It’s a Palm Sunday tradition.
On Palm Sunday, the word “Hosanna” appears in songs and readings, and the pastor generally mentions it at some point. But why is it important?
Is “Hosanna” just something we say and sing on Palm Sunday out of tradition? Or does it mean something greater? Can it mean something greater? Can it have a greater significance for those of us who claim to be Christians?
This morning, when we cry out, “Hosanna!” there’s 4 points of understanding that can help bring about a greater significance for this word. Here’s 4 points to understand before singing, “Hosanna!”
1. “Hosanna!” is centred around an important Biblical event.
Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, while crowds of people lift up praises of “Hosanna!” They lay down their cloaks and palm branches before the King of Kings.
“8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!'” (Matthew 12:8-9)
“8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!'” (Mark 11:8-10)
“12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)
2. “Hosanna!” points to a fulfilment of prophecy.
Two of the above accounts give reference to a prophecy that was being fulfilled.
“4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”’” (Matthew 21:4-5)
“14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!'” (John 12:14-15)
This prophecy can be found in Zechariah 9 and therefore, is very much a part of Palm Sunday and the word, “Hosanna!”
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
3. “Hosanna!” holds a deeper meaning, found in Jewish history.
The word “Hosanna” or “save, we pray” carries a double meaning in Scripture. Hosanna is “Aramaic and Hebrew, originally a cry for help…” transitioning over time to, “…hosanna!, a cry of happiness.” (Strong’s Concordance)
At DesiringGod.org, John Piper explains this history really well.
“Our English word ‘hosanna’ comes from a Greek word ‘hosanna’ which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na. And that Hebrew phrase is found one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, ‘Save, please!’ It is a cry to God for help.”
“But something happened to that phrase, hoshiya na. The meaning changed over the years…And over the centuries the phrase hoshiya na stopped being a cry for help in the ordinary language of the Jews. Instead it became a shout of hope and exultation. It used to mean, ‘Save, please!’ But gradually, it came to mean, ‘Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!'” (www.desiringgod.org/messages/hosanna)
4. “Hosanna!” is an earthly praise, that holds eternal significance.
In John 12 we see that even Jesus’ disciples didn’t fully comprehend what was taking place in that moment of celebration.
“His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” (John 12:16)
The crowd and the disciples in the moment, were focused on an earthly kingdom, where Jesus would be a political or military king. But that wasn’t the plan!
Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals the truth of His Kingdom:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
This Palm Sunday:
For those of us who given our lives to Jesus Christ and know the eternal salvation that comes with knowing the Saviour, may we cry out “Hosanna!” with confidence.
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
In your opinion, why is Palm Sunday and important event for the church to recognise?