Woohooo! We have daffodils! Yes indeed, SPRING is trying desperately to reclaim my yard. The emergence of these bright yellow flowers, amid the muddy mush of a lawn hit hard by long lasting snow piles and rain, gives me hope. I love this time of year.
Palm Sunday is around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I have very vivid images in my head of this particular Sunday. As a young girl I remember being given a palm branch to hold and wave as the story was told in Sunday school. I cannot count the number of times I fashioned palm branches from construction paper as part of a craft during this time of year, first as a child then as a Sunday school teacher myself. Even now Sunday school teachers around the United States are no doubt planning to incorporate this bright green leaf into some aspect of their lesson.
As a Christian this is a very exciting time of celebration and remembrance. It marks the beginning of the end and then the beginning again. Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the end of His earthly ministry. Crowds gathered and laid coats and palms on the ground before Him as He rode past on the back of a donkey.
“…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
In a few days this same crowd would cry out “Crucify Him!”.
In all my years of observing Sunday school posters and Easter plays the scene is always the same…celebratory, exciting and exuberant. According to every visual image I have ever seen of this event, Christ smiles and waves like someone in a parade, perhaps enjoying what He knows to be His final moment of popularity. But now this image has changed for me.
Oddly, though I had heard this story throughout my entire life, it was not until I was well into my twenties that I discovered a small tidbit of information that changed how I forever recall this pivotal event in the life of my Christ.
I had sung “Hosanna” in numerous songs in church and even yelled it out as part of Palm Sunday reenactments for plays…but here is the life impacting tidbit I learned…Hosanna is not a term of praise or glorification, which I think I always believed. Hosanna translates to “save now” or “save us”.
That, my friends, changes everything.
The crowd that gathered that day to greet our Christ and usher Him into their city did not hail Him for WHO He was, but rather for who they hoped He was and what He would do.
Picture the scene now…..The reputation of Jesus went before Him. The streets were filled with people longing for a leader who would come and make everything perfect in their city, their families, and their lives. People who suffered, grieved, ached for someone to rescue them, called out to Him in desparation…each having a personal expectation for how this “Jesus” would help them. “Hosanna!…Save now!”
I cannot fathom the depth of sorrow Christ endured on this day. The voices crying out, “save us, save now…Hosanna!” filling His ears and breaking His heart. With each agonizing step His donkey took past the throng of people the weight of their disparity heaped on His shoulders. With all their expectations as they cried out “Hosanna”, asking to be saved…asking for salvation…they failed to realize the cost of such a request.
As the palm branches are waved, songs are sung and “Hosanna” echoes through our churches, let us remember that the expression of Christ’s love for us did not begin with the weight of the cross…it began with the weight of the cries of Hosanna…the cries of a people in need of salvation…the cry of our hearts today…HOSANNA! HOSANNA! HOSANNA!
We are so short-sighted, we humans. I’m reading through Matthew and wondering “How many times are the disciples going to ask Jesus if he is the Son of God?” What does He have to DO to get through to us? Those people crying Hosanna! are the same people He had healed, the same people He had set free from their demons and sickness and sins. It seems they KNOW they need a Savior, so how do they turn on Him so quickly? How do I???