1Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Palm Sunday conjures up the use of one word – Hosanna! The only time we find this word used in the entire Bible is in 3 of the four Gospels as the events of what we now call Palm Sunday are told. In fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey colt for He is the true King.
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.
The people gather to greet Him because by this point, He is famous. He is the One who can provide food where there is none. He is the One who can heal the lame and blind. He is the One who casts out demons with a mere word. He is the One who raises people from the dead! So the people gather, waving palm branches and laying their cloaks down on the path before Him. And while He passes, they shout “Hosanna!” The reason we don’t use this word very much in our own worship is because it really doesn’t mean very much. It simply means “save.” These people were awaiting the One who could indeed save them from eternal destruction, but they were interested in being saved from other things – like famine, sickness, and the rule of tyrants.
Today when we want to worship our God, we use words like Alleluia and Praise. Now these are strong words! Psalm 106:1a says, “Praise the Lord!” Alleluia could also be put into that sentence, as the two words are the same in the Hebrew. The actual definition is the fascinating point for the day. “Praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah” actually mean FLASH FORTH the Name of Yahweh! Now that’s some action for you. It brings up images of lightning; that sudden bursting forth of energy and power that is found in the Name of God. Genesis 1:3 describes the creation of light this way. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,” and there was light.” The word for “let there be” is Yahweh! He uses His own name to flash forth the creation of the world. It’s a fantastic picture.
So, on Palm Sunday, while the kids are waving their palms and shouting “Hosanna!” you can smile and realize that we truly do have a God who saves and is worthy of so much praise and shouted Hallelujahs!