Hosanna in the Highest!
Growing up in a typical Protestant home, I heard over and over how the crowds cried out in praise as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday. Often we would wave palm branches while singing, “Hosanna!” This was all based on the familiar verses in the Gospels.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
For many years I have sang songs of praise crying “Hosanna” thinking I was just singing a praise to God.
What a fickle bunch!
Before the week was out, the crowd was crying “Crucify him!”
Many sermons have been preached on how changeable, how unreliable the crowd in Jerusalem was. Many have questioned how they could praise Him one day and cry out for His death a few days later. Of course, some have said this was two different groups of people.
The Jewish Bible
Recently I have been reading the New Testament in the Complete Jewish Bible. This Bible is an English version fully Jewish in style and presentation. It includes Dr. Stern’s new version of the “Tanakh” (“Old Testament”) and his highly acclaimed “Jewish New Testament.” This Bible follows the Hebrew Bible order of the Tanakh’s books. This would be the order as Jesus knew it. It helps to connect Christians with the Jewish roots of our religion and connects Jews with the Jewishness of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus). It offers the original Hebrew names for people, places and concepts.
Dr. Stern states that his purpose for producing the Complete Jewish Bible was “to restore God’s Word to its original Jewish context and culture as well as be in easily read modern English.”
Reading that same verse in the Jewish Bible has given me a new outlook on that day – and on my own relationship with Messiah Yeshua.
The crowds ahead of him and behind shouted, “Please! Deliver us!” to the Son of David; “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!” “You in the highest heaven! Please! Deliver us
They were quoting from the Psalms – their songbook – their praise book – their poetry book.
Please, Adonai! Save us! Please, Adonai! Rescue us! blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai. We bless you from the house of Adonai.
While I have always thought of the word “Hosanna” as a praise to God – and clearly they were praising Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem – reading it with the original Jewish meaning, it has taken on a new life to me.
Hosanna is a combination of two Jewish words: yasha and na.
to deliver – NASB Translation – avenged, avenging, brought salvation, deliver, delivered, deliverer, deliverers, deliverers who delivered, delivers, endowed with salvation, gained the victory, help, helped, preserve, safe, save, saved, saves, savior, victorious.
I (we) pray, now – NASB Translation – beg, beseech, come, implore, may, now, Oh may, please, please, pray.
They were praising Jesus – but why? Because they saw Him coming to save them from the Roman occupation, to rescue them from a life of servitude to Rome. Their praises were for a conquering hero, not a dying savior.
He turned out to not be what they expected – not what they wanted!
I do not know if the crowd on Palm Sunday was the same as the crowd on Good Friday, but I can understand how they could have been the same. They could praise Him when they thought He would meet their needs in the way they wanted. But praise could easily turn to scorn when they saw their needs would not be met in the way they wanted.
Am I any different?
Often I go to God in prayer and my prayers consist of telling Him not only what I need or want, but exactly how to meet my need or want. My prayers sometimes sound more like a grocery list of what I want or a set of instructions to a servant on what he needs to do for me.
When God does not answer my prayers as I think He should, often I turn to complaining or questioning His love and wisdom.
Limited knowledge and understanding
The crowds in Jerusalem that week had limited knowledge and understanding of God’s eternal plan. If He had overthrown the Roman government they would still have been in need of a Savior. The real need would still be there.
How often does God have a bigger and better plan in mind for me? How often have I thrown away His “better” plans because I wanted to settle for a “good” plan of my own?
“Hosanna” or “Save me?”
When I sing “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday this year, I hope I can really realize what I am singing. Not just some “meaningless praise word” but a cry to God recognizing how much I need His salvation – how much I need Him to rescue me. Let it be a cry for help and a surrender to His answer for me as well as a song of praise!