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Readings

Reading: Matthew 21:8-11

Supplementary Reading: Psalm 118

Devotional

As Jesus, the most important figure in history, enters one of the greatest cities of the first century at the start of the most pivotal week in history, we find branches being cut from trees. Palm branches, considered a sign of victory and triumph at the time, were strewn across Jesus’ path. Both hands and voices are raised in exuberant tumultuous praise welcoming this king riding a donkey in manifest humility. We will find as Holy Week progresses the divine king will stoop yet lower in meekness till reaching the ignominy of a public execution. Yet as he enters Jerusalem this humble servant king is greeted with loud shouts of ‘Hosanna’. Here is a little Greek and Hebrew lesson from Pastor John Piper to help us understand what is going on here:

‘We know the New Testament was first written in Greek, and the Old Testament was first written in Hebrew. Wherever the word “hosanna” occurs in the New Testament, do you know what the Greek word is? Right! It’s “hosanna.” All the English translators did was use English letters (h-o-s-a-n-n-a) to make the sound of a Greek word.’

‘But if you look in a Greek dictionary to find what it means, you know what you find? You find that it is really not originally a Greek word after all. The men who wrote the New Testament in Greek did the same thing to a Hebrew word that our English translators did to the Greek word: they just used Greek letters to make the sound of a Hebrew phrase. I know this sounds sort of complicated. But it’s really not. Our English word “hosanna” comes from a Greek word “hosanna” which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na.’

‘That Hebrew phrase is found one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, “Save, please!” It is a cry to God for help. Like when somebody pushes you off the diving board before you can swim and you come up hollering: “Help, save me . . . Hoshiya na!”’

 ‘But something happened to that phrase, hoshiya na. The meaning changed over the years. In the psalm it was immediately followed by the exclamation: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The cry for help, hoshiya na, was answered almost before it came out of the psalmist’s mouth. And over the centuries the phrase hoshiya na stopped being a cry for help in the ordinary language of the Jews. Instead, it became a shout of hope and exultation. It used to mean, “Save, please!” But gradually, it came to mean, “Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!” It is the bubbling over of a heart that sees hope and joy and salvation on the way and can’t keep it in.’

Today let us join our voices with innumerable others around the world and those in the highest heaven, shouting, Hosanna, Hooray for salvation! It’s coming! It’s here! Salvation! Salvation!”

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” – The Apostle Paul, c. A.D. 55/56, in 2 Corinthians 2:14

Prayer

Glorious Father, I thank You for Your unconditional relentless love that pursued me even when I was unaware. Thank You for showing me just how great Your love is by sending Christ to die for me while I was still a sinner. Lord God, I thank You for the precious gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Your majestic Name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens! I will praise Your Name forever and ever. I will shout at the top of my voice, Hosanna. Hooray for salvation! It’s coming! It’s here! Salvation! Salvation!

Based on today's reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?

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