Hosanna — Prayer or Praise?

Yeah, I know. I’ve been slacking on my blogging. Rather than give a bunch of excuses, I’ll simply plead recovery and time with my kids and be done with it ūüėČ

Well, today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Today in Jesus’ life, He had entered Jerusalem following the Sabbath, setting up the final days of His earthly ministry. He entered as prophecy had declared, riding on the colt of a donkey, and this didn’t escape the notice of the people of Jerusalem — both Jesus’ supporters and His detractors — and He entered to shouts of “Hosanna!”

A lot has been said about “hosanna” being a praise akin to hurray or huzzah or yippee, but it didn’t start off that way. The word is Hebrew, and comes from two words that mean “save/savior” and “to beg” — literally “please save us”. Now, that’s a far cry from a shouted praise, but there IS a way where it can be both.

Consider that Jesus was thought to be a messiah… though not the messiah we know Him to be. There were Jews that thought Jesus would be a messiah on the order of Moses or David or Judah Maccabee or even Alexander the Great — a military leader who would free the Jews from their oppression under Rome. Crying “Hosanna”, they were praising Jesus — shouting “hurray” at His arrival —¬†but it can be argued that they were also entreating Him to save them, as if to say “Please be the One we’ve been waiting for.”

John the Baptist, just days before his execution, asked much the same question of Jesus — “Are you He, or do we wait for another?” Jesus’ answer to him was very similar to how He answered (by His crucifixion) the Jewish cry of hosanna. He¬†had come to save them, but not necessarily in the way they had expected.

John was prepared to accept that reality. The Jews were not. When Jesus did not satisfy their expectations, their shouts of praise — and petitions¬†of “Please be the One” —¬†turned to demands for His crucifixion, revealing their praise for what it was: focused primarily on their own benefit, without regard for¬†God’s ultimate glory.

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