Next Sunday begins the week we call “Holy Week” in the Church. It represents the last week of the life of Jesus before he was crucified and then resurrected on the first Easter Sunday. Holy Week begins with what we call “Palm Sunday”. It gets its name from the story told in Matthew 21 of people cutting branches out of the trees and laying them on the ground before Jesus as he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
As Jesus went along, people were shouting “Hosanna!” to him. “Hosanna” literally means “save us”. The people were crying out to Jesus asking for him to save them. What they were asking for was for him to save them from the Roman Empire. They wanted him to raise up an army and restore Israel as an independent nation free from Roman control. What they didn’t know was that Jesus had an even bigger plan for what salvation meant that had nothing to do with a violent rebellion.
We have the privilege of looking back with hindsight and knowing that the salvation Jesus had in mind is more about saving us from our own greed, selfishness, egos, and violence. We are incapable of saving ourselves from these diseases that can take over our lives, but thanks to God’s grace we have been given a way out.
Next Sunday when we come to Palm Sunday and we sing “Hosanna!”, remember what we are asking for. We are asking for God to save us, not by raising up the most powerful army in the world, but instead by freeing us for a peaceful and abundant life in God’s grace.