Friday, April 7, 2017

Hosanna to the Son of David

Jesus has been baptized by John, an event witnessed by heaven and earth.  He was tempted by physical weakness and by Satan himself and emerged victorious ready for his mission to kick into gear.

He has been welcomed, given the cold shoulder, praised, and challenged.  He taught, healed, rebuked, comforted, and rescued a wedding from disaster.  He dined with Pharisees and tax collectors.  He retreated from the crowds into houses and went up mountains to pray and just get away from the crowds so he could be with his Father.  He needed a place to be still.

He has even had his body prepared for burial in advance with some pricy fragrances. The disciples might have thought that such a high-priced perfume might be sold to feed the poor, but they were yet to understand the magnitude of what was to come.

Jesus wept at the loss of his friend Lazarus even though he would bring him back from the dead.  Jesus had told his closest friends that he must die.  They did not want to accept this, but Jesus told them that it must happen.  They must set aside their own expectations for the plan of God.

Jesus walked from place to place as any man would but he was also transfigured into the glory that awaited him.  This took place before three of his disciples.  Elijah and Moses appeared with him.  It was sort of like a final timeout to make sure that everything required by the law and the prophets would be accomplished in these final days.

Jesus still had a few more things to check off his bucket list before he went to the cross.  One of them was to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey—and a young donkey at that.  The logistics for this were already in place. 

Jesus sent two disciples to a specific place to retrieve these animals.  He said that if anyone says anything, just tell them that the Lord needs them.  They returned without incident with a donkey and its colt in tow. Whether this had been arranged sometime over the past three years of roaming the countryside or had ben coordinated at the foundation of the world is not part of the account, but Jesus would ride into Jerusalem just as Zechariah’s prophecy had foretold.

There were coats and cloaks placed on this donkey.  There were coats placed on the road into Jerusalem.  People cut down branches to line the road.  This was a big event.  This was an array of color and commendation set for Jesus.  The King of kings was coming to town.

How did people know to be on this road before Twitter and Facebook?  How did a crowd form when nobody knew how to send a group text?

This was Jerusalem’s King.  This was the King of kings riding into town just as prophesied.  There was no advertising or advanced billing, but the King was coming.

There was excitement in the air.  Some of the crowd went ahead of Jesus.  Some surely just came to the roadside.  Others followed.  Jesus had just healed two blind men, probably in Jericho or at least on the road from Jericho.  These two men followed.

Even when they were blind, they knew who this man was.  They cried out, “Lord, Son of David, help us!”  They could have cried out, “Prophet from Nazareth would you help us?”
They cried out to the Son of David and asked for mercy. 

Jesus replied, “I do all kinds of mercy.  What exactly do you need?”

Now Jesus knew what they needed but we have been given this exchange so we can witness the reverence for Jesus and the confidence in Jesus and the gratitude of two men who given their sight might have had a list of their own—you know, things to do if we ever got our sight—but they decided to follow Jesus.

Jesus was coming and didn’t need tweets or posts to let people know.  There was an excitement building in and around Jerusalem.  Listen to how the gospel writer personified the city.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

blind men knew that Jesus was the Son of David.  The crowds in Jerusalem knew him as a prophet from Galilee.  The Sanhedrin were not impressed by anything that came out of Nazareth or Galilee, but this wasn’t their day.  This day belonged to the man riding the donkey.

The crowds called out to the Son of David.  The people going ahead or following behind Jesus knew that this man was more than a prophet.  This was the long-promised Messiah from the lineage of King David.

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Hosanna is an exclamation of praise and a request for help all wrapped into one.   It’s save us and praise you squeezed into a single word.  It is excitement and expectation bundled together.  The people were asking for salvation with the expectation that the man on the colt could provide it.

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

What a day!  Not everyone knew everything but enough people knew enough to get excited and shout, Hosanna!  They knew enough.

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

In 2017 we know much, much more than those who lined the road to Jerusalem.  We know that this was and is the King of kings.  This man is the Messiah.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  We know the story but do we have the excitement?

Or do we think:

“Oh man, Palm Sunday already—I had better get on the ball and buy some eggs for the kids.”

“Holy Toledo!  It’s almost Easter. I don’t know if I am up to another zero dark thirty worship service.”

“I hope they got most of the stickers out of that field for the Easter Egg Hunt.”

“I am so not ready to sing, Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.  Could any song have a more depressing melody and lyrics?  Can’t we just skip to He Lives, He Lives!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Man, where did the year go?  It’s that time again?”

We need more of “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” and less of time passing us by.  We need to generate some excitement about the celebration that is upon us.

We need to embrace the attitude that goes with these words:  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever would believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

You have heard these words from me every Sunday since the fall of 2011.  Regardless of what the sermon is, we always proclaim the good news.  If you ever hear me just say these words instead of proclaiming them with enthusiasm and joy, then put the search committee together. 

We should be even more excited about shouting Hosanna—save us—to the Son of David because that is exactly what he did.

There is a whole lot that transpired between that first Palm Sunday and the resurrection.  There is a lot to study and learn and apply, but for today, it’s about excitement.  It is about building up to the biggest celebration of our year. 

As you go through this week, do it with the words, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

When you pick up your mail, shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

When you think about something being boring or routine in your life, then proclaim these words:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life!

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

I know that sometimes biblical messages are heavy on the theology and the interpretation of the text and the latest twist on what the Greek or Aramaic might have meant instead of the traditional interpretation.  I know that.  Preacher has to pay the bills, right?  So he throws in a fancy word every now and then so people think that he might have gone to school, but today is about getting worked up for the biggest celebration of the year.

Today is about laying down our coats and palm branches and our selfish desires.  It is for lifting up our spirit for the King of kings is coming to town, and we know that the biggest gift the world has even known is about to bestow life upon the world.

Get ready to celebrate.

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”


No comments:

Post a Comment