Hosanna! – Matthew 21:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 20, 2016
We all get excited about different things. For some it is sporting events where the crowd is worked up over the home team; for others it is rock concerts, musicals or plays while still others get excited about a newly released movie and campout overnight just to be the first in line to purchase a ticket. Whatever the reason we can get excited over different things. But what if you had heard that someone was coming to your town that had the ability to cure disease, raise the dead, walk on water, or turn that water into the finest wine? What if you had heard that this man could be the answer to all your prayers and the fulfillment of prophecy and thousands of years of longing? (And no it is not Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders!) What would your anticipation be like then?
Jesus has reached the final days of his earthly ministry and everything from this point on builds to a final crescendo like the final movement of a symphony where each group is playing their part of the musical score, or in this case, the plan of God. As Jesus enters into Jerusalem the crowd goes wild and exclaims, “Hosanna!” Let’s discover what this means for us this morning…
While Robert Burns wrote a little ditty to a field mouse lamenting that the best laid plans of mice and men often go “a-gley”, meaning wrong, we can rejoice because…
I. Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the plan of God! (Vv. 1-3)
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
1. The time had come and the final acts of the grand theater of Jesus’ life were coming to a quick ending. Now he and his disciples head toward Jerusalem, now they are on the road to his final destination, and now he is accomplishing the plan he set forth since the creation of the world. Matthew relates “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples” on ahead of him for a specific task. Jesus had told them over and over what would occur and why, yet they still did not comprehend their part. They did not understand that the plan of God would be fulfilled no matter what and they were to be a part of its climax. Jesus and the disciples were approaching Jerusalem from the east as they came up the road from Jericho. They come through the town of Bethphage on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives and though all four Gospels share about Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, only Matthew mentioned a donkey’s colt. Jesus tells them their part is to “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” Interestingly we discover that there are those whose names we never hear about who had minor roles in the plan of God as well. Who owned the donkey and its colt and who were those who spoke to the disciples? We are never told. Yet, all of these folks were part of the final act of God’s perfect plan! Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the plan of God!
EXAMPLE: During this time of political prognostication there are those who plot and plan and scheme in order to garner our votes. They promise the moon, a fence, or free college education but what they truly want is the power and recognition of the position they seek. They try to buy our votes with a promise and a prayer of hope. They would take from those who have something and give it to those who did not work for it. They would hope to abuse our good nature and our desire for answers to further their own agendas. How totally different then is the Son of God as he rides into the city of Jerusalem. The Prince of Peace wanting to bring the peace of God to all who would accept him as savior and Lord. The schemes of man cannot compete with the plan of God! Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the plan of God!
If we are told what we are to receive as a present beforehand, it kind of spoils the surprise. Here we read that the Israelites were told over and over what God had planned all along and still they were surprised when it occurred. Matthew reminds us that…
II. Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets! (Vv. 4-7)
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
1. Matthew, in hindsight, knew why it happened the way it did: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” It was from Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9 NIV) This was not the normal manner in which conquering kings arrived, for usually they came in riding on horses or in chariots. A little colt was a symbol of peace. The phrase having salvation denotes that he would come as a Deliverer, as the one to give salvation to his people. Jesus’ peaceful entrance was fulfilled when he presented himself to Israel in triumph as he entered Jerusalem just as the prophet foretold! Perhaps some of the disciples at the time understood the significance of this gesture of Jesus; however we find that they were still kind of clueless as to why Jesus had come and why he came in peace. Luke describes how even after Jesus’ resurrection and right before his ascension they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 NIV) He came to bring the peace between mankind and God, not between men and men. He tells them, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Matthew 24:6 NIV) Whatever was going through their minds at the time no one knows, but we see that “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.” Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets!
EXAMPLE: “I will come home”, he had told his family. Over and over as he prepared for his tour of duty he reminded them that he would come home — after all, he promised. However a promise is not a promise kept until it is fulfilled. His wife knew and his children sensed that this might be one promise he could not keep. It was dependent upon so many factors: The violence of war, the uncertainty of life, and the hatred of mankind toward one another. And yet, months later, almost a year had gone by, and a dark-colored car pulled up outside of their home and out of the vehicle stepped their father and husband just as he had promised! As he hugged their necks and kissed their cheeks he exclaimed to them, “Didn’t I promise you I would come home?” And he did just as he promised. Since the time of Adam and Eve God had promised to send mankind the answer to their sin condition. And now he had. Unlike the uncertainties of a manmade promise, God’s promises are always sure. Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets!
Hope against hope the folks had longed for an answer from God for their condition. But what they needed and what they wanted were two different things. God saw their need, not their want. In this we discover that…
III. Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the hopes of the people! (Vv. 8-11)
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
1. As I said before, when something exciting happens a large crowd often forms and gets excited about what is going to occur. People talk and gossip spreads like wildfire. It was the biggest festival of the Hebrew calendar in their holy city of Jerusalem and now the one who claimed to be the coming Messiah was headed into Jerusalem! And not in some sneaky backhanded way, he was riding in on the foal of a donkey! Was he the coming king? Was he the Messiah? Who knew, but no one wanted to miss the spectacle! So we discover that “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” The disciples brought the animals, threw their garments on them to make simple saddles, and people in the large crowd spread their cloaks and tree branches on the road! So caught up were the people that “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!'” It literally means “Save (us), we pray!” Interestingly it is from the Psalms, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”(Psalms 118:22-27 NIV) So, in light of the crowds and excitement they brought with them; “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee!'” They were not sure who Jesus was but they were hopeful of who he might be! Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the hopes of the people!
EXAMPLE: It looked like a bicycle from the way it was wrapped and she thought it might be a bicycle because she had been asking and asking for one for such a long longtime. Could it be, was it a bike just for her? In anticipation she unwrapped her gift, she threw aside the wrapping paper, the pretty bow and ribbon, and there before her eyes was a bicycle! Her hopes and dreams were fulfilled. While the shouting crowd did not fully understand the significance of this event, they seemed to be acknowledging that this Jesus is the promise of the prophets who had come to grant them salvation. Both their actions and words display their hopes for this one coming into the city presenting himself publicly as their King. Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the hopes of the people!
Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the plan of God! Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets! Hosanna, Jesus fulfilled the hopes of the people!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.