On Palm Sunday the crowds expected Jesus to save them.


When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on the first Palm Sunday, the crowds were singing from Psalm 118 while waving palm fonds and laying their clothes on the road before him.


Psalm 118 is a psalm for the Passover of Israel. It was a psalm for pilgrims coming to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. It was a song that would have been on everyone’s mind on that Palm Sunday. What is amazing is that they applied the words of the psalm to Jesus!


Jesus is entering Jerusalem on the Sunday before the Passover. And the people cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!" – from Psalm 118: 25 – 26.


The word “Hosanna” that they sang is the Hebrew word for “save” or “save now”. That is exactly what we find in verse 25 of Psalm 118 – It says, “Save now, I pray, O LORD,” literally, “Hosanna, O LORD”. The psalmist in verse 25 is calling the LORD God to save him!


The Jerusalem crowds applied these words to Jesus. Verse 25 instead says, “Save now, I pray, O LORD.” In the rest of the Psalm the poet proclaims God’s love as seen in his mighty deeds of salvation, experienced by his people over many ages. But verse 25 looks forward to some future deliverance.


The Jews were under Roman occupation, even though they were living in the Promised Land. The nation of Israel as a political entity did not exist. And so the people were eagerly awaiting the Messiah, whom they hoped would restore the kingdom of David and they expected it to be a political earthly kingdom.


Jesus deliberately came into Jerusalem to fulfil the words written in Zechariah 9: 9 – 10:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.

His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the ends of the earth.


But did the marching crowd remember that the prophet said that under this King’s rule the war horses of Ephraim (Israel) will be taken away and their bows would be broken? No, because they craved a political and military hero, they quoted the prophecy out of context. They only took from it what suited their own whims and desires.


This is why the crowds also echoed verse 26 of the psalm as they said “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” Their songs and exited procession show that they were hoping that Jesus was the Messiah that would break the back of a imperialistic oppressor.


And indeed Jesus was the Messiah and is the Christ, but not in the way that they thought. He was indeed the blessed One who came in the name of the Lord. He would bring salvation and deliverance to God’s people. He would overcome their enemies – sin and death.


He would bring a restored kingdom, but a kingdom that was better than the old kingdom in the earthly Promised Land. He would bring an eternal, heavenly kingdom!


Jesus was their saviour and messiah, but not the kind they were thinking of. And so, ironically, the crowds spoke the truth. They rightly chose this psalm and applied it to Jesus. Yet, in just a few days, the same crowds would no longer be praising Jesus as they did during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but instead they would be crying out to crucify him!


This irony comes to a climax at the cross of Jesus. Psalm 118 ends with a call for a festival sacrifice. Jesus is this sacrifice. He is this paschal lamb. Although on Palm Sunday they cried to Jesus, “Save!”, “Save!”, soon they would cry out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And when they cried out to crucify him, they are basically calling out the words of verse 27, “Bind the sacrifice!” Bring on the festival sacrifice! Prepare the paschal lamb! Crucify him!


When we sing our Hosanna’s on Palm Sunday, we hail the One, our eternal King and Lord, who came to save, by giving his life – by being the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world!


Hosanna! Save us, oh crucified, risen Lord!

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!



Palm Sunday song that can be sung during the entry procession carrying palm fonds - by the Sunday School:

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!

Lord, we lift up your Name,

with hearts full of praise;

be exalted oh Lord our God!

Hosanna in the highest.


Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!

Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!

Lord, we lift up your Name,

with hearts full of praise;

be exalted oh Lord our God!

Glory to the King of kings.

Songs of fellowship 189.