Dear BLCF Friends,
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.
– Pastor Steve
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Hosanna: Our Cry; HIS Reply’
© March 28, 2021, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on April 13, 2014
Announcements and Call to Worship
Responsive Reading #625 (The Triumphal Entry – Mark 11 and Matthew 21); Prayer
Opening Hymn (See back of Bulletin): Hosanna
Scripture Verses: Zechariah 9:9-10, John 12:12-36, Psalm 92:12-15
Today is Palm Sunday, an important day on the Christian Calendar. For Catholics, who sometimes refer to today as ‘Passion Sunday’, it marks the last week of Lent, a period of self-sacrifice prior to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For all Christians, it marks the start of Holy Week, a time when Jesus, as fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah, triumphantly enters Jerusalem, riding upon a donkey:
Zechariah 9:9-10 (ESV)
The Coming King of Zion
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
We began today’s lesson, with a Responsive Reading, which paraphrased the accounts of Christ’s arrival that were recorded by the disciples Mark and Matthew. Though the reception given by the people for Jesus’ entry to the city was like that given to a king, the mode of transportation he elected to use was not what the world would expect of arriving royalty. Instead of a noble horse or stately chariot, Christ arrived by means of a donkey, the same mode of transportation that his mother Mary used to go to Bethlehem, when she and her husband Joseph travelled to respond to the Census call by Caesar Augustus, as told in Luke, Chapter 2. This is where the similarity ends, as our Lord’s journey to Jerusalem was in response to a higher calling, rather than a response to the Emperor of Rome. And our Lord intended to do more than what the disciples had expected, which was to go to the city to celebrate Passover. Jesus intended to glorify God, and restore the separation of the people from Him, which was the result of sin.
Let us, again review the account given by John, which he authored as an apostle of the Lord, rather than as a disciple. You may be aware that John’s Epistles were authored some 30 years after Passover, where the disciples, following the ascension of the Lord and the Day of Passover, had received God’s Holy Spirit, so that by the Great Commission of Christ, became Apostles of the Lord, no longer Disciples of Christ. That is why I elected to use John’s account of Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. John had the advantage of knowing how, when and why Jesus would glorify the love and compassion of God towards a humanity who were facing the judgement of sin, which is death.
John 12:12-36 (ESV): The Triumphal Entry
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” Some Greeks Seek Jesus 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.
John was able to give us a better understanding of the purpose and plan for Christ’s entry into Jerusalem upon a humble donkey. Christ was aware that in order to remove God’s judgement upon the world, Jesus would have to take upon himself the punishment for all of humanity’s collective sin. In order to achieve this sacrifice, the Lord had to step down from his throne, like the seed of grain, and die in order to bear much fruit. Jesus is the grain; his death would be on the cross; and the fruit that he bears would be the gifts of salvation an eternal life. The other gift we see in verse 31, is that that Satan, who is ruler of this world, is cast out. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus simultaneously has conversations with the Father in heaven and with the people gathered around him. It is interesting to note, that some of the crowd thought that when God spoke, they thought it to be thunder, while others thought that an angel was speaking. And let us look again at verse 27 and 28: 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
This brings us to the title of today’s message: ‘Hosanna: Our Cry; HIS Reply’.To understand what is meant by this title, must first understand what we mean when we say, or as we had sung earlier, Hosanna. And for a definition, let us look at the Wiki bits from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Hosanna (/hoʊˈzænə/) is a liturgical word in Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is always used in its original Hebrew form, Hoshana. Christianity: “Hosanna” was the shout of praise or adoration made in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” It is used in the same way in Christian praise, especially on Palm Sunday which commemorates that event. Etymology: The word hosanna (Latin osanna, Greek ὡσαννά, hōsanná) is from Hebrew הושיעה־נא, הושיעהנא hôshia-nā’ which is short for hôšî‘â-nā’ from Aramaic הושענא meaning “save, rescue” (possibly “savior”). In the Hebrew Bible it is used only in verses such as “help” or “save, I pray” (Psalms 118:25). It is applied in numerous verses of the New Testament including “Hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11.9), “hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:10); “hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9). The old interpretation “Save, now!”, based on Psalm 118:25, does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels as a shout of jubilation, and this has given rise to complex discussions.
So it appears that we have Hosanna, according to Wikipedia, described both as a shout of jubilation and a cry for salvation! Our opening hymn was the former, while in John 12:27, Jesus spoke of Hosanna as the latter. In a sense, Hosanna is both. Christ chose not to be saved from his death on the cross, in order to give humanity the celebration of victory over death, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for humanity’s sake. His loss was our gain. I think that it is safe to conclude that the crowd shouted ‘Hosanna’ to celebrate the Messiah’s arrival, while at the same time asking Christ for their salvation. Jesus had yet to die on the cross, and humanity was subject to God’s judgement and punishment for sin. So the Hosannas were a plea to God for His mercy. After Jesus died, the Hosannas that we sing are praises to Him, acknowledging His love and mercy, provided by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The next question we might ask is: Why was the palm branch used to carpet the path of the donkey which carried our Lord? Here is a portion of an article on the subject by André Roosma:
The Palm Tree in the Bible: Full of Rich Symbolism
André H. Roosma, 28 January 2012 (NL orig.: 11 Jan. 2012)
The Bible presents a lot of symbolism featuring the palm tree. God refers in His Word to a number of characteristic aspects of the palm tree:
- an abundance of especially refreshing fruits;
- its growth: rather fast, and straight up;
- the ever-green leaves at its top;
- with its raised branches/leaves (the official term is: fronds) at its top it seems to worship God the way it was done in Biblical times: with raised arms;
- to that end, those fronds let themselves easily moved by the wind (compare: the Spirit of God);
- by its example and by its fruits it stimulates men to look up and to listen to God.
The most widely used Biblical Hebrew word for ‘palm tree’ is תמר – tamar. In the old pictographic script this is: – literally: ‘the sign of water/abundance of the Other (God). The first time this word tamar appears in the Bible is in Exodus 15: 27 and parallel in Numbers 22: 9. Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there by the water. On their voyage from Egypt the people of Israel came in Elim, where, it says, there were 70 palm trees. Now 70 is in the Bible the number of great fullness. Did one date palm in the desert already mean good news, a fullness of palm trees was extraordinarily refreshing for the people. Together with the twelve water wells, one for every tribe, this was typically a sign of God’s blessing and care for them. He granted them to be refreshed and to receive new energy.
And to those familiar with the Scriptures, the palm tree represented those who receive the righteousness of the God, by way of His righteous Son, Jesus. As believers and followers of the resurrected Christ, we may bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit by sharing the Gospel of Jesus unto the ends of the earth, which is the ‘Great Commission’ Christ gave to us. We are reminded of this, by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:
Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock,
and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Let us then consider our Hosanna, as our Palm Sunday prayer of praise to a God Who is merciful and kind, with a great love for us. And as a sinful world cries out for salvation from judgement; God replies by offering a path to salvation by way of his Son, Jesus:
John 3:16 (ESV): For God So Loved the World
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #63: ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24):
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.