Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

“Hosanna in the Highest!”

Categories: Congregational Bible Reading


“And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”” (Matthew 21.9)

“Hosanna” was a Hebrew declaration of hopeful triumph. In scripture, this word is always used in the context of God’s deliverance through the Messiah. It is fitting people would say this as Jesus entered Jerusalem; he had proven himself to be the king God promised for his people. But their declaration was more than just a word of praise.  

The English word “hosanna” comes from a Hebrew phrase “hoshiya na” that is found once in the Old Testament. “Save us [hoshiya na], we pray, O LORD!” (Psalm 118:25). In this context it is a cry to God for help, like when somebody pushes you off the diving board before you can swim and you come up hollering: "Help, save me . . . Hoshiya na!"

The writer of Psalm 118 is desperate for God’s salvation, but his cry is answered almost before it came out his mouth. As he looks forward to God’s promised salvation, the writer’s desperation evolves into a sure and hopeful expectation of deliverance. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” (Psalm 118.26). He is confident the Lord will send help.

These are the words proclaimed as Jesus enters Jerusalem (Matthew 21.9). Jesus had said and done enough to prove himself to the Jews. And so, at this point the battle lines were drawn. The people who experienced Jesus either accepted that he was sent from God to save them or rejected him. There was no casual in between, and that’s how Jesus wanted it. He was the Messiah sent from God to save people, but he could only save those who trusted him to do so.

These people may not have fully understood who Jesus was or what he was saving them from; but they recognized God’s providence and acknowledged his grace through Jesus. Their declaration of “hosanna” captures the essence of why we need Jesus. We are in desperate need of saving; drowning in sin and alienated from God (Colossians 1.21). We don’t like to feel desperate, but we must see clearly that unless God does something, we are dead in the water… but God has sent help (Ephesians 2.4-5). As believers we must recognize our desperate need for God’s help and set our hearts to fully trust what he is given to us through his son Jesus. Our king has come to save us (1 Timothy 1.15)!

Matthew’s narrative has brought us to a point of decision. He has demonstrated Jesus’ power and confirmed his authority. The evidence proves that he can save… but how will our heart respond? God alone can save, and until we come to terms with our helplessness, and recognize this point, we will never realize the fulfillment of him as our king.

“The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us.” (Psalm 118.27)