Hope for Living: Saving means more than a lift from circumstance

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Ethan Maple is lead pastor of Mt. Comfort Church.

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

— Mark 11:9-10

These words were shouted by the crowds as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that donkey to the scene of waving palm branches and a path cleared for Him by cloaks on the ground.

This Palm Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry as He journeys towards the cross and tomb in the coming days, a tomb that would ultimately be found empty as we celebrate His resurrection on Easter morning.

“Hosanna” is a unique word, found only a handful times throughout Scripture. Derived from a Hebrew word, it means “save us.”

The people of Israel, God’s people, were crying out to this Messiah to save them. They were swept up in this moment, professing a hope and a faith that would dissipate as the week progressed.

When the Israelites, trapped in the echo chamber of past prophets and under Roman rule, saw Jesus as the promised Messiah, they expected Him to save them, restoring David’s throne and a kingdom that represented their rightful place among humanity as God’s chosen people.

While their shouts of praise were warranted, their expectations were skewed by generations of assumptions. Jesus did not come to save them from their physical situation, but to provide a spiritual reckoning that could (and for many would) lead to salvation.

When our expectations aren’t being met and our hope begins to waver, the “save us” from Sunday becomes Friday’s “crucify him.” Let’s be honest, God’s people really haven’t changed that much. Our day-to-day difficulties consume our energy; often our prayers are lifted toward that same donkey-riding Messiah to “save us” from our worldly circumstance.

While Rome may not be ruling over us, we have been subjugated by our health issues, financial issues, relationship issues and beyond. We cry out our own “Hosanna!” in hopes that God would issue us a reprieve from our struggles and retore us to a place of privilege.

However, when those woes seem endless and darkness becomes consuming, we abandon our “Hosanna!” Our hope of something better shatters because the circumstance from which we believe we need saving continues.

Whether we realize it or not, Jesus is indeed saving us. He saves us, not from the situation in which we endure, but from ourselves and the spiritual enslavement of sin. Jesus doesn’t promise “our” kingdom to come, some utopian idea of life. Instead, He invites us to embrace His Kingdom, the source and substance of joy beyond our worldly place.

This is the abundant joy God desires for you, a joy that silences the storms of this world and allows us to rest in the peace the surpasses all knowledge. The more we submit ourselves to Jesus, the more joy we can experience. The more we allow this world to define us, the more chaos we should expect.

Let us continue to praise Him and cry out “Hosanna!”, but we mustn’t misplace the eternal work of our Savior. After all, on this side of resurrection and through our faith, we don’t have to plead for Jesus to save us, because He already has. Don’t let the world convince you otherwise.

Ethan Maple is lead pastor of Mt. Comfort Church. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.