Illuminate Pt. 3 Hosanna?
In the Christian religion, we have a few universal words. With only slight annunciation variations, you can recognize them in any culture. From my experience so far, there’s “Jesus”, “Hallelujah”, “Amen”, and “Hosanna.”
As an English speaking westerner, you grow up assuming they are originally English words. After realizing there’s a world that exists, and in fact existed for most of human history outside of the English language, you need to dig a bit deeper to understand their roots than defined in Websters Dictionary.
Hosanna! It’s usually exclaimed. It’s found most commonly in songs, hymns. It shows up around Easter or the Passover. If you were to transport yourself on a Sunday morning to a worship service in Canada, then to Ukraine, hop over to Mexico and finish in Finland, it’s quite possible the only word you’d be able to join them in would be “Hosanna”. Your ears would perk up, and you’d think “Yes! I know that one!”
The reason for the continuity, at least in the pronunciation of it, is that it’s actually a Hebrew phrase (hoshiya na), translated into Greek as Hosanna (ὡσαννά). Each language has then generally maintained the ‘sound’ of this word, using their own phonetic spelling.
When pronounced, they all sound the same!
We have this universal word, but I wonder if most, like myself, have spent most of my Christian journey oblivious to it’s powerful meaning? The most common use, at least in English, is in Praise, but it’s much deeper than a general exalted praise of the Creator.
The Hebrew phase is actually used once in the entire Old Testament. Doesn’t that make it even more interesting? You’d think perhaps it would be a something frequently throughout the O.T. to gain such universal stature. Nope. One tiny little reference.
“O Lord, do save, we beseech Thee;”
Psalm 118:25 (Russian 117:25)
Do save. Most literally, “Save now!” (hoshiya na).
There’s something so fundamental about this, so simple, we might miss it. Give me your mind for a minute, I promise there is a feast for your soul if you can catch the beauty in this.
The history of the Jews was one of waiting and trusting God for deliverance. Waiting for the promises given to Abraham, that through his offspring, ‘all nations on earth will be blessed.’ (Gen 22:18).
This waiting was fraught with challenges, war and even captivity. As they clung to their observances, as their hope waned in the grip of suffering, a cry arose from the soul of the people. This cry was heard echoing from prophets, psalmists and kings.
The cry for salvation, for rescue, comes from an awakening realization of deep, desperate need.
The people were holding out for their coming rescuer, their Messiah. He would settle accounts with the wicked nations, restore all that was lost, and faithfully fulfill all of what God had promised. This prayer for salvation came in many other words and phrases, but it was this particular, once used phrase, that was imported emphatically, and even prophetically into the Gospels account in the final Passover.
You may recall the scene. Jesus, knowing it was His final hour, comes one last time into Jerusalem, riding on a colt.
“And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
The people recognized their hope was in fact found in Christ. He was the Messiah, and while they may not have fully grasped the nature of His Kingdom yet, their deep cry for a Savior was finding resolve in Christ.
Hosanna is much more than a universal singable praise anthem. It’s a universal exclamation that Christ was, and continues to be God’s answer to humanities plight, our separation from our Maker.
As the enemy wreaks havoc on our souls and humanity lies in the prison of this separation, there’s an ancient melody echoing in the distance. The cry of salvation, for help, for deliverance is being sung. Can you hear it?
The Gospel is incredible news: The dirge has become celebratory praise. The cry heard, the promise fulfilled, the King and His Kingdom has saved us!
The next time you sing the words Hosanna, think about the condition your heart has been in without Christ. Perhaps even now you feel alone in defeat. We need to need. We often think that we must ignore the desperate cries in our soul, suppressing them into a faux happiness as if to convince ourselves we are ‘un-needy.’
Don’t do that. We come to God through Christ, we are freed from sin through Christ, our hope is in Christ. Salvation has come in Christ.
He is near the broken, comes quickly to the naked, blind and sick. The contrite heart He does not despise (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 51:17).
The moment we come to God in worship, we must enter through the door of Christ. Every song, every prayer, every gathering around God’s Word should be careful to not stray from the very reason we can sing, pray and gather in the first place!
Like the gathered Jewish crowd waving their palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna”, we who have tasted of the riches of His grace also declare the Savior of the world is still saving! We are testimonies and even trophies of His grace (Eph 2:7).
We have been delivered through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Salvation is Person and He is worthy of our praise.
Hosanna in the Highest!