As we read this passage of Jesus’s so called “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem we must remember that the true meaning of “Hosanna” is not “a shout of praise or adoration” or “to praise or applaud” as the dictionary currently defines it. At the time Jesus’s entered the city, humbly on a donkey, he was purposely fulfilling the prophesy of Zachariah. (Zach 9:9) The people believed that Jesus had come to be their king, to lead them out of an oppressive system of occupation imposed by the Roman authorities. Those cries of “Hosha-na! Save us now!” are still being shouted today by the people who are now living under the same oppressive systems of occupation imposed by the new Roman authority, the Israeli government.
Each year thousands of internationals participate in the “Palm Sunday Walk” waving palm branches and singing hymns while following the traditional route that Jesus took from Bethany into Jerusalem… or at least part of it. The beginning of the route is now blocked by the Separation Wall built by Israel with U.S. money on the guise of security. In Bethany the Wall divides Palestinians from Palestinians, father from son, child from school, patient from hospital. All too many of those internationals who have zealously come to “walk where Jesus walked” have no idea that thousands of indigenous Palestinian Christians, many of whom are descended from the original disciples, are barred from entering the city by the Israeli military. There is no triumphal entry for them. Instead faithful Christians and clergy alike are forced to shout “Hosanna” from the other side of a thirty-foot concrete wall as they face their holy city of Jerusalem but cannot enter. They understand the true meaning of Hosanna. “Save us! Save us now!”
As we begin to celebrate Holy Week and look forward to the resurrection, let us continue to be mindful of those whose voices are crying out for redemption, for release from captivity, for justice, for freedom, for the basic human rights that God granted to all people. Let us not only pray for them, but let us join Jesus on that walk to Jerusalem, so that we can do the work He called us to do, so that others can be free.