Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 23, 2013


Hosanna!  This is a day of celebration! … or is it?  “Hosanna!”  It was the loud cry of praise from the overwhelming and jubilant crowd … or was it?  Let’s set the scene …

The city of Jerusalem was packed to overflowing as pilgrims from far and wide descended on the city to celebrate the feast of the Passover.  It was the central Jewish festival, and it had become big business.  Jerusalem was in full festival mode.  A sea of people navigated the narrow streets of the city, eating, talking, buying and selling.  Think host city of the Final Four on championship weekend.

A buzz began circulating in the city streets.  “The Messiah is headed this way!  Rumor is, he is just outside the city.  We must go quickly to the gate to meet him.  We must find a place on the route he is likely to take.”  Thousands, likely hundreds of thousands, of people began rushing to find a place where they could see him.  He was coming!  They had heard of him, maybe they had been in the crowd when thousands were fed, or one was healed.  They broke off palm branches and rushed to find a place to see him.  The emotion in the crowd swells and as Jesus enters the city, they begin to cry “Hosanna!” in unison, and their cries are deafening.

Somehow, after years and years of Sunday School lessons and Palm Sunday services, I had managed to see this only as a boisterous and joyous scene.  The cries of “Hosanna!” translated “Yeah, Jesus!”  But why the palm branches, and what is the literal translation of the word hosanna?  It was not until a few years ago, as I began to seriously focus on the final week of Jesus in my personal observance of Lent, that my eyes were truly opened to the truth and translation of this symbol and word. Things that now seemed so obvious had me wondering how I missed them for so long.

This was not an expectant crowd excited to see their leader, shouting “Yeah, Jesus!” and laying down leaves of a regionally appropriate plant to honor him.  No, this was a desperate crowd crying out to be delivered from Roman oppression, shouting “Save Us!, please Save us!” and intentionally choosing an obvious symbol of how they expected this savior to deliver them … by military victory.  This was not a groundswell of praise; this was a passionate plea.  This was a not an expectant crowd; this was one full of expectation.

There’s a temptation in knowing what is about to happen, projecting it forward and tying it together with future events for some grander application.  But for today, let’s stand shoulder to shoulder with the crowds who lined the streets.  Let’s smell the air, observe the faces, and truly hear the cries.  It is easy for us to judge the people on the pages of Scripture, but aren’t they also us?  Easy to judge those of “little faith” who cried out for a military hero to drive the Romans out and setup a sovereign and sacred state of peace and autonomy, but aren’t they also us?  Easy to judge those who valued strength and dismissed and rejected a King and kingdom whose cornerstone is humility, service and those who are outside the margins, but aren’t they also us?  “Save us, please Save us, and we have it all figured out as to how!” … isn’t that also us?

Oh, how I long to be one of those that Jesus healed along the road.  To be one of those in the crowds who were fed or saw him reach into the heart and life of one single soul and forever change it.  To have been healed, fed or saw and then left everything to follow him.  But who am I?  I fear I am more often one that is crying out along the parade route.

For today, let’s stand shoulder to shoulder with the crowds who lined the streets.  Let’s smell, observe and hear.  And then, let’s look into the face of Jesus riding on the back of a young donkey and ask … who am I, and who do I say you are?



  1. While I may not have been one who physically interacted with Him, I feel truly blessed to interact with him spiritually throughout each day and find myself truly blessed, protected and cared for. I’m amazed at his goodmess to me each day, being so undeserving.

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