It is a scene common to all four Gospels. It’s one of those stories that has its own title: “The Triumphant Entry.” It is re-enacted every year at the beginning of the most sacred week in the church calendar, a week so important it is known simply as “Holy Week.”
Jesus approaches Jerusalem for the last time in his life, and as he does he draws a crowd. The people throw their coats on the ground in front of the colt he is riding, along with branches they’ve cut from surrounding trees. Both actions indicate the arrival of a conquering king.
And as he comes, they make some noise! The crowd stretches in front of Jesus and trails behind, and as they process, they shout. Imagine the chaos! The dust rising from their feet and thickening the air, every voice amplifying another in shouts of celebration, the pungent smells of people crowded together under the sun.
What a moment it must have been! A flash-mob of praise and happiness, all centered on Jesus.
And what refrain was being sung? What was the content of the people’s parade?
“Save us.” It was a plea. A petition.
The way it appears in the Greek, it looks like a combination of two Hebrew words, one for “save” and one for “I pray.” The people were shouting out a prayer for salvation.
And along with the plea for saving, they were shouting out a blessing – “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David.” The people clearly thought that Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem was going to be the start of a great revolution in which the Romans would be overthrown and the throne of David would be restored. The salvation they asked for was salvation from the oppressive rule of Rome. What a day of rejoicing it surely was!
And so, once again this year Jesus draws a crowd at the beginning of “Holy Week” as we gather to worship, to sing “Hosanna,” to celebrate the presence of the one who saves us. We will think about “The Triumphant Entry” at all three services this weekend, and all are welcome to come and worship together!
See y’all in church!