Hosanna (Save Us Now)
But Jesus answered,
“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
An unwelcome thought invaded my quietude on Sunday as I listened to the sermon: You know those early disciples—the ones who shouted praise and swung palm branches to hail Jesus as their King? Those same disciples who five days later clamored for His crucifixion?
Yeah. Those disciples could have been me.
Six hundred years with no ruler to call their own. Centuries of persecution, poverty, misery, and derision. Waiting, waiting, waiting for their Champion.
One year a candidate appears on the scene. They watch for awhile. They listen. They hold their breath. They dare to hope—a little. And, finally, as truth slowly settles in, they let down their guard. Emotions burst, joy tumbles out, and the streets clog with cloaks and kicked-up dust.
He is here! He is saving us now! No more careful guarding of our emotions! It’s party time, and no one is going to stop us!
Except that some try.
“Jesus,” they cry, “Make these out-of-control, grossly misguided people KNOCK IT OFF!”
Telling Jesus what to do. Never a good idea.
“I tell YOU, if these become quiet, the stones will cry out!”
I thought about this on Sunday. I mean, it’s one thing for trees to clap their hands, Leviathan to churn seas into a cauldron, and stars to trumpet the majesty of our God. But stones?
Well, yes, stones. Because God will use anything in all of creation to bring Himself glory, even leaden lumps of granite.
But these people, in this moment, are His instruments of choice. They do not become quiet. Resistance fuels elation as voices rise to fever pitch. These worshipers get it exactly right.
And yet … five days later, this would-be Savior of the moment finds Himself captured, chastened, and crushed. This is no King! Hope’s joy recedes; hell’s fury runs riot.
These worshipers, who five days earlier nailed the art of worship, now nail the object of their worship to a cross. He did not save us now!
Oh, but friends, He is saving us now! If there was ever an occasion to worship, it is now, as this God-Man chooses to remain on the cross, forsaken by His Father, making a way not only for the rabble at His feet but for the rest of us for all eternity.
Sunday morning, I saw myself in these crowds, and I was ashamed. How often do I worship my King for what I think He is doing and, when He shows me an altogether different plan, my praise peters out?
- A few months of good health, and I thank Him profusely; my third nasty cold in just as many months, and I whine.
- My book is awarded, and my faith skyrockets; book sales languish, and my faith subsides.
- Doors crack open, and my heart pounds with anticipation; doors creak shut, and my heart pounds with apprehension.
Do I ever stop to think that when this King of my life fails to do what I think He’s doing, it’s because He’s setting His face like flint to accomplish what’s best for me? Or that every hope I have for myself and for my loved ones pales in comparison to the hopes He has for us?
Sunday morning made me stop and think. I’m thinking still.
This Easter, like those crowds on Palm Sunday, I want my praise to be exactly right. But unlike those crowds—Oh Lord, please help me—may it be for exactly the right reason.
I don’t want any stones taking my place!
I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives
Let my song join the one that never ends …
Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives
Every fear is gone
I know He holds my life, my future in His hands
(Matt Maher, with shout-out to Bill and Gloria Gaither)
Lifting my voice next to yours,