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Hosanna!

By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador

John 12:13

“Ka mau ratou ki nga manga nikau, haere ana ki te whakatau i a ia, me te karanga, Ohana: Ka whakapaingia ia, e haere mai nei i runga i te ingoa o te Ariki, te Kingi o Iharaira.”

“O lea sa ‘ave e i latou lālā o le la‘au ma ō atu e fa‘afeiloa‘i ‘iā te ia, ‘ua ‘alalaga fo‘i i latou: “Osana, ia manuia lē o afio mai i le suafa o le Ali‘i, o le Tupu o Isaraelu!””

“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!”

Jesus was making the three-kilometre walk from Bethany to Jerusalem. Stories about his raising Lazarus from the dead swirled across the region and throughout Jerusalem. The city was swollen with crowds in preparation for Passover.

When a king came to a city in the first century, it was normal for the inhabitants to come out and honour him, escorting him and welcoming him into the city. In the same way, this great crowd poured out of the city to greet a king.

These people had been longing for a king to free them from the oppressive rule of the Romans. They came out of the city waving palm branches—a Jewish national symbol. Palm trees represented freedom and independence from Rome. When Judea did eventually rebel against Rome, they put images of palms on their coins.

The entire act of welcoming Jesus as king was an act of defiance against Roman occupation.

The people welcomed King Jesus shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” from Zechariah 9:9. They welcome Jesus as king, recalling the prophecy in Zechariah chapter nine. Zechariah foretold the image of a Jewish King coming to his people riding on a donkey.

The Jews expected a king who would come to conquer the Roman occupiers with chariots and horsemen. Instead, John paints the image of a king who conquers through the cross.

The chief priests were concerned and infuriated at this point. They thought this king’s popularity was dangerous; they thought that his popularity equalled power. The crowds were fickle, however, and less than a week later they crucified the Christ.

John's story is surprising. As it turns out, this king was not most powerful when he was triumphantly entering Jerusalem. The king's true triumph came as he hung alone on a cross, nailed to two poles. Paul says in 1 Corinthians: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

The crowds thought Jesus was a king coming to deal with the sin and evil of the Romans. Instead, John shows that this king came to deal with their own sin. He came to deal with the sin, death and evil of all people.

In that moment when Jesus triumphed over sin and death on the cross, his power was clearly displayed before all. The cross truly is the power of God.



 

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