Save, Please!

By James Randall Robison Published on March 31, 2024

Today we celebrate Easter, the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. For His contemporaries, it marked a dramatic turn of events.

One week earlier, this controversial prophet had entered Jerusalem to much fanfare. Palm branches, often used to greet kings and welcome returning military conquerors, swirled in the air as Jesus entered the holy city in preparation for the sacred Jewish holiday of Passover. People shouted “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” as Jesus passed by.

But just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, taken before the Jewish and Roman authorities, accused of crimes and sins worthy of death, mocked, beaten, and finally killed in the most humiliating way ever devised. Many of the same people who had celebrated His arrival later demanded His crucifixion. What happened?

“Hosanna,” a Call to Be Saved

The word “hosanna” is derived from the Hebrew phrase hoshi’a na, which literally means “save, please.” During Jesus’s life, the Israelites suffered under the rule of Rome while clinging to ancient prophesies about a messiah who would free them from oppression. Jesus seemed a strong candidate for that role. He confounded the wise with His intellect. He walked among the common people. He broke bread with sinners. And most of all, He performed miracles that no ordinary man could achieve. Surely, He was the one to rid them of the Romans and put the self-righteous Jewish leaders who also made the common people’s lives more difficult in their place. Save us, please! Hosanna!

Then things turned. Jesus didn’t put up a fight when arrested. He didn’t browbeat His accusers with impressive arguments. He didn’t kick the Roman authorities out of the sacred city. He didn’t call down fire from Heaven to burn up his enemies. He didn’t even speak much in His own defense! No, this man who created such great expectations did nothing as Roman soldiers scourged His back, jammed thorns into His head, and forced Him to carry a crude wooden cross to the hill of shame. Then He died like every other criminal executed in this manner. What a disappointment!

“My Kingdom Is Not of This World”

It is interesting that Jesus gave the most direct explanation to the Pilate for His alleged crimes of blasphemy, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). Jesus had already stood before the high priests of Israel, but only the Roman governor heard this profound, yet cryptic, truth. But he didn’t understand it. At least, not yet.

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Not until the resurrection did even Jesus’s closest followers understand. Once they did, they changed the world.

But many Jews, to this day, still haven’t received their long-promised Savior. Why? There are many explanations — pride, bad theology, deception — but I believe perhaps the biggest reason at the time was simply that Jesus did not fulfill their expectations and desires. Rome maintained the governing authority. Evil people still went unpunished. The righteous still suffered.

In hindsight, we gain a clearer picture of Jesus’s accomplishments. He conquered sin and death. He provided salvation for us, both individually and collectively. He established His kingdom in our midst. Yet many still reject Him because He does not conform to their expectations and desires.

As we remember the momentous events of that world-changing Holy Week, let us lay down our demands as we cry, “Save, please,” and allow Christ to complete His good and perfect work in his way.

Salvation, if we will surrender to it, is here.

 

James Randall Robison is a writer, producer, and host for the television program LIFE Today.

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