Friday, April 11, 2014



Michael W. Smith

Growing up in a Christian Community, one was invariable exposed to all the traditional Contemporary Christian music scene. I can't remember how many times I had been to a Salvation Army Camp and heard several renditions of "El Shaddai," "Father's Eyes," and "Friends." The last one was written by Michael W. Smith and was sung ad nauseum. I am not putting down Michael W. Smith. However, too much of a good thing is still too much.

One of the songs I really enjoyed was also by Michael W. Smith:  "Hosanna." Of course, I always associate that song with Palm Sunday.

Matthew describes it in this way (Chapter 21, NASB):

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come 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 there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”
10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Prophecy Fulfilled

 Two prophecies are fulfilled in this passage. The first is fulfilled in one of my favorite Old Testament books, Zechariah.  In Zechariah 9:9 the prophet states,

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I love this passage. It shows the humility of the Eternal King, arriving not as we would imagine with pomp and circumstance, but on a colt. An Advent song we sang in Germany, Tochter Zion, uses this text. I always thought it was strange that this be sung in Winter; however, it quickly became one of my favorite Advent songs. I even got my corps in Hanover to sing it on Palm Sunday on a couple of times.

The second prophecy fulfilled was in Psalm 118 (NASB):

25 O Lord, do save, we beseech You;
O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

The people in Jerusalem were shouting this in the streets.

A Play on Words

 At first, glance, one might not understand the play on words going on. It's not like everyone speaks Hebrew, though. Names are important in Hebrew.  The Hebrew root word "to save" is "yasha'."  This might look somewhat familiar. Jesus' name in Hebrew is Yeshua, which means "Yahweh saves." In Psalm 118:25, the Psalmist is saying:  "Hoshiana," which we understand as "Hosanna." It is in an imperative form:  "Save us!" It is not a word of praise, but an imperative word of command. So when the people were greeting Jesus, they were in effect saying, "Jesus (the Lord saves), Hosanna! (Save us!)" For us in The Salvation Army, this play on words would be similar to our "Soup, Soap, and Salvation."

The question I have is:  Did the people of Jerusalem realize what they were doing? The answer is no. I have a feeling that when they were shouting Hosanna, it was more in the style of the Hosanna from the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. They wanted Jesus to free the from tyranny and he came to free them from the tyranny of their sins.

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