May 16 “Hosanna!”

Hosanna!

Two of the disciples brought the donkey and her colt to Jesus just as He had instructed them.
Also as predicted, the owner of the two animals asked the two disciples what they were doing with his livestock. They answered as Jesus told them to answer,

“The Lord has need of them.”

The owner of the donkeys did not question the disciples. He simply sent his animals into the care of the followers of Jesus. It is unlikely, or at least unknown, whether the man was aware of the ancient prophecy:

Behold , your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”

The moment for the fulfillment of this prophecy had come. The Disciples saddled the colt of the donkey as best they could using their own cloaks and robes. Something about the sight of Jesus mounting to ride the donkey signaled to the crowd that a procession was about to begin. A sort of fever ran through the assembling celebrants. Perhaps this miracle worker was about to claim the title many were already using for Him—Messiah!—Anointed One! Someone removed his cloak and spread it on the street in front of the donkey and the idea caught on. Soon the street was paved with cloths of varying colors, some bright and some dull. Another man with a long knife cut a branch from one of the trees lining the route and began to wave it in the air. This gesture too, was copied so that soon palm branches beat the morning air in celebration.

A woman produced a timbrel from the large bag she carried and suddenly the procession had rhythm. From nowhere other portable instruments came into use as the crowd began to sing. At first the song was wordless, just a melody of joy and hope spilling from the hearts of people with a long tradition who were suffering from painful oppression. The children could not resist a game so delightful that even adults could play. The words, memorized since childhood, were added to the songs:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”

This was not chaotic. There was an order to this impromptu parade:

  • First came a large group of celebrants chanting psalms and dancing.
  • They introduced Jesus on the donkey attended by the Twelve.
  • Last came more dancers and singers, celebrating with all their might this moment of hope in their otherwise hopeless lives.

Jesus moved along at the center of the procession.

Into Jerusalem
Long before they entered the gates of the city the crowd had grown too large to be ignored. The music had grown in intensity and even in excellence since they had rehearsed their songs on the march. The people who had come to the city on ordinary business got more than they shopped for that day. Someone, probably a leader or a soldier who was responsible for keeping order, asked,

“Who is this?”

The crowd answered as one, never breaking the rhythm of their song and dance:

“This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

With Jesus at the center their worship, the message of hope was clear to all—when will we learn this?

Scriptures:
Matthew 21:1-11
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion,’ Behold , your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord !’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I too, will sing the ancient songs of praise. I will sing “Hosanna!” which means “Save us, O Lord!” I will sing “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” I will declare You to be Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of David and the Son of God. I will sing from my heart. My heart will dance to the rhythms of Your processions through this day. I will lift my voice in testimony to those who observe my march—Jesus is King! He is Lord! He is Your only Salvation! Help them hear me, O Lord, help them all to hear me. Amen.

Song:
Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
Words: Jennette Threlfall; Music: Traditonal

1. Hosanna, loud hosanna the little children sang;
through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them, close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.

2 From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
the victory palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven rode on in lowly state,
nor scorned that little children should on his bidding wait.

3 “Hosanna in the highest!” That ancient song we sing,
for Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven, our King.
O may we ever praise him with heart and life and voice,
and in his blissful presence eternally rejoice.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

October 25 “Hosanna!”

Hosanna!

It was a crowd, to be sure, that filled the streets of Jerusalem, but we must not see them as nameless and faceless.
They were everyday people with all the inner conflicts and life-struggles common to life then and life today. They could see that there was something different about Jesus. He was a good speaker, but it was more than that. He was kind to all (except the crooks and criminals who ran the place) but He was more than just a good man. There was power in Him, a power that could flow out from Him to meet the most desperate needs. Many had seen it happen and all had heard the stories.

Messiah?
The subtext of life in Jerusalem under Roman rule was the longing for Messiah, the long-promised Deliverer who would restore true worship and bring Jehovah God back to His covenantal promises of freedom and prosperity. It was easy for each citizen to fill in the blanks of what Messiah might do for him or her. Why not? They were God’s Covenantal People. If they were true to their part of the covenant, the same God who parted the Red Sea for Moses, made the Jordan roll up on one side for Joshua and made the sun stand still in the sky till the battle was won could help each of them out a little!

Hosanna!
The Passover feast was underway and the celebrants jamming the streets heard that Jesus was on His way to the city. If He was reluctant to make His Messianic claim, perhaps they could help Him a little. They cut branches from palm trees and went out to meet Him. Some even spread their own cloaks and outer garments in His pathway, treating Him like a king. They had known songs for the Messiah since they were children and took to them as if well-rehearsed.

“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
“The King of Israel!”

Musicians appeared playing pipes, drums, and tambourines. Dancers whirled to the music as joy and hope danced together in the streets of Jerusalem. Such a display was sure to bring Him out of His reluctance.

Jesus was riding a young donkey, just as was prophesied. His men were confused. Why had He been so careful just a few days before just to make such a public declaration now? Later, they would understand but on this day, they possessed only questions and fears.

Driven by Needs
Why the celebration? The raising of Lazarus spurred the hopes of the people. If Jesus could do that, He must be Messiah! When He came to the throne, surely He would meet the needs of the nation and those of the people.

The songs of the people calling for Messiah continued unabated. The Pharisees saw that they were defeated again. They had no way of discounting the Lazarus miracle or stopping the people as they made this dangerous declaration. Realizing they were about to lose their positions of power, they murmured among themselves.

