“Hosanna, praises to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Eternal One! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21
Amid enthusiastic crowds and waving palms, Jesus entered Jerusalem on that Sunday and changed his life – and our lives – forever. Once he crossed the divide from outside the city wall and entered the gate to busy city streets, there was no turning back.
His journey would take him to betrayal, anger, false accusations, wild gossip, loneliness, despair, doubt, and pain. It was a difficult, overwhelming path. It’s astonishing that he chose to go on that journey. It’s one more sign of his unrelenting love for us.
One mystery that our faith celebrates is that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He could have skipped this hard part; he could have silenced his accusers and destroyed his enemies. He could have called on his divine powers to release him from the need to go through the upcoming agony. Instead, he chose to immerse himself in the very human encounter with loss, pain, and even death. He knew that each one of us will experience these in our lives and he didn’t want us to be alone when we did.
If you are on a difficult path right now, or if you know someone who is, the story of Palm Sunday is for you. There is great hope here. When Jesus decided to walk on that brutal path toward the Cross, he was choosing to know what it is like to be vulnerable, overwhelmed, and scared – to be human.
When we lift up our prayers in the midst of pain and loss, confusion and betrayal, we are talking to someone who has experienced those very human conditions himself. Whether we are excluded because of who we are, what we look like, or who we love, we can turn to One who has been on this journey before us.
This can offer us hope and maybe the strength to carry on. Life can be brutally painful at times. It is easy to be disheartened and wonder where God might be at this particular, overwhelming moment. Palm Sunday reminds us – God is on this path with us. When we talk with God – even through gritted teeth, unsure if our prayers will make any difference – we are talking to One who knows. Who understands. Who has been here.
“Hosanna!” means “save us!” Those prayers for strength, wisdom and endurance are lifted up to God who has promised never to leave us or abandon us. The message of Palm Sunday is one of hope. We are not alone. Let us lift up our voices and sing our praises to God.