Hosanna: Expectation and Reality

Have you ever noticed that what we expect and what Jesus offers is often at odds? Part of the human condition is the desire to have things our way. That God should meet our needs according to our priority and in the way we think is best. The crowd that followed and met Jesus when he humbly rode into Jerusalem on what is now called Palm Sunday had the same problem.

The crowd’s expectation was that Jesus was coming as a king or Messiah in order to restore Israel to its former glory. The crowd desired Jesus to seize control, kick out the Romans, and establish a powerful earthly Kingdom surpassing that of Solomon. But the crowd didn’t understand. They didn’t see that God had a bigger plan which far surpassed their puny thoughts of glory. Instead of riding in as a king, Jesus purpose was sacrifice and salvation. Instead of re-establishing Israel’s limited glory, Jesus’ vision was a kingdom without borders. Even their shouts of Hosanna betrayed the tension between expectation and reality. Shouted in the context of praise “Hosanna in the highest” the original meaning of Hosanna is a prayer to “save us” or “help us”.  Their shouts of praise were closer to the mark than they realized.  (The story of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem can be read in Matthew 21:1-17,  Mark 11:1-10,  Luke 19:29-38,  John 12:12-19).

The crowd that day aren’t the only ones with this problem. We often expect Jesus to ride into our lives and fix our world. To change that one relative that manages to offend everyone. To give us a better job with less work, stress, and challenges but with greater pay and benefits. To beat up the bullies we face. To repair our messes, mistakes, and failures. And to do all of these things according to our timeline, our priority, and our ‘perfect” understanding of the best solution. Instead, Jesus enters our lives as a Savior, Redeemer, King, and Lord intent on saving us from ourselves and changing us according to His own plan and purpose. I wonder if He weeps over our stubborn pride like He did over Jerusalem on that day (Luke 19:41-44). We must instead step off our throne so the King of Kings can establish and extend His kingdom in our lives.

Dale Heinold
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