Hosanna In the Highest!
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD (Yehovah)! Hosanna in the highest!”Matthew 21:9b
The triumphal entry of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) is one of the events in the life of Christ that is portrayed in all four of the Gospels. This event will be celebrated by Christians around the world today. What is the significance of this event and why is it so important? Lets take a look.
The notes in my study bible describe the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Sunday before the crucifixion as an enacted parable. Jesus was fulling messianic prophecies in specific detail and with intentionality. He was dramatically and publicly proclaiming His messiahship and kingship to Israel. Those who were looking for the Messiah understood what He was doing and their declarations showed they were ready to receive Him as such. Their actions and words further fulfilled these prophecies.
Below is Matthew’s description of this event. It is also found in Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19.
”Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ”The Lord has need of them,” and immediately he will send them.’ All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying: ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’ So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ’Hosanna to the Son of David! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” Hosanna in the highest!’”Matthew 21:1-9
When Jesus told two of His disciples to go into the village and get a donkey and her colt, He was fulfilling an important Messianic prophecy from the prophet Zechariah.
“‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”Zechariah 9:9
Why a donkey and not a horse? In the ancient Middle East, kings rode to war on horses, and on donkeys if they came in peace. Jesus was not coming as the conquering King at this time, but to bring peace with God. It is interesting to note that when He comes again, according to Revelation 19:11, He will be riding on a white horse to judge in righteousness and make war against His enemies.
The young donkey had never been ridden and the disciples laid their clothes on its back and set Jesus on him. Then the people laid their clothes or palm branches on the road. By providing a carpet for Him to ride on, they were paying homage to Jesus as their King.
The words they shout next indicate that they understood that He was fulfilling Zechariah 9 by riding on the donkey. That prophecy said He is just and has salvation. So, they begin shouting these words from Psalm 118–
“Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.”Psalm 118:25-26 ESV
The Hebrew words for ”save us, we pray” or ”save us, now” are transliterated as hoshia-na. Hosanna is the Greek form of this Hebrew phrase.
The crowds who were shouting the words of this messianic psalm were not just rejoicing in this triumphal moment as they publicly acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah, but they were also pleading to Him to deliver them from the oppression of the Roman government. While we cannot be absolutely certain about this, it is likely that some of the people in that crowd joyfully shouting praises as they paid homage to Jesus as their King would within days be angrily crying out, ”Crucify Him!” when they realized that He was not going to conquer the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom. His true disciples received His salvation from their sins. I often wonder which side I would have been on if I had been a part of that throng in Jerusalem that day.
From our vantage point today, 2000 years later, and with the entirety of Scripture to guide us, we can look back at this event and understand how Jesus so perfectly fulfilled the prophecies of His coming as Savior of the world through His birth and ministry, and His death, burial, and resurrection. We also look forward in anticipation of the time when He will come again—this time as the conquering King who will ride in on His white horse and defeat all His enemies and reign as KING of kings and LORD of lords!
Amen! Hallelujah! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
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All Scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.