Shout Hosanna! Palm Sunday Sermon 2022
A Palm Sunday sermon about Luke 19:28-40. April 10, 2022
Shouting on Palm Sunday
As a kid in the Palm Sunday processionals, the part I liked the best was that we got to shout Hosanna. We got to shout in the sanctuary! We got to use our outside voices in the room where they always told you to be quiet. Shouting Hosanna! It felt a little naughty but so gratifying.
We got to shout because that’s what the disciples did. As Jesus came down the path from the Mount of Olives, Luke tells us that “the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,…”
That is, they shouted. Sometimes things are so good, that you just burst forth with a Yes! Your team scores, your kid gets into college, you get promoted, and your kid gets a job and moves out of the house!
Sometimes you have to let that joy within you bust out. Psychologists say that it’s healthy and good for you. That’s what happened with the crowd of disciples on Palm Sunday. The text says they shouted joyfully for all the deeds of power that they had seen in Jesus.
What were these deeds of power they had seen in Jesus?
They had to shout because they had seen his miracles. They saw the lame walk, the blind see, and people in spiritual prisons set free. Usually, people who had certain diseases, like leprosy, were excluded from social gatherings including worship. They were quarantined, pushed away. When Jesus healed them, they got back not only their health, they were restored back into their communities. Family members, and friends, were reunited, so naturally, they had to shout.
They had seen the power of courage in Jesus. He crossed over social boundaries no matter what others might think. They saw him eat with despised people—tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes. It was a symbol of radical acceptance of them and affirmation of God’s care for them.
They were shouting about amazing deeds of power—like when Jesus could have cast the first stone at a woman caught in adultery but laid it down and showed mercy instead. Real power is in being gracious, merciful, not condemning, and judgmental.
They had seen the amazing deeds of power of Jesus not dominating others, telling them what to think, but by inviting them to look within themselves, and go on a spiritual exploration to discern for themselves what is best for them that honors God and neighbor.
They had to shout because they had seen Jesus make an important synagogue ruler with an urgent need to wait while he tended to a hemorrhaging woman, an indication that human need trumps status.
They saw him bring a child into the center of a men’s only circle and heard him say that they must become as children if they wanted to enter the kingdom of God.
They had experienced the power of Jesus’ teachings—especially his stories. They had seen in their mind’s eye the story pictures of the parables he told and could imagine a God not as a spiteful white-bearded grump in the sky but more like a mother hen stretching out her wings to protect her brood, a woman on her knees searching for a lost coin, a father who hikes up his robe, bearing his ankles running across a field to welcome home the prodigal son. Their imaginations were unlocked to see God not as another tyrant, but as a friend, and companion, who is merciful, forgiving, and kind.
They had seen him raise a little girl and Lazarus from the dead a symbol that maybe that there could be new life for them, too in this life, and that God would take care of us on the other side of it, too.
They had to shout because, through Jesus, they caught a glimpse of the kingdom of God on earth. A kingdom where people care about one another, not just themselves, a kingdom where people forgive and serve, and support each other. They had to shout because when he fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes, Jesus had given them a vision where everyone shared what they had and would find enough to meet their daily needs. They believed in that kingdom where the rich didn’t trample on the rights of the poor. They had to shout because his kingdom would put an end to the spirals of revenge and an eye for an eye philosophy. They had to shout because he could imagine a society that wasn’t so divided and hateful, but one where you could even pray for your enemy and do good to those who mean to do you harm. They could see a new standard, the Golden Rule, where you treat others as you want to be treated.
I wonder if what you have seen and heard is enough to make you shout Hosanna this morning.
If you’ve seen God’s deeds of power in your life, give me a Hosanna:
- If you’ve seen people having faith to meet the end of their life at peace and unafraid because they believe that they rest in God’s hands.
- If you’ve experienced the power of someone forgiving you of your wrongs
- Experienced the release of forgiving someone else’s wrongs
- Have seen the relief in someone’s eyes when you showed up to help
- Have had a prayer answered
- Have felt calm to get you through
- Felt the support of your church community when you are going through a hard time
- Appreciate church-related hospitals and colleges and service agencies that reach out to those in need.
- Have had someone take you under their wing and be gracious to you because they have been inspired by the story of Jesus.
Palm Sunday evaluates our allegiances
When Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives on that colt, the people recognized this as the prophesied symbolic ride that the Messiah would take. Furthermore, as ancient people, they would have known that riding a donkey was a symbol of a king who comes in peace, not violence.
Those disciples, according to Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, would have known that Pontius Pilate was riding into Jerusalem on the other side of the city with a Roman legion, adorned with chariots and horses and weapons of war threatening violence. They would have understood that the two processionals represented a choice for the kind of world you want to see. Do you want Pilate’s world? One of empire, domination, subjugation of the poor, division and separation of people, hatred amongst groups to keep them from coming after the real source of their problems. Do you want that spiteful, revengeful, look out only for yourself world, or do you want to embrace Jesus’ vision?
Their choice is always our choice. Where do we side? Selfishness, generosity, kindness, looking out for those who can’t do for themselves?
The shouts of the disciples indicated where their true allegiance lay—in Jesus’ vision of a new way of living in the world.
What is this word, Hosanna? The word hosanna is more than “yay” like something you’d shout at a football game. It does carry a sense of jubilation, but it also means save us—now! The people were ready for change. They wanted to be saved from the lives they knew to find a better life.
Will you be part of the crowd that shouts Hosanna?
We need a world where people are held accountable—
Shout hosanna for a world where people seek to serve in humility, a sense of their own falleness and need of grace.
Shout hosanna for a belief that no matter how bad this world gets, there is still something God can do. Shout Hosanna if you believe God opens doors no one can shut, that God pours out blessings, that if you fall, God will pick you up and turn you around.
Shout hosanna for doing your part. Believing that all the magic we need is within us, and among us, the power of people who belong to something greater in their hearts. Shout hosanna!