We have been journeying Jesus since Ash Wednesday, where we began lent by marking our foreheads with ash, remembering that we are dust and to dust we shall return. We then passed by 5 different people with Jesus on our way to the gates of Jerusalem. We met the tempter in the wilderness, where we saw that Jesus had chosen a new path. We heard the deep questions of Nicodemus by night about faith and meaning. We met with the Samaritan woman at the well in the noon day heat in order to receive the water of life. We got into the mud with blindman and our sight revealed the ongoing blindness of the world around us. We grieved with Mary and Martha at the edge of the valley of the dry bones.
And today, our lenten journey, our lenten wilderness and wanderings have brought us to the gates of Jerusalem shouting Hosanna. We have been calling upon God for deliverance from our oppressors. That word Hosanna, that word which sounds a lot of Hallelujah, like praise the Lord does not mean the same thing.
Hosanna means save now.
Save us now God.
Save us from enemies.
Save us from our sufferings.
Save us from all that threatens us.
And all of a sudden we were no longer passing through the lives of various people on Jesus’ way to Jerusalem. Today we became the ones whom Jesus was encountering. We are the crowds lining the roads singing Hosanna and it is us who Jesus passes by.
The Hosannas we sing today sound like the ones we sing most Sundays,
“Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
We sing Save us Now, and call upon God to come down a meet us.
To meet us in Bread and Wine, to become Body and Blood.
To become our Body and Blood.
To be the Body of Christ that we share in the Lord’s supper.
To become the Body of Christ that we are as the Church.
But today our Hosannas aren’t like our normal Hosannas.
Today our Hosannas, even though they still technically mean “Save Now,” sound a lot more like “Crucify Him.”
In fact, the Hosannas of this day are not prayers pleading for Salvation from our sin and death. They are not confessions that recognizes we are not enough, nor reminders that we need salvation from ourselves.
Rather the Hosannas today are calls for vengeance
Hosanna – Save us now by kicking out the oppressors from our land.
Hosanna – Save us now by destroying our enemies.
Hosanna – Save us now by becoming our righteous warrior king.
Hosanna – Save us now by making us relevant and powerful again.
Hosanna – Save us now by restoring our families and communities and workplaces and churches to their former glory
Hosanna – Save us now by letting us never suffer inconvenience or have think about hard things or be challenged or have to change.
The Hosannas of Palm Sunday are cleverly disguised.
They are disguised shouts of crucify him!
And by Friday they will be revealed for what they truly are.
But despite our vengeance filled Hosannas,
Jesus rides the donkey anyways.
Jesus makes the last move before the cross.
The move that began by coming down the mountain of Transfiguration.
That set the new course in the wilderness of temptation.
That adjusted to meet Nicodemus’s needs
That persisted with the samaritan woman who needed living water.
That came back to fill the blind man with faith.
That allowed the grief of God to bring the dry bones to life.
And that today rides into Jerusalem, even when the Hosannas also mean crucify.
And because Jesus rides the donkey anyways, the disguised Hosannas have another meaning. One that we will soon see.
They will remind us.
That God has come.
That God will saved.
That God has come for us.
That God will save us.