Lord, save us!… Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. (Psalm 118:25-26 NIV)
‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Mark 11:9 NIV)
Hosanna. We have heard this word many times during Palm Sunday worship gatherings. What does it mean? To explain the meaning of the word “Hosanna”, I have placed the original verse of Psalm 118:25 next to Mark’s rendering of it by the people of Jerusalem as Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem (Mark 11:9). This is the very essence of Palm Sunday itself. The people recognize Jesus as king and they greet him. However, the king on a donkey is a contradiction in terms. Should the king not be riding a stallion? How can the people truly receive a king in this manner?
The only explanation for us is that Jesus is a king with a difference. He is not a king who rules by military might or physical strength. The lowly donkey leads to a wooden cross. Jesus is a king who models values that are contrary to accepted human norms.
Why does he do this? Let us go to the original meaning of the word “Hosanna”. As we look at Psalm 118:25 above, we see the meaning of the word “Hosanna”. “Hosanna” means “Lord, save us!” The crowds at Jerusalem of Palm Sunday do not fully understand the meaning of the Hosannas they shout when Jesus passes on the donkey. Yet they have captured the symbolic meaning of the lowly donkey. This king on a donkey has come to save them. They acknowledge this. They cry, “Lord, save us!”
May we this Palm Sunday sing our Hosannas to the king on the donkey.