“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” John 12:12-13
“Fronds” are palm branches that emerge from the crown of the palm tree, an adornment of sorts. I wonder if the crowd that day understood the symbolism. Perhaps. Palm branches have traditionally represented victory since the Israelites’ rescue from the slavery of ancient Egypt. The Lord commanded they celebrate with the Feast of Tabernacles with palm branches.
“On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees —and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” Leviticus 23:40
They shouted, “Hosanna!” which in Aramaic meant “Savior” and laid victory branches before Him. They repeated the chant when Jesus cleared the temple as if to say, “Finally! our Savior has come!” The shouts were of praise but political as well as the people now have a champion who would save them from the harsh rule of Roman soldiers and the religious elite. Little did they know how right they were.
In Hebrew and Greek, “Hosanna” meant “help us” or “please save us”, not only proclaiming that Jesus has the power to save, but also a cry for saving. The rulers of that time needed to kill Jesus to remove the threat to their authority. In modern times, we have many who are making decisions, supposedly on our behalf, trying to do the same, seeing Jesus as a threat to their authority. This is when “Hosanna” is needed most.
When we gather on Palm Sunday, waving palm fronds singing “Hosanna in the Highest,” keep in mind that it is prayer, praise and petition, cries for help and shouts of victory, whether realized or yet to come. Welcome Jesus’ triumphant entry with open hearts waving fronds of praise for all He has done and the victory He has won, not just one Sunday morning in the springtime, but all the time.