We read on Palm Sunday that during the Triumphal Entry, the people cried out to Jesus, “Hosana!” We see this same thing take place after Jesus cleanses the temple of the evil taking place in the temple courts.
Two different events in two different locations result in the same praise from the people.
Hosanna means “to save, rescue” or “savior.”
As Jesus enters into the Roman city on a lowly donkey, the people recognize him as savior and rescuer. The Romans were allowed to recognize only one rescuer and that was Caesar who would ride into town on a warhorse. Yet, the people recognize the peaceful, donkey riding Jesus as the rescuer.
After Jesus flips tables and drives people out of the temple, the people again recognize him as savior and rescuer. The sick and vulnerable come to him in confidence. In the temple, the Law of Moses and the temple sacrifices were the rescuer and savior. Yet, the people recognize Jesus as the true savior.
Both of these stories reveal that God is up to something new. God is establishing a new Kingdom and a new reality. The way empires rule is not the way God rules. The way the Law could be distorted and perverted for profit is not the way of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus riding the donkey and accepting adulation in the temple are both nothing short of a protests. They were protests against systems and structures that marginalized and oppressed people. They were protests against systemic and personal sin. They were protests against the ways the world organizes itself. In a world in which warhorses and profits attempt to rule, Jesus rides in on a donkey and offers forgiveness and transformation through grace.
Jesus is the one true king that all others kings submit to. He is the one true temple that all other temples serve as merely a signpost.
To declare Jesus is Lord, to cry out “Hosanna!” is still an act of protest today. The church is always at protest against the sins that enslave individuals. Jesus’ lordship cleanses sin and transforms us into the righteousness of God.
It is also a protest against the structures and systems of our world that seek to usurp the authority of Jesus. All political kingdoms and all religious systems that enslave and harm people are counterfeits. There is only one Lord who reigns over the one true Kingdom.
Jesus is Lord and he comes not wielding a sword but bearing a cross. He comes not charging for a sacrifice but as the sacrificial lamb laying down his life for all people.
May we submit to this protest by allowing our hearts to be cleansed of all unrighteousness. And may we join in this protest by living as followers of King Jesus as he liberates all people from the systems and sin that seek to enslave us.