Hosanna In the Highest
Text: Mark 11: 1-11
Proposition: The cry of Hosanna in the highest was a cry both to the degree of saving and to the One doing the saving, Jesus the Christ.
Introduction: It was December 1944, the German army launched a major counter attack that encircled and laid siege to the Belgium town of Bastonge. In it were 12,000 Allied soldiers. The weather was relentlessly overcast and rainy and General George S. Patton couldn’t do anything. All Patton needed was one 24 hour window to rescue the men but the forecast for the next week was grim. In desperation Patton summoned Third Army chaplain Col. James O'Neill to draft up a prayer. Patton then had the prayer printed on 25,000 wallet sized cards and distributed it to his men to pray. This is what that prayer said, “Almighty and most merciful Father we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that armed with Thy power we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.” The next day the weather cleared and the Third Army broke through and brought rescue to the towns people and the 12,000soldiers.
This morning we are going to look at another true story that is incomparably greater, greater in degree as to those saved and even greater in rank by the One doing the saving. Turn with me Mark 11: 1-11.
I. In a Measured Way That Fulfills God’s Plan, Jesus Enters Jerusalem. Last week we read about Jesus being down in Jericho as He healed blind Bartimaeus. Jericho is about 800 feet below sea level (last week I had said 1500), the Dead Sea is about 1300 below sea level. The Mount of Olives which Bethany was on the eastern slope of, was about 3000 feet above sea level so it would be about an 18 mile hike up to Bethany, almost a 4000 foot climb. Jesus likely left Jericho on a Friday and made His way to Bethany that same day. He stays there for the Sabbath and then on Sunday morning He heads towards Jerusalem. In chapter 14 of Mark he returns to the events of that Sabbath visit to Bethany but in chapter 11 it is Sunday after that Sabbath.. The day starts with Jesus and the disciples leaving Bethany and going towards Bethphage about a mile away. Now comes the peculiar beginning to what you and I would call Palm Sunday. Jesus sends two disciples ahead to Bethphage to find a donkey’s colt tied up to a house on the outskirts of the village. This must have seemed peculiar since where they were was just two or three miles from Jerusalem, an easy walk compared to the hike from Jericho. So they go and things are just as He said. The disciples return with the colt and they help Jesus take his seat on the colt, an animal that had never been ridden before. It’s a peculiar detail that we have come know fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” An unridden colt would be awkward and typically would not want to be led. Was this meant to be a picture of mankind, the very ones He would soon give His life for? We know it is a fulfillment of prophecy that to some degree was meant to not only help the people recognize the Messiah but also to typify the humble intent of why He was coming in such a way. Jesus came to serve the purposes of being the sacrifice for sin, once for all. The humility of Jesus is seen in everything in His life, where He was born in a manger, the trade He worked at as a carpenter, the simple clothes He wore, the borrowed donkey, the borrowed upper room for the last supper, the borrowed tomb that was just three miles away. It is a measured, preplanned, deliberate path to the cross. It happened at the Father’s timing making it fulfill all the type and picture of the Passover lamb. Even the Pharisees had to change their plans as they didn’t want to arrest Jesus at this time yet were in a sense forced to make their move. God’s plan is fulfilled right down to the way the people heralded Jesus as He rides to the crest of the Mount of Olives. ‘Rejoice greatly… Shout O daughter of Jerusalem”. And that brings us to the second point of this incredible day.
II. Without Realizing It The People Declare the Deep Truth Of Who Jesus Is. Look at how the praise unfolds in verse 9, “Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna!...”. This is a reference to the crowd that was in Jerusalem for the Passover hearing about Jesus approaching the city. For many who they really wanted to see was Lazarus, the one Jesus raised from dead. So that crowd comes pouring out of Jerusalem and comes up the road to the top of the Mount of Olives. As they get there the crowd that has been with Jesus since Jericho and Bethany and Bethphage merges and the two groups form this jubilant mass of people that are about to be used by God to herald the truth of Who Jesus is. It all begins when the crowd begins to cry out a phrase that had been referenced in the Psalms. For generations they had used Psalms or songs of praise as they ascended to the Temple. Psalm 118 was one of those great songs. Listen to some of the words that would been very familiar to the people of that day, “The stone which the builders rejected as become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.” (Psalm 118:22-25) It’s that phrase, ‘save now’ that is the root meaning of the word ‘Hosanna’. In moments the people begin to cry praise that for them was like a familiar song yet now in the midst of this praise, God the Holy Spirit stirs them to call it out with a fervor that surprised them all. Listen to the three things they cry out describing Who it is that saves them. “‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” The one who is about to save us comes in the LORD’s name, with the LORD’s mandate and power. Blessed is this One. Secondly they cry out, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord!” This is a reference to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7 where God promises David that there will come from his genealogy a King whose kingdom will be eternal. The title Son of David has the same inference. Thirdly they cry out this, “Hosanna in the highest!” So in essence what they cry out is that Jesus is the embodiment of the LORD, He comes in His name. They cry out that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy in God’s promise to bring His kingdom to earth. Lastly they cry out that this saving act is a Hosanna in the highest meaning being saved to the highest degree, higher than financial prosperity or political deliverance. It is the saving to the uttermost, it is being saved eternally body, soul and spirit. Hosanna in the highest is not just the degree to which we are being saved it also describes the exalted nature of the One doing the saving. It’s Hosanna IN the Highest, Jesus the Son of God, eternally self existent God is the One in whom we are now made alive and saved eternally. I would submit to you that the people cried out a truth that day that was much, much greater than what they realized. It’s like the parallel account of this in Matthew 21:6 where Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” The wonder of Who Jesus is as our Hosanna in the highest is even today proclaimed by children and adults who though they speak the truth of Scripture don’t realize the depths of the perfected praise they say. And that is the glory of God, He uses our failings and shortsightedness to still glorify Himself. Little did the people realize that day that they were being used of God to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, ‘ Rejoice greatly…Shout…Behold your King…’. This Jesus, this Son of God on the cross of Calvary, this Christ is our Hosanna in the Highest, we are saved to the highest degree possible by God, saved by the Highest One, Jesus our LORD.