I’m always a bit annoyed by preachers who talk about Easter on Palm Sunday, but today was a pleasant surprise. Coming home for the weekend, Kevin Monet–layperson and drummer for the worship team–spoke on the idea of “hosanna.” The Greek for Hosanna, he reminds us, is “save now.” In the person of Jesus Christ, the Jewish community of Jerusalem saw a man worthy of messianic hope–a hope that had so long disappointed and frustrated them. The division of the kingdom, then the assyrians ransacking their country, followed by the Babylonians, then the Persian, and finally the Greeks and Romans had so totally frustrated the Jewish community that some were well with giving up all hope. But, bubbling under the surface, a powerful and apocalyptic vision of the future arose in books like Daniel and Isaiah.
The Jews who came from these traditions were not willing to idly sit by and watch the kingdom of Israel be further marginalized and oppressed by the Jews. Kevin reminded us that in the word “hosanna,” we are not only singing praise to God’s anointed, but we are calling out “save now.” Breaking through the eschatological hope of Israel was also a frustration and an all so human response suggesting the pain and torment going in within the souls of those very Jews who called Jesus Lord. These same Jews that are calling out to Jesus are also the ones under the burden of heavy taxation. This is not just a nice event to usher in easter–palm Sunday is an event within itself and can only be understood in that moment in that time once. We can only peer into and try to empathisize with the pain and suffering in Jerusalem that happened that day.
And within this day we find the paradoxical emotions of love for Israel and hate for repulsive Roman rule, looking forward to the future while despairing in their present paralysis, and their happiness of a coming messiah intermingled with a doubt because so many others have come before. It is in this moment–with these precise feelings–that we enter into Palm Sunday. Today then becomes a day where we close our eyes–meditating upon the scene. In the midst of doubt, perhaps we can find a small thimble of hope in this carpenter. In the midst of despair, perhaps we can look forward to a final future where justice rolls down like a mighty stream. Perhaps in the midst of the hate for the systems we feel so powerless to stop, we see a character that will maybe–just maybe–conquer them with love.