When the Passover crowds around Jerusalem shouted Hosanna to Jesus, they were a people in desperate need of salvation. They were helpless under the thumb of Rome. Think about how vast the powerful Rome was. There was no human power that could throw them off at that point in history. Israel certainly wasn’t strong enough to break free, and no other army would ever come to their aid, let alone one with the might and manpower to defeat the mega power of Rome.
Israel’s one hope was God. They had His promise of a Savior who would come, defeat their enemies and reign, establishing Israel as the power. They had a history with this God who had delivered them from human domination before with His mighty arm and outstretched hand, rescuing them from the mega power of Egypt. They knew He could cause plagues and part the sea; in fact they were assembled in Jerusalem to commemorate that very event, so such expectations were running high.
When we are overwhelmed by the odds against us, whatever they may be, when prospects are slim and hard to come by, the glimmer of hope that someone might come to rescue us gives us a thrill like no other. That was what the people were feeling that day when they cried out Hosanna! It means something on the order of “Save now,” “Save, I pray thee,” or “Deliver, save.” This was shouted out in a fervent combination of desperation and expectancy.
The thing was, Israel had no real idea of exactly how dire their peril was. They were focused on the enemy they could see, but didn’t realize there was an enemy far worse than Rome. Rome was making their earthly life miserable, but their eternal lives were the ones which most needed rescuing. They weren’t even aware of the salvation they really needed. The deliverance sent to them was one that would conquer sin and death, but they had no understanding that they even had that need.
How like us. We are quick to call out for God’s deliverance when we feel some earthly oppression, but we are often oblivious to our real need, our eternal need. We are slow to realize how desperately we need deliverance from our spiritual task masters and oppression. Our prayers of “save” and “deliver” are too often temporally focused when we should be praying: “Save me from my prideful attitudes”; “Deliver me from my worldliness”; “Overthrow my apathy”; “Defeat my selfish, self-serving ways”; “Vanquish my focus on the things that pass away…” These are Hosannas we should be shouting with desperation and hope, acknowledging our predicament and yet realizing the One upon whom we are calling has the desire and power to deliver and save.
Most of us singing this song and reading this article have already been delivered from eternal peril. Often we don’t realize how much danger we were in, how atrocious our personal sinfulness, and how awesome our salvation really is. If we did (and when we finally do) our Hosannas will reach the fervent pitch of the shouts around Jerusalem that day. But Christ’s awesome salvation goes well beyond the vital eternal redemption which brings us into His kingdom. He promises us not only eternal life, but abundant life. Many of us settle for so much less than that because we have failed to realize that we need to continue to cry out Hosannas—save and deliver from things such as listed above—for deliverance from those enemies that rob us of the abundance He has purposed for us, and without which we cannot impact the world the way He intended.
We are like Israel when they came out of the desert wanderings. God has brought us into the Promised Land through our salvation. It is ours permanently. But there are still enemies to defeat, so we can live in peace and joy—live the abundant life. Some of these enemies are dug in and not eager to be removed, so our battles may be fierce. We need His power to unseat them, to deal ruthlessly with them, or they will be thorns in our side and lures away from total devotion to the Lord.
Let us look to Christ, our Deliverer, and sing this song with the desperation of people who realize their plight, but also realize the One to whom they cry out urgently is willing, mighty, and eager to come to our aid. He has saved us for all eternity, and now stands ready to help us experience daily the joy, love, peace, presence, power—all those benefits which flow from Him. For this He is, indeed, worthy of all our praises and trust. Hosanna!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministry
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