Confusing Terminology

Life Notes—April 14, 2011

“The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”  Matthew 21:9 

As Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem on what was to be the final week of his life on earth, crowds welcomed him, waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!”  The term hosanna is translated as “save us.”  It was originally an appeal to God for deliverance and was also used as a term of praise or adoration.  Old Testament scriptures wrote that a Savior would come to deliver God’s people from bondage.  This Savior, or Messiah, would be their King.  The Jewish people had long expected the coming of their Messiah, and the celebrating was surely intense with his triumphant arrival into Jerusalem. 

However, the coming of this long-awaited King was not greeted enthusiastically by all.  For the Romans, a new “King” posed a serious threat to their governing authority.  For the Jewish leaders, the coming of the Messiah was a threat to their spiritual authority.  This Jesus-of-the-nothing-town-of-Nazareth had already been a thorn in their sides for several years.  The Temple leadership and Roman government had an uneasy, but workable truce and neither wanted the precarious peace disrupted. 

The crowds expected their new King to overthrow the Romans and set them free from the oppression they had been subjected to for countless generations.  That’s why they were so excited to see Jesus entering town on a donkey, as had been prophesied in Scripture.  That’s also why they were so disappointed and quick to turn on Jesus when they realized he had no intention of overthrowing the Romans.  The oppression he came to save from had nothing to do with Roman rule, but with the oppression of personal sin. 

What we had was a failure to communicate.  The term King, as the crowds and Romans understood it, was a very different type of king than Jesus was to be.  In spite of trying to draw the distinction throughout his ministry, his followers had difficulty distinguishing between the kingdom of earth and the kingdom of heaven.  We have that difficulty still today.  We look to reap the rewards of our faithful followership of Christ in the kingdom of earth, when our true harvest will be in the kingdom of heaven.  The terminology can be confusing.  Even so, through the ages we shout, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday, the final Sunday before Easter. Tom will be preaching at the west campus and Mitch will be downtown.  All services will begin with a celebration of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, but end with recognition of the painful events leading to his crucifixion.  Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall, traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Enter into this holiest of weeks with us…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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