Today is known as Palm Sunday and on it we take time to remember Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10). It is called Palm Sunday because when Jesus entered Jerusalem some people “spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields” (Mark 11:8). It is called the Triumphal Entry of Jesus because it was on this trip to Jerusalem that He destroyed the power of sin and death and dealt the crushing blow (Gen 3:15) to Satan through His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.
This morning let us reflect on what the crowds were shouting to Jesus when He entered Jerusalem triumphantly. Let us consider the word: “Hosanna”.
Hosanna is our English word that comes from the Greek word “hosanna” which comes from the Hebrew word “hoshee-ah-na”. In Hebrew it is a term that means “save now!” (the now indicates intense emotion). Literally, it is when a person or group experiences intense emotion and cries out for immediate help/salvation. For example, in Psalm 118:25 we read: “Save us [hoshee-ah-na], we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray give us success!” In this context it is a plea for help. The Jewish people, in times of trouble would cry out: “Hosanna!” “Lord, save us now!”
What is interesting is that the usage of hosanna began to be used differently over time. In fact, we can see it even in the verse right after the usage of hosanna. In Psalm 118:26 the Psalmist writes, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.” Over time hosanna becomes less associated with a plea for help “save me now!” and more of a shout of praise “now I am saved!” Both usages are correct, thus hosanna can mean both: “Lord, please save me now!” and “Lord, I praise You because you save me now!” Let us look at this closer.
Hosanna: Save Me Now!
First, let us consider the plea for help. The Church of Jesus Christ must have the cry of hosanna on our lips continually. When we cry out: “Hosanna!” “Lord, save us now!” we acknowledge that we are powerless and helpless without God. The Church in North America must acknowledge this truth because we are finding out quickly that the world around us is changing and the culture of North America is rapidly becoming hostile to Biblical Christianity.
Consider that in the last few years the CEO of a large corporation resigned under pressure for donating $1,000 in support of Biblical marriage. A professor at a major university has encountered severe public backlash for daring to release a study that suggests that children of gay parents experience more unfavorable outcomes compared to children of heterosexual, married parents. A Christian florist in Washington, a Christian baker in Colorado, a Christian T-shirt business owner in Kentucky, and a Christian photographer in New Mexico have all been sued for refusing to use their talents in celebration of homosexuality.
The Church in the USA must acknowledge that the USA has changed and changed for the worse. Russell Moore, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently said that the Bible belt is collapsing and “we are no longer a moral majority”. In fact in a recent population study, 16% of people do not identify with any religion. These “nones” were 2% in 1950 and 10% in 2000. We see the effects of the decline of Christianity all around us in immoral sexuality, murder, and crime. According to a recent study, there have been a total of 137 fatal school shootings that killed 297 victims since 1980. While that is a horrific number, we also must acknowledge that in the last 41 years approximately 50 million children have been aborted in this country. Let us feel the weight of this and may the Church cry out in sorrow: “Hosanna! Lord, save us now!”
What do we do when we find ourselves in a country that is experiencing the judgment of God because they “call evil good and good evil” (Is. 5:20)? We must take our stand on Biblical morality, we need to be active in politics and elect God-fearing men and women to public office, we need to refuse to join in with the debauchery of this present world; but first and foremost (before any of that) we need to be spiritually revived! Read Psalm 85:6. The Psalmist says, “Will You not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in You?” This is what we need. We need to persistently plead with God to revive us again.
In this verse we see that we are called to petition God to revive us. “Will you not…?” is a question that is asked with the expectation that it will be answered affirmatively. It is asked with the expectation that God will revive us again. We also see in this verse that the reason we are revived is so that we would rejoice in our God: “that your people may rejoice in You”. There is only one reason for us to pray for revival and that is so that God’s great name would be praised. In fact, the reason why our country is in such bad shape is because of a lack of love for Christ. Charles Spurgeon wrote in his commentary on Psalm 118:25:
“We plead…let the church be built up: through the salvation of sinners may the number of the saints be increased; through the preservation of saints may the church be strengthened, continued, beautified, perfected.”
Hosanna: Now We are Saved!”
Only through God’s stirring, renewing, and reviving of our hearts will we see our land restored, our families healed, and our churches thriving. Only with Jesus Christ as our stronghold can we stand before a hostile culture and unapologetically proclaim “Thus says the Lord!” Christian, let us earnestly begin to cry out to God for salvation for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our country. Let us be emboldened and in faith see Him work through us. Only with this great move of God will we be able to cry out in joy: “Hosanna! Lord, now we are saved!”