still looking for someone to shine a light in their darkness and deliver them from their circumstances, too. People today need Jesus’s presence just as much as that crowd in Jerusalem did.

You see, we know what happened in the days that followed, don’t we? We know what Jesus would do for you, and me, and everyone, everywhere, in every walk of life and every point in time. Jesus would enter the gates of Jerusalem that day and a week later walk out of the tomb, alive, risen from the grave, overcoming sin and death for all of us forevermore. Now that is something to wave the palm branches about, isn’t it? That is something to have a victory parade for – for it is the ultimate victory of which everyone can celebrate.

So, as you enter the sanctuary this Sunday to worship on Palm Sunday – will your cries of Hosanna be in celebration of victories already claimed or of your need for that victory still to occur, your moment of salvation because of Jesus’s mighty presence in your life?

Always pondering, Pastor Steve

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