One of thousands of beautiful groves of palm trees in the country of Israel!
Perhaps you have sung songs with the words “Hosanna” or “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord” contained in them…there are a number of these songs that are sung in our churches today. They are used in our praise and worship to bless the Lord and exalt His Name! Do you know where these phrases originated?
Not long ago my husband and I were privileged to visit the country of Israel for ten days and tour many of the historic sites where God manifested His power to the children of Israel, and where Jesus walked, taught and performed many miracles over 2,000 years ago! One of the streets on which we walked was believed to have been the very road that Jesus traversed riding on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem with the crowds waving palm branches, throwing their cloaks in the road before Him and bestowing the greatest honor upon Him. We read of this event in the Gospel of Mark 11:1-10, where verses 7-10 read, They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord; blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the Highest!” (NASB)
John 12:12 & 13 recounts the story in a similar way: On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast (the Feast of the Passover was just five days away), when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” (NASB)
Here is a photo my husband took a few weeks ago when we walked this very road from the Mount of Olives down into Jerusalem, a very steep incline! I had such a feeling of awe, knowing that my Savior had no doubt ridden a donkey down this same path, hearing words of adulation and praise from the people who had observed His miracles and were sure He was their long-promised Messiah.
Alas, the praise and honor they were giving to Jesus (Yeshua, in Hebrew) did not last long! Five days later, after observing the Passover meal (the Last Supper as we call it) with His disciples in the upper room, Jesus walked in the same direction to the Mount of Olives on that very road…Mark 14:26 says, After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. On the way, at the base of the mountain, is a beautiful garden called Gethsemane, which we also visited. Verse 32 says, They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” The chapter then goes on to detail His great agony as He prayed throughout the evening prior to His arrest, knowing full well what awaited Him in the coming hours.
Here is a portion of the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane as it looks today. It is still a very sacred and moving place to visit. To me, the irony of the whole story is that as you read further on in Mark 14, in three places Jesus asks His disciples to pray with him and three times He comes back to find them sleeping. Only a few days earlier, they had been with Him shouting out “Hosanna!” in praise to their King, but when He asked them to pray with Him for a few hours, they were unable to stay awake. Instead of being critical of the disciples, I ask myself, “Can I pray when the Lord asks me to intercede for someone? Can I crucify my flesh and stay awake long enough to pray until the burden is lifted and I know that I am victorious in the midst of the situation or crisis?” Jesus understood our humanity and fleshly inadequacy when He spoke to His disciples, not in an angry manner, but as a father would lovingly correct a child. He told them in verse 38, Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (NASB)
So, this Sunday as you wave palms branches and sing “Hosanna to the King of Kings!”, may you be aware not only of His great love for you, but of the fact that Jesus experienced the pain of rejection, of people turning their backs on Him, and of those closest to Him being unable to “stay the course” when He needed them most. Let His healing balm cleanse and soothe your deepest feelings of rejection and hurt, knowing that He experienced it all before we were even born, and now intercedes for us at the right hand of the Throne of God! Hosanna! Praise be to God!