When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Hosanna is a word with which we are familiar. We hear it in this Gospel passage and others about our Lord’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We proclaim it with the Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven in the Sanctus at each celebration of Holy Eucharist. It is an acclamation of praise, but it is also more. The Hebrew word from which it derives literally means “save us, please”. It is a shout of joy, but at its heart, it is also a plea for salvation - a cry for deliverance. This makes it a very apt word for our meditation during this Advent season. Just like the crowds lining the road that day into the holy city, we too are awaiting the coming of our King - the one who is to deliver us. We are preparing to once again celebrate his coming among us in his Incarnation at Christmas. But more than that we also prepare to receive him as he comes to us in Word and Sacrament when we gather to worship, as well as his return to judge both “the quick and the dead” at the end of time. Hosanna, Lord, Hosanna! Save us from the sin that binds us. Save us from all that holds us back from you. Save us, today and always, Lord, that we may be prepared to welcome you totally and completely into our hearts. Hosanna!
The Rev'd Chas Marks,
St. Augustine's Church, Kansas City, MO