Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. Here we are at the beginning of Holy Week. We’ve accompanied Jesus as he went through the wilderness and then as he came back to the people, teaching and preaching about the love of God and doing marvelous things. He said things to the disciples that they didn’t understand. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Stories about Jesus were quickly passing from person to person and the people were ready to welcome this incredible person whom they felt was destined to be their king, their savior. “Hosanna!” That’s the cry we associate with Palm Sunday. “Hosanna. Hosanna to the Son of David!” What a time it must have been as the people gathered along the road, excited to see Jesus coming into their town. Picture the joy! Picture the excitement. Hear the rising sound of the people’s shouts. Would you have been in the crowd, welcoming Jesus and shouting, “Hosanna”?
Hosanna is a strange word. I went to a dictionary to see exactly what it meant. If you look in a Greek dictionary to find what it means, you find that it is not originally a Greek word, after all. The men who wrote the New Testament in Greek did the same thing to a Hebrew word that our English translators did to the Greek word: they just used Greek letters to make the sound of a Hebrew phrase. Our English word "hosanna" comes from a Greek word "hosanna" which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na. And that Hebrew phrase is found in one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, "Save, please!" It is a cry to God for help.
We see this word as a shout of hope and exultation. It used to mean, "Save, please!" But gradually, it came to mean, "Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!" So "Hosanna!" means, "Hooray for salvation! It's coming! It's here! Salvation! Salvation!"
The word was a cry for help and it is now a cheer of confidence. It was a desperate plea, now it is an expression of profound praise. When our Palm Sunday hymns ring out “Hosanna”, we sing with joy and confidence that indeed Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful day and began his final journey toward our salvation. We can sing “Hosanna!” with confidence and assurance. Salvation! Salvation is here! Jesus is here! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
Yes, picture yourself in the Jerusalem crowd, excited to be welcoming Jesus. Then picture yourself today, in a community of Christians, all expressing the same joy.
“Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna, Son of David!”
Author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.