Hosanna to the Son of David
Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
The setting for this joyful song of triumph is found in the first part of Matthew 21. (NIV)
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 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. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
If you would have been a Jew during Jesus’ time, your parents likely would have taught you about the coming Messiah. The Jewish nation had been waiting for the fulfillment of this prophecy for hundreds of years. They had been under Roman oppression for a while now and were sick of it. They were also convinced that the King who would come to save them, was going to kick out the Romans.
While Jesus made some people really angry, it seemed that He brought the general Jewish populous quite a bit of hope. Though some of them weren’t necessarily spiritual followers, here was a “zealot” who might actually get the job done, even if His teachings were pretty weird.
I can just see these two Jewish guys hanging out in the marketplace talking about it:
Ezra: “. . .Oh, and speaking of rabbis, you know that guy, Jesus, the one who walks all over the place with that bunch of ignorant fishermen and a tax collector?”
Samuel: “Of course I do! I wasn’t born yesterday!”
Ezra: “Chill, Sam! Don’t get your loincloth in a wad! I was just asking. Anyway, did you hear what He said the other day?”
Samuel: “I’ve heard stories, but what was it this time?”
Ezra: “Well, my brother Judah, got to hear him teach the other day, and He said a lot of strange things. But the strangest thing He said was that people were supposed to eat His flesh and drink His blood!”
Samuel: “You’re kidding!”
Ezra: “I know, odd, right?” But that’s what He said.”
Samuel: Well, hey, I guess we can put up with a little of that, if He’s going to kick out the Romans, like some people say. He’s not really like the other zealots though. He keeps talking about loving your enemies. . .”
It probably wasn’t quite like that, but I like to think it was.
By this time, Jesus fame had reached its peak. Rumor had spread about His power, teaching, and miracles. Some people liked Him because He loved them, gave them significance, and taught about revolutionary ideas about His Kingdom. Others saw his leadership and thought He was the revolutionary they awaited, the King that would rid them of the Roman scourge.
So when He entered Jerusalem astride a donkey saddled with His disciples’ cloaks, who knows what triggered the reaction, but the crowd, likely for various reasons burst into a joyous frenzy. It was literally, a pep rally for Jesus.
Many people took of their cloaks and spread them on the ground in front of Jesus, which in that time was a sign of submission to a king. They must have been pretty convinced, because obviously having your cloak trampled by a donkey and a celebrating crowd, wouldn’t be that great for your average cloak. Others, caught up in the spirit of the group, raced to nearby palm trees and cut off branches so they too, could help pave the way for the entering King.
The Roman soldiers stationed there were probably in a tough spot trying to figure out how to contain the crowd which was growing in volume and energy. This could turn into a riot!
While all this was happening someone started the cry, “Hosanna, to the Son of David.” Maybe it even turned into a chant. I’ve heard the definition for the word hosanna, but had forgotten it, so I looked it up. It can mean either please save or save now. The significance of this, is that whether they yelling this because of peer pressure or out of heartfelt adoration, they were acknowledging Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. Their Messiah had come!
Scripture doesn’t say for sure, but the reason I question the authenticity of some of the members of the crowd, is that likely, some of them were part of the mob screaming, “Crucify Him!” shortly afterward–a fairly sad change in attitude. Unfortunately, peer pressure that pushes us into doing good things can just as easily persuade us to do bad things.
I had to think of myself sometimes. It’s pretty easy to get pumped about Jesus when you’re with other people that are in a genuine spirit of worship. Their adoration can rub off on me pretty easily and that’s appropriate. This isn’t a bash on worshipping with others. Corporate worship is great. It’s proper.
But sometimes I worry I can easily mistake the feeling, the atmosphere created by other people, as being something that’s coming from my own heart. It’s pretty easy to conjure up loving feelings toward Jesus when everyone else is feeling them.
What happens to those feelings when there’s a hostile attitude toward Jesus in the air? Or, to be more practical, what happens when my peers and I are thinking about doing something that’s wrong. It’s pretty easy to forget about what Jesus would want me to do when a lot of people want to do what’s wrong and we “Crucify Him” all over again. Those feelings of worship and adoration, that “love,” can suddenly feel pretty insignificant and background, compared to what’s tempting me.
We’re all going to mess up. We have all messed up. It’s part of life. But the only way we can keep that from happening as often is to make sure our personal relationship with Jesus is current. Even though we can get some really great feelings from other people’s experience (church, youth group, etcetera), those experiences, while nice and appropriate, are not likely going to do us much good when we are faced with the things that truly define whether or not we will respond in a Christlike way.
Worship based on peer pressure can look pretty good to the people that see it. It helps us fit in. But it’s not a very practical barometer of how your relationship with Jesus is doing.
Jesus Himself tells us how to do that: John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. This is the evidence of our faith. James tells us that faith without works, isn’t really faith at all. It’s just a mirage of the real thing. Fake. If your love for Jesus isn’t causing you to do good things for Him, you don’t really love Him at all.
Make sure your worship is coming from inside your heart and not from the things you experience when your with other people who are stoked about Jesus. Those types of things should be supplemental to what’s already inside of you, not something on which to base your faith.
This song challenges me to offer authentic worship to Jesus, and not just something that gives me a good feeling when I’m with other Christians. It’s a song of adoration to the the “Highest,” the One who is “Blessed” and came “in the name of the Lord” to save us from ourselves.