“Save us!” is usually a cry that comes from desperation. “Save us!” cries out the COVID-19 patient. “Save us!” cries the medical workers and volunteers who are overwhelmed with cases. “Save us!” cries the fearful of catching it or spreading it. “Save us!” cries the lonely. “Save us!” you cry. Fear causes the cry, “Save us!” Not today. Today, it is a cry that comes from joy and anticipation. The word we will use is Hosanna. “Hosanna” the people shout as Jesus parades into Jerusalem. Hosanna means, “Save us now, Lord!” It certainly doesn’t sound joyful but it’s because of the one we cry to: Jesus, our good king.
Look deeper with me. Jesus was coming to a people who were waiting for him for a long time. He came to save them. In order to save them, he had to die. And Jesus has come to rescue you by dying. How can this death be joyful?
Thousands of years since the Garden of Eden, the promise was made. God declared to the Devil, “I am going to crush you!” But the smack-down didn’t take place for a long time. The people had to wait. Since that first promise, many people came focusing hearts back on the promise, “He is coming. Keep waiting. Be patient. God will save you!”
And then God made good on the promise. God came. But Jesus was not what they were expecting. Jesus didn’t tare open the sky and ride down on his steed. The Israelites were looking for the mighty army. Great leaders of that time had trumpets and fanfare, soldiers and chariots. But not Jesus. Jesus rode on a donkey followed by a dozen regular men. When he came the people rejoiced, just as Zechariah predicted.
The welcome party didn’t quite get that he was going to die. They knew he was God’s man. They knew he was different. He healed. He quieted storms. He told dead people “Rise up!” and they did. Every time the Pharisees tried to trick him, Jesus was one step ahead and able to outsmart them. Jesus was something else, but he was no regular war hero.
Here he was riding in. They give him the respect, honor, and glory. They cry out, “Hosanna!” “Save us now, Lord!” They believed he came to do that and he will. They believed he came to make things right and he would. Even though they didn’t know when, they knew he was the one.
They waited. The Israelite people had a history of not waiting well. They worshiped false gods, they wandered. They forgot about God. They thought he was holding out on them. But they waited. Some told their families about what God was doing to love them. He promised to redeem them. They kept waiting. David wrote in Psalm 13, “How long?” Daniel asked God, “How long?” Habakkuk questioned, “How long?” Then silence. No word, no prophet. I am sure many others joined the chorus, “How long?”
You can almost hear the nations mock them. “Are you sure this is real? Haven’t you been waiting for a long time? Your God said he was coming but he hasn’t showed up yet. Are you sure any of this is real?”
He comes to save us. He always keeps his promises. He doesn’t do it in the “right time” as you and I think about it. We are almost certain that every right time is yesterday. It is a test of faith as we learn to wait for him and trust that he is wiser than we are, he is good and he knows exactly what he is doing.
Lent is good for us because we know we are waiting. Just as they did. We wait. God promised us. He rescued us by dying. He paid for our sins. He declared that we are not fatherless, we are purchased. He redeemed us. He promised to abide with us all our days and promised to take us to heaven.
We have to live by faith. We weren’t there. They were. We read about it, but have not lived it. The Holy Spirit has created faith in our hearts to trust these promises.
It has been a long time though. This happened 2000 years ago. You can hear it today, too. “You’ve been waiting a long time. Remember when God used to speak to you. Are you sure this is real? Are you sure you aren’t waiting in vain hope?”
We are waiting on God who keeps his promises. He says, “I will. But wait for my perfect timing.” We cry out, “How long O Lord?” The world is hard. The waiting is difficult. It is easy to have moments of doubt. “God, aren’t you doing something?” We get bored. We get bored hearing the same thing. We get bored with the good stuff. “Yes, yes. We’ve heard these promises before. Jesus loves me, this I know. For I learned it long ago.” We are sloppy and lazy as we wait. For this we need to repent.
It is hard to think that God will keep his promises when we know the track record of promises others have made to us or we have made ourselves. Sometimes we make promise and we want to keep them but we can’t. Sometimes we make promises and we can’t keep them even though we want to. We make them and we know we can’t keep it but we promise anyways. God is not like us. God makes them, he has the ability to keep them and he does it. Jesus has come. He rode into Jerusalem for you. Don’t think about this as a dusty fact to be put on the shelf again for next year. This is your very salvation. This is what calms your heart. This is what provides the peace.
So we march ahead to the upper room, calvary, and the empty tomb. Look into these promises fulfilled this week. Rejoice in the promises fulfilled. We wait for him. Jesus will come again. He will ride here in triumph. He is not just coming in an abstract way, but personally for you. He loved you. He died for you. He rose for you. He forgave you. We wait like those who waited beforehand. We put our hope in him.
There are three promises he made on the cross that also apply to you. When he said, “forgive them,” it was for you. When he said, “It is finished,” it was for you. When he said, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” it was for you. He enters in on a donkey to ride in and win. Let’s celebrate this together and learn to wait well. “Lord, stir up our hearts so that we don’t get lazy, sloppy, and remain faithful till the end.” Jesus has granted your forgiveness. He comes to you lowly, using quiet words to love you.
Therefore we don’t have to fear the end of our lives or the lives of others. We cry out, “Hosanna, save us now!” Rejoice. Jesus rode in for you. He went to the cross for you. Jesus rose for you. Jesus washed you in baptism and gives you life. Have joy in this life. He is coming again. He is for you. Nothing can be against you.