“ You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

The music, the dancing, and the joyful shouts of the crowd drowned out the sound of the murmuring.

Scriptures:
John 12:12-19

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord !’ The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, according to the psalms we must say among the nations, “The Lord Reigns!” It is so and we proclaim it. Motives may have been mixed in the streets of Jerusalem that day, but our motives are singular!—We crown You King! There is none beside You, none worthy to be compared with You! Of all kings, You are King. Of all lords, You are Lord. Of all princes, You are the Prince of Peace! Receive the humble crown we offer You, for it is only our hearts but You have chosen to make Your throne there! Hosanna to the King!

Song:
Jesus, We Crown You King

Words and Music: Stephen Phifer

1. Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
Jesus, we crown You the King of all kings.
You’re the joy of all creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You—Lord, we exalt You—
Jesus, we crown You King of kings.

2. Jesus, we crown You the lord of all Lords.
Jesus, we crown You the lord of all Lords.
On a throne of greatest splendor You are worshiped and adored.
Jesus, we crown You—Lord, we exalt You—
Jesus, we crown You Lord of Lords.

3. Jesus, we crown You the Prince of all peace.
Jesus, we crown You the Prince of all peace.
For You ride on every tempest, make the wildest storm to cease.
Jesus, we crown You—Lord, we exalt You—
Jesus, we crown You Prince of peace.

Bridge:
King of kings, Lord of lords,
Prince of Peace, Mighty God,
We crown You now as we sing.
Jesus, we crown You King of kings.

You’re the joy of all creation, make the morning stars to sing!
Jesus, we crown You—Lord, we exalt You—
Jesus, we crown You King of kings.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

April 9, 2017 Palm/Passion Sunday

Temple

No one knows where Jesus found that whip, the one He used on the money-changers that day, but He knew how to use it.

It was the third Temple to stand In Jerusalem.
The first Temple, built by King Solomon on the plans of His father, David, stood for many years before apostasy and the Babylonians brought it down. The second was built by Zerubbabel, a “Prince of Judah,” born in Babylon but also born in King David’s line. It stood until the reign of King Herod who began construction on a Temple of a size and beauty to rival Solomon’s structure. This political gesture was still under construction the day Jesus found that whip.

The gentle Jesus had fire in His eyes.
His strong, carpenter’s hands were sure of grip and his powerful arms smooth in motion. He did not miss. Doves flew from broken cages. Coins scattered noisily on the stone pavement. Merchants scrambled down dangerous Temple steps facing injury if they fell forward and the lash if they stood still.

It wasn’t as if no one had seen Jesus angry before.

  • His disciples had seen the fire in His eyes every time He and the religious leaders confronted each other in the city streets.
  • Many times Jesus seemed almost amused at the stupidity of His attackers. As quickly as lightning can light up a stormy night, His eyes would flash with anger at their wickedness, their pride, and their uncaring malice toward the people of God.
  • His ready powers of speech could produce impressive names as His anger erupted toward them: “Whited sepulchers,” –that meant they were cleaned up graves with only death and corruption inside, “brood of vipers,–meaning they were just so many snakes.

Sometimes His anger was so great that it brought tears.
On this day, as He approached the city, He had broken down in tears over their disregard of the visitation from God that was happening in front of them. He had wept before because the people were leaderless, like “sheep without a shepherd.”

  • This was a city of intrigue instead of truth.
  • This government was one of raw power instead of grace and these leaders of show and not substance broke His heart.
  • Now this Temple was a house of greed instead of grace, a place of profit instead of prayer.

Perhaps His eyes still stung with tears even as he overturned the tables, scattered the scavengers, and proclaimed their sin for all to hear!

“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?
But you have made it ‘a den of thieves.”

A Different Order
Their corrupt political machine grinding to a halt before them, the religious leaders scrambled to restore order. Before they could do that, Jesus started healing sick people. The same strong hand that served out justice without mercy, now delivered mercy and justice. There was nothing the establishment could do to stop Him.

Some of the people listened. Some of them felt His touch. They came to the temple that day with barely enough to buy a dove for a sin sacrifice and they went home healed. How can this be? How can one group of people have welts to dress from the whip and others have new life to relish from the same hand?

The only answer is grace—the one thing a Temple must possess.

When the healing was done, Jesus returned to rest in Bethany. The next day brought another debate with the leaders and another loss for them. Jesus was just as sure a marksman with the comment or story as He was with the whip. They were sorely outmatched.

Scriptures:
Mark 11:15-18; 13:1-2
NIV
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
Psalm 24:7-10 NKJV
Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.
Isaiah 62:10 NKJV
Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, to you we shout “Hosanna!” which means “save us now!” We must honor Your procession into this house of worship. We shout Your praises and sing of Your might. We will not let rocks and stones out-sing us! We will carpet the ground before with our hearts. We will wave our hands like living branches to welcome You into our House, into our spirits. Hosanna! In the Highest! Save us now, O Lord! We need You and Your astounding peace. May Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done in us this day! Hallelujah! Amen!

Song:
Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
Words: Jennette Threlfall; Music: Traditional

1. Hosanna, loud hosanna the little children sang;
through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them, close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.

2. From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
the victory palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven rode on in lowly state,
nor scorned that little children should on his bidding wait.

3. “Hosanna in the highest!” That ancient song we sing,
for Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven, our King.
O may we ever praise him with heart and life and voice,
and in his blissful presence eternally rejoice.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved