Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus came to earth with a mission: to bring salvation to all who would believe in Him and trust Him. We read in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Jesus and His disciples had been to Jerusalem many times before, but this—the event we now refer to as Palm Sunday—would be His last journey there. Thousands of pilgrims were on their way to the Passover celebration and the disciples thought that’s what they were doing, too. However, “as they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.’” (Matthew 21:1-2)

This had already been predicted by Isaiah and Zechariah. In Zechariah 9:9 we read: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

After the disciples had spread their garments on the animals, Jesus sat on the colt and continued His journey onward to Jerusalem. This was an historic moment.

By riding into Jerusalem in this manner, Jesus made a deliberate claim to being the Messiah. He was determined to accomplish His mission and nothing would prevent Him from doing it, even though His enemies were planning to kill Him. The cross was His ultimate destination.

“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the names of the Lord’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’” (vv. 8-9)

I heard “Ossana” or “Ovsanna”—variations of “Hosanna”—often when I was a child because that is my mother’s name: “Ossana” in Greek or “Ovsanna” in Armenian. The word “Hosanna” is used as a cry of praise and adoration, as an ecclesiastical term of fervent and worshipful praise. It is also used as a name for people, churches, organizations, etc.

But what is the real meaning of “Hosanna”? The word in Hebrew is: ho – sa – na, which means “Deliver us, save us.” In the Old Testament we see it in Psalm 118:25, which says, “O Lord, save us.” In Jeremiah 31:7, we read: “O Lord, save.” The Hebrew word “save” is the basis for “Hosanna,” the cry of the people of Jerusalem, as we read in  Matthew 21:9—“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

The multitudes shouted: “Son of David, save us now.” Perhaps the people
were trying to say, “Save us from the Roman oppressors.” They thought the kingdom was about to be set up with Christ sitting on the throne of David.

But Jesus knew what all that shouting meant. He knew that very soon they would be shouting, “Crucify Him!” Indeed, when Pilate asked them, “Why? What crime has he committed?” they shouted even louder: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

But on this day, they wanted Him to save them. They shouted “Save us now, save us now!” Yes, Jesus would be the Saviour, the only Saviour. But not by becoming their king and by fighting their enemies, the Romans, but rather by being crucified on the cross and becoming the sacrificial lamb.

Jesus heard their cries of Hosanna— save us—then and He still hears the cries of Save us and Kirie Eleison and Der Voghormia and Sauvez-nous… and He is ready to save. Yet our cry for salvation and His offer of real salvation are not the same thing. Our cry may be for an unconditional salvation from the things we don’t want or enjoy, to things we want and enjoy.

God’s salvation is free and eternal, given to those who come to Him and ask Him to be their Lord and King and promise to serve Him and follow Him. Yes, let us shout and sing praises to our Lord and King, but let us also understand what our praises are all about.

When we cry out and sing Hosannas to our Lord, we are asking Him to save us, but are we ready? Do we really want to be saved? And are we willing to follow Him?

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian