Where Do We Direct Our Hosanna Cries?

Text: Matthew 21:1-11

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Hosanna – it is an ancient Hebrew word that means save or help. It is the word that the crowds screamed out at Jesus that Palm Sunday long ago. 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

Indeed, they were not only using the word Hosanna to cry out for safety, help, and deliverance, but they were also ascribing the ability to save, help, and deliver to Jesus. In other words, it was a shout that indicated that Jesus was One who had the ability to save, help, and deliver. Think of it as a cheer at a sporting event, where the crowd yells out attributes towards a certain athlete,  

“He’s the champ! He’s the gunslinger! He’s the master! Look, the Colossus of Clout. He is a beast! He is a rocket!” 

Today, even though we do not typically use the word Hosanna, well… we still cry it out. We still apply it to various people and things. 

For example, in the realm of politics, it is easy to see crowds crying out “Hosanna” to certain politicians. Again, people don’t use the word Hosanna specifically, but nonetheless, they look to certain politicians to save, help, and deliver them.  

Rewind the clock just a bit and consider all the various Donald Trump and Barack Obama Rallies. Regardless of your political affiliation, we must be honest and admit that many of those rallies were times when politicians entered not into Jerusalem but into the campaign trail, where they were met with the hosannas of their constituents. And instead of laying down palm branches at these politicians’ feet, well… thousands of people religiously laid down their blank checks before politicians who they believed would save, help, and deliver them from an alternative political party.  

“Hosanna to Obama and Trump.  Blessed are you, O executive orders and veto power, that save and help me.”

But maybe you and I are not so quick to shout out our hosannas to politicians. And so, what about other things? 

It seems like there are endless possibilities for you and me. For some of you, you may cry out your hosannas to the stock market. 

“Hosanna to the Dow Jones. Blessed are you, O capital gains and dividends, that save and help me!”  

Over the last several years, many of us shouted hosannas towards the medical community during the effects of Covid-19.

“Hosanna to Dr. Fauci and the CDC. Blessed are you, O lockdowns and vaccine mandates, that save and help me!” 

If it isn’t the stock market or the medical community, well, we surely praise and acclaim the government. 

“Hosanna to the Federal Government. Blessed are you, O tax credits and stimulus payments, that save and help me!” 

In the church, though, we aren’t any better off. Let’s be honest. Unfortunately, we often direct our hosannas to the wrong place as well.  

“Hosanna to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Blessed are you, O bylaws and policies, that save and help me!”

Now, we could obviously go on and on and on. We certainly could. But truth be told, we would be here all afternoon. And the reason why we could be here all afternoon - we so easily direct our hosanna acclamations, prayers, and praise to anything and everything that we think that will save and help us. Seriously consider this for a moment! Who do your hosannas belong to? Where do you direct your hosanna cries? Who do you hope will save you? Lord have mercy on us.  

As we consider our reading from the Gospel of Matthew this morning, it would seem that the two crowds got it right. Unlike you and me, they shouted their hosannas towards Jesus. This is very good. However, it is only partially good. Yes, they cried out to Jesus, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  However, what did the crowd want to be saved from?  Yes, what did they want Jesus to save them from?

Dear friends, we Christians can rightly cry out Hosanna towards Jesus. But then we are left with the question, what do we want to be saved from? What do we want help with?  

You see, a good portion of the crowds most likely thought of Jesus in Messianic terms. They wanted a Messiah to be a Messiah of power and to put all things right for them in their society and world. But a suffering, dying, and rising from the dead kind of Messiah? This kind of Messiah they did not expect or cry out for. Simply stated, their hosanna cry did not anticipate a suffering and dying Savior for the sins of the world. Their hosanna cries were properly applied to Jesus but not a bleeding Jesus and not a Jesus saving them from their sin.

But before we go any further, are we really saying today that we should not ask for help? No, we are not. You see, the word Hosanna is not only a word that means save or help, but it is a word that invokes a divine blessing. It is a word that gives praise and adoration to the Messiah. It is a word that is used exclusively for Christ and not for anyone else.  And so, while there is nothing wrong with pleading for help from various people and various entities in this life, we must remember that they certainly should not be recipients of our hosanna cries. They are not the Messiah. Whether it be Trump, Obama, Fauci, the State, the Stock Market, or even the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, we must remember that none of them deserve our hosanna cries, for none of them bleed like Jesus.

And get this, even though everyone’s  hosannas are misplaced and even though the church often wants to be saved from silly things such as bad habits or uncomfortable circumstances and not the more serious issues of death and sin - the fact still remains that Jesus still came to the cross to bleed and die. He came to be the Hosanna – the One who comes in the name of the Lord for forgiveness, life, and salvation.  

Dear friends, hear this!  Despite our misguided and misinformed hosannas, Jesus still came to the cross, nonetheless, for you. He came to save you not from bad habits, bad dating, or a thousand other silly things that we get so consumed with. But He came that Palm Sunday – and He comes to you this Palm Sunday, for the very purpose of saving you from sin, delivering you from the jaws of death, and being the One helper that stomps on the devil’s head – all for you.  

He does this so that our misguided and misinformed hosanna cries may be forgiven and made holy.  That is right; he forgive you and me and sanctifies our hosanna cries rightly towards Him.  And so, today we know by faith that He is the only Messiah that is worthy of our praise and hosanna cry.  He is the only one sufficient to bleed, die, and rise for you and me. 

So right now, as His baptized and forgiven Saints, we say by faith, 

 “Hosanna to Christ Jesus.  Blessed are You, O Son of David, for saving us from sin, death, and the devil.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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