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Grace to you and Peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus.
a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
This is your word, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is Truth. Amen.
Fellow redeemed: It all sounds so festive, doesn’t it; the multitude crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!”? But listen more closely, look now, in your mind’s eye as you consider the scene and see the rictus of the jaw, gaping like so many tumbled skulls, the wildness of the eyes, lids pulled back from their sockets, the urgent keening in those clamoring cries.
That Spirit-driven multitude, prophetic in their greeting as Jesus fulfills ancient prophecies that day, what are they saying; really? What manner of greeting must this be? What’s going on here? What is this?
We all know Palm Sunday, the Triumphal Entry, but for a moment, defamiliarize yourself, come to it as an alien thing. What is this?
Is it joyous? Yes. Why? Why the festivity over Jesus’ approach?
Jesus has just raised His three-day-gone friend Lazarus. Dead and buried, Jesus waited till he was as dead as dead can be; ’Till the worms had taken up their customary residence in the dirt over him; ’Till there was no hope. And when there wasn’t any hope, when loving sisters Mary and Martha had begun to come to grips with the loss, had steeled themselves to move on in the daisy-chain of heartache you know as your lifetime, Jesus came, declaring “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” He said this to Martha. Sister Mary had already prepared her Lord for burial, pouring out the fragrant oil, wiping His feet with her hair. A burial for a burial. Jesus must go where He fetched Lazarus, calling to the friend “Come forth!” The dead man rose, dead no more.
Why the fervent keening call of the crowd, “Hosanna!” “Hosanna to the Son of David!” It’s not the first time, you know. Before though, the crowd was annoyed when the son of Timeaus you know as the blind man of Jericho heralded the approaching Jesus “Son of David, have mercy on me!” For all the crowd’s shushing, he kept at it. Jesus heard the blind man, and gave him sight.
In the silence of the hopeless graveyard, along the pitiless Jericho way, Jesus was making His way. Healing Bartimeaus, raising Lazarus, till at last He comes to the City of God, the Temple’s home, Jerusalem– where prophets were sent. Jerusalem– where prophets were murdered. Cruel Jerusalem, where the lambs were sent to die. Even now, the first working day of Passover, the vast herds were being led in, as Jesus, the Lamb, is led in along a palm-strewn way. And they cry to the Son of David their ‘Hosannas’ and we sing with them, but do you know what they are saying? Do you know what you are saying?
When you cry ‘Hosanna’ you are pleading to be saved. When you cry ‘Hosanna’ you are praying for rescue beyond all hope. When you cry ‘Hosanna’ you are saying an Hebrew word “Save us!” is what it means. “Save us!” you pray, for with the multitude who had heard of Him who gave sight to the blind, and now life to poor dead and buried Lazarus, you begin to realize that Jesus is the One who can do what your works cannot gain for you.
You cannot make yourself not die. The day is coming when you shall go to ground, and there is no device or strategy to be found whereby you may long avoid it. The gifts of nutrition and medicine are wonders. But they are like dogs on a leash. They have their limit beyond which they cannot reach. And death comes. No matter how eager you may be to be young again and new again and to live, this is beyond anybody’s doing. Death may take a little while, and you may claim a century or a little more. Or death may come with an infant’s borning breath; pitiless as it is. But it comes.
Now comes Jesus, and Jesus has healed the blind man, healed the paralytic, the deaf, the fevered, the possessed, the young girl, and the servant from death, and now the long-dead Lazarus He has raised from the grave. Now comes the only One who takes upon Himself the sin of the world, takes death too, and defeats it that they all were raised, healed, healthy.
So we cry out ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Save us!’
And you know your own dying. As the thief you come to yourself and recognize that you are dying because of your sin. You are dying because frankly that’s what you’ve got coming, along with the whole dying human race entire. But here comes the One who doesn’t have it coming, but sees your condition, sees your sin, sees your dying, and interjects. He comes to frankly get in your way. Jesus, uninvited comes, and you begin to realize what He’s up to. He’s up to saving you from your own death, and you cry out “Save us!” “Hosanna!” you cry it out in Jesus’ native tongue, and in your own. Own it. That’s what all the hosanna-ing is about. That’s all that it’s about. The cry of desperate, dying men crying to the Son of David for rescue. Rising from your dusty place in the ditch you cry out “Son of David, have mercy on me!” and you annoy the crowd.
It’s an unbelieving crowd around you these days. Most just want you to shut up and go to hell.
The want you to go to hell.
Why not? That’s where they’re going.
But you keep on crying “Have mercy!” “Save me!” “Hosanna!” and as your Savior nears, nothing, nothing, nothing will shut you up. Why shut up just because an unbelieving, dead world doesn’t want to be disturbed? Why hide your light because the blind are annoyed you can see? Why surrender any hope because the hopeless tell you to? “Have mercy!” the blind man cries, and the thief on the cross joins in, and then more and a multitude begin to shout it with you “Save us!” “Hosanna!” “Save us!” “Hosanna!”
If Jesus can save you from eternal death and hell, why shouldn’t you want His three-fold gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation? He rides now into the City to make a great exchange.
His life, for yours. His life, for the life of the multitude. His life, for the life of the world entire. He rides into Jerusalem you see, to take your death, to die your death, and to undo the power of it, of the devil, to overthrow the place of man in hell itself forevermore.
And to rise.
He raised Lazarus on the third day. Jesus rose triumphant from that loaner-tomb on the third day. And in the fulness of time, on the Last Day, your grave shall blow open wide and He shall raise you too.
Your sin and eternal death have been taken by Jesus. You have none left. He took them, and blew them all to hell. Like a fist through a paper wall, Jesus has destroyed the power of sin and death forever. What once trapped and imprisoned you forever now has a big hole in it. That’s where Jesus went. Death itself is now but a doorway, a portal, the big rip where Jesus blasted it through for you to eternal life.
That’s why Jesus is coming into Jerusalem to die on the cross.
That’s why you sing your hosannas now, without any desperation. The Savior has saved you. Your death is but a moment. Your grave, packed well under all that dirt though it may be, is but a rental. You won’t be staying. Life in Christ is sure.
He has already blown through the power of sin and death.
The world still doesn’t want to hear it. But you have the power of life in your voice and hands dear one. Don’t let the world shut you up. Don’t settle for hell. Be prepared, loving, and kind, and always give an answer to the hope that is in you. And let them wonder, those dying hellbound. Let’em all wonder; at the hope they see in you. The Light of Christ is dawning, the Daystar arising. Lift up your heads and join the joyous cry, He’s coming! Let them all wonder, and gather them in with you, those who would hear it, and let them join in the hopeful cry “Hosanna!”
The peace of God which passes all understanding is guarding over your heart and mind through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.