It’s a word we don’t use often: maybe on Palm Sunday, or perhaps when the worship team chooses one of the hymns or choruses which use the word. Often people wonder what it means. Basically Hosanna is a word of praise that also has the direct meaning: save. When people shouted out Hosanna, they were shouting out “Save!” or “Salvation!”
A form of the word Hosanna is found in Psalm 118 which was used for the Feast of Tabernacles, a time when palm branches were waved in the air. And so, as Jesus, the one who raised Lazarus from the grave, the one whose name was on everyone’s lips, as this Jesus entered the city they took palm branches as they were used to doing 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!” They wanted Jesus to be their king and to lead them to freedom from the Roman occupation. God, however, had a much more beautiful freedom in mind. As Laurin Greco put it, “The people thought they were choosing their king, but God was choosing their Lamb.”
The people had their own expectations of why Jesus was there. They wanted a general, not a Savior. When He didn’t meet that expectation very quickly their cries turned from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him.” People can be very fickle, yet even the crucifixion was in God’s perfect plan.
This Palm Sunday, consider this: God’s ways are higher than ours. He works in ways we don’t expect. May our cries of “Hosanna!” recognize His power and wisdom as He performs His glorious work in the lives of mankind.