On this eve of Palm Sunday, the annual cry comes to mind: Hosanna!
And let all Israel and New/Current-Day-Spiritual Israel know this: “Hosanna” was not originally a word of praise. Nor should it give us the idea of some vague, happy, Jewish or Christianese, ecstatic delirium. It doesn’t mean “praise God” or “praise Jesus.” Rather, it is a word of prayer. It means “Save us, Lord.”
On the other hand, the “definition” below represents the common understanding. What we see in the following starts well but is followed by a baseless excursion:
“Hosanna” (Greek transcription: hōsanna) is the cry of praise or adoration shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! It is used in the same way in Christian praise.
Yes, there is a truth in the first sentence. And I’m told there had been some evolution of the word by Jesus’ time, so that the original connotation of the demand or prayer to save had become a “less agitated” expression of homage, recognizing a leader orally. But the final expression — “Christian praise” — sends one into “contemporary contexts” that can use language pretty carelessly. “Christian praise” has indeed appropriated the word “hosanna,” but it has misappropriated it, robbing it of its meaning and making it into something it wasn’t. To recognize Jesus as Messiah and to ask Him to deliver is not the same as crying out to Him in adoration or “contemporary worship.”
We still need the Lord to save us — from ourselves, from our misery, from our hopelessness, from our sinfulness, from our otherwise-assured destiny. “Hosanna” is a word for us today.