Mark 11:9 “As Jesus approached Jerusalem, those who went before Him, and those who followed after Him, were crying out, ‘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.'”
The word hosanna intrigues me.
Growing up, I assumed (in the absence of any explanation), that hosanna was a variation of the somewhat similar word hallelujah. Okay, at least they both start with an “h” (in English). But hosanna is different. Hallelujah declares “praise the Lord” while hosanna cries out “Save me!”
It must have irked the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem as Jesus approached the city. Those religious and civic leaders had worked hard to cultivate a tolerable co-existence with the Roman occupiers. They had established a fragile and vulnerable peace, at best. This was certainly no time for an uneducated (albeit popular) peasant teacher from Galilee to ride into the city openly declaring a revolution. The crowds crying Hosanna, if correctly understood by the Romans, could ruin everything.
The palm branches and the adulation was akin to saying, “At last! The King is here! Let’s do this!!” No wonder, then, that the trajectory of Jesus’ ministry took a turn at this point.
Periodically, I think of that crowd. Desperate for deliverance, disillusioned by their dire circumstances, they sought a different destiny. I’ve had times like that, too; a mind racing to dark places, a heart stressed by events, circumstances that seem insurmountable. We’ve all been there. And for those moments — for people like us — hosanna says it all.
In those moments when the pain threatens to overwhelm us — hosanna.
In those times when fear looms large — hosanna.
In those circumstances when we feel most helpless — hosanna.
When words won’t come and prayer seems almost impossible — hosanna.
“Hosanna in the highest,” the crowd cried. They declared that salvation, true salvation, comes from God alone. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, educated enough, or resourced enough to save myself. “Hosanna in the highest.”
Today, perhaps this breath prayer is for yourself: “Hosanna! Save me!” Or perhaps we could pray it for those we know who feel buried by suffering or who face a daunting mountain. “Hosanna. God. Save.”
It’s an ancient cry and Christ never tires of hearing it.