Words have meaning

In my career, I work with words a lot. They always take on a meaning and that is often based on the perception of the recipient. It is important to understand what you are talking about but also important to understand how you are being received.

In Bible study, I often take a minute or two to study words in difficult passages. I think it adds clarity and depth to scripture. You can’t translate languages literally and understand context. Words have meaning. Yesterday in small group, I ran into a word, unexpectedly, that opened up a new perception for me.

As we were discussing the Stages of the Cross, I shared the scripture about Palm Sunday (since it was Palm Sunday) and my wife mentioned a study she read years ago that explained the word “Hosanna.” For most of us, we think of “Hosanna” as a word of praise and give it little, if any, further thought. In Hebrew, it means “save” or “help.” In some instances in the Old Testament, it is used as a prayer and exclamation “save, now!”

So, as Jesus rode into the city on Palm Sunday, the crowd was doing more than praising Jesus. They were praising him but also begging and praying to be saved. In the feast holiday of Tabernacles, the final day is called Hoshana Rabbah (Great Hosanna) and is a day of supplication. In the liturgy for that day of prayer, a plea is made for a Messiah.

A little over 2000 years ago, God answered that prayer on the back of a donkey. Humanity screamed “Save us now!” God said “yes.”

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