Summary: Do you know what you are singing this day? Or are you like the crowds on Palm Sunday?
Have you ever found yourself singing a song, but really, you had no idea what you were singing? I was a teacher at a high school for a year, and as I walked down the hallway one morning I could hear one of my students singing a song. It was a song I had just read about the day before. The melody was good, but the words glorified violence and immorality – this song was about as bad as you could get. And so I asked this student, “Do you know what you are singing?” And she had no idea. The melody was good, but the words that were coming out of her mouth - she wasn’t paying attention to them. And after she realized what she was singing, she felt a sense of embarrassment.
I think a similar thing happens in church. People sing hymns. Sometimes they like the melodies. But really, I wonder how many people really know what they are singing. It happened on Palm Sunday, many years ago. People were singing a song as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. “Hosanna!” they said. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” These people were shouting and singing at the top of their lungs. But I wonder how many of them actually understood what they were singing. I wonder how many of them knew this person they were singing to.
The word “Hosanna” means “Lord, save us!” Were these people asking Jesus to save them? Not in a spiritual way. You see, these people thought that Jesus was coming to save them from the Roman government. Finally, someone had arrived, who will lead a rebellion against the Roman regime that is oppressing us! He comes in the name of the Lord! And the kingdom they were looking forward to - that was an earthly kingdom – freedom from the Romans! They wanted Jesus to bring things back to the way they were when David was king. Hosanna in the highest to Jesus!
These people did not understand what they were singing, or whom they were singing to. These words fit Jesus, but not in a political way. Jesus was the Lord God, and he had come to save them, and so the word “hosanna” works. He was coming in the name of his Heavenly Father, who had sent him into the world. And he was going to establish a kingdom, but not a physical one. Jesus had come to establish spiritual peace – peace between you and God, peace that comes from having a clear conscience, peace in your heart – that is the kind of peace Jesus had come to establish. These people had no idea who Jesus really was, or what he was going to do for them.
How do we know that? Look at how these same people treated Jesus just five days later. Just five days later, instead of shouting “Hosanna,” they shouted “Crucify him.” Instead of welcoming him, they mocked Jesus’ claim to be king, as they watched him hang from a cross. I wonder what Jesus thought as he listened to all these people who were shouting “hosanna,” and most of them really did not know him at all. When these people eventually died and met Jesus face to face, I wonder if he asked them, “Why did you sing to me, and then mock me? Why did you sing to me, and then crucify me?”