INI + AMEN.
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna!” Not, “Alleluia!” No Easter praises today. The crosses are still covered. No “Glory bes.” Just, “Hosanna!” “Save us!”
Salvation: That’s why He’s come. Advent is fulfilled. Today’s reading is the same as the first Sunday in Advent. The prophecy’s fulfilled: “Look, your King is coming to you: gentle and mounted on a donkey.” Adventus: He comes. He comes to save.
They gather round; they cry out, “Save us, now!” “Save us now, Jesus! Save us, YAHWEH who saves.” That’s what Jesus means: YAHWEH saves. “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh!”
(2. What do we want “hosanna” for?)
“Hosanna in the highest!” But why do we “hosanna”? What do we want “hosanna” from? What sort of saving are we looking for Jesus to do?
What about that crowd? What do you make of the crowd and their hosannas? “Sometimes they strew His way And His sweet praising sing; Resounding all the day Hosannas to their King.” (LSB 430:3)
He rides like Solomon, on a donkey. He looks like the heir apparent, the one, true king, the one come to smite the great enemies of His people. It looks like He’s come to conquer the Romans. New King, no Pilate; No Pilate, no Caesar.
But, give ’em a few days. Then it’s all different. “Then “Crucify!” Is all their breath, And for His death They thirst and cry.” (LSB 430:3) That inconsistent crowd is only with Jesus as long as He keeps fulfilling their hopes and dreams. It’s not hard to convince them to turncoat on Jesus. “We have no King but Caesar,” they say.
So now, us. Why do we sing “hosanna?” What salvation are we looking for? Or are we looking for something else that starts with “s”?
Success! That doesn’t mean being rich, or powerful. We want to be successful. Successful parents, teachers, farmers, teammates, students. That’s what we want, and if we don’t see success, well, then.
We get worried. We despair. We doubt. When things don’t get better, we cry out, “Hosanna. Save me from this mess!” And the true problem just becomes the norm.
(1. What does Jesus actually “hosanna” from?)
“Hosanna! Blessed is who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” But from what? Well, there’s only one kind of Hosanna. It’s “hosanna in the highest,” “hosanna to the highest,” “hosanna before the Highest.”
There’s only one sort of salvation that offers universe changing impact, and its the one that avails before the eternal throne of the Father and the Son, because together made the universe.
Oh sure, we’re saved from our sinful deeds, but more importantly, we’re saved from their root and cause. The inborn sin is what makes us strive for success over salvation. We’re turned in on ourselves, and we can’t see it. You can’t see the food caught in your own teeth!
Today, we’re hanging out with the crowd. Later this week we hang out with religious leaders and Pilate, disciples, who don’t get it, and soldiers.
It’s absurd that we think it’s good to be with the crowd, which gets even more absurd when we think, “Well, I’d be faithful unlike that crowd. I wouldn’t call for Jesus’ death.” Yeah, just like Peter said he’d never deny Jesus.
But Jesus hosannas. He saves. That’s why He’s come. He hasn’t come to bring success: to make us successful in our finances, successful at being parents, to give you 10 steps for being all that you can be. He’s no conquering hero like that.
He came to save us from success. He came to deliver to us the forgiveness of sins when we don’t end up actually loving our neighbor as and before ourselves, which is what He actually told us to do.
But He is the conquering hero. He’s greater than Solomon. Yes, that crowd removed those palm branches, but only to, in a way, prepare a tree for Him. He would be cut down. He wouldn’t be untied but bound—bound to Caiaphas, bound to Herod, bound to Pilate, bound (nailed!) to the cross. His clothes will be taken, divvied up, and divided by lot. He would die. That’s the King: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
The point of Palm Sunday isn’t just that Jesus comes to save. The greater point is He comes to save in spite of those He’s trying to save. He goes for the root cause.
JESUS HOSANNAS YOU FROM YOUR SIN.
And now everything is already better. Your sin is atoned for. Jesus hosanned it. He saved you from it. He delivers forgiveness. Pours it on, fills your ears with it, and, according to His Word, you eat and drink it, too.
Everything is better. Whatever saddens you, too. Whatever gives you sighs or tears or anger or fears He instead wants to fill your life, your heart, your soul, and your mind with Himself. He hosannas you.
Jesus promises in Isaiah, “For the mountains will depart, the hills will totter, but My steadfast love will not depart from you, and the covenant of My peace will not totter,’ says Yahweh who has compassion on you.” That’s His hosanna. His hosanna from sin.
He hosannas today. It’s “Body and Blood” day, “given and shed” day, “for the forgiveness of sins” day. It’s hosanna day! He brings us out of our topsy-turvy hosannas, to His true hosanna. His hosanna meal, and so it’s only fitting that we will then surround Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit with true and joyous hosannas!
“Hosanna! Blessed is who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
INI + AMEN.