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I am beginning these next two blogs earlier than I might normally. We are busy right now. Elaine has a speaking engagement and I, of course, have responsibilities at the church we serve as interim. Not to mention sermons and work with the foundation that I am a part of. In the midst of this, we are traveling. Some very dear friends have gifted us time in Tennessee for a week. We just couldn't pass up this opportunity to stay in their beautiful cabin. Then enjoy all of the surrounding areas and yes,play a round of golf. So over the next couple of weeks, I want to be sure that these blogs are ready to post during this very special season of the year.

Sunday will be Palm Sunday and in John 12:13 we read that-

“They took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!”

I was born in Tampa, FL, and lived in the city until I was 10 when our parents built a house in Brandon and we moved. Even after the move, for a time, we continued to attend the church we had grown up in and I mean we as in my sister Karen and I. The church was Palm Avenue Baptist Church located at the corner of Palm Avenue and Florida Avenue. It was a great church and we both were saved and baptized there as kids. The church called the bulletin "The Palm Leaf" and being the literalist that I have a tendency to be, I thought it was because of the palm branches as noted in John 12. You see I had this thought around Easter time. One day it dawned on me, wait the church is Palm Avenue and that is the name of the street it is on so Palm Avenue and the Palm Leaf made perfect sense to me. Thanks for letting me take you down memory lane. It was fun for me and I hope not distracting for you.

When we read this in John and other accounts in Scripture regarding Jesus' coming into Jerusalem, it is often concluded to have been a time of celebration and excitement of His arrival. In many ways, it was just that but in a very real way it was not a celebration, it was an acknowledgment.

Reading their shouts of “Hosanna! causes us to think in that celebratory way as if they were shouting Hallelujah, to praise the Lord. However, that would not be totally accurate. There was a celebration of praise to the Lord. Hosanna however was a plea for salvation. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna”. Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

What we know today as we prepare to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend was actually just another first day of the week for those in Jerusalem. Life was going on in the most regular of ways. They were buying and selling items in the market, talking to friends, going to the Temple, they were doing life. By the way, life is the same today; we are doing things, going places, buying and selling, and even going to church.

For those in Jerusalem that day, what happened caused them to acknowledge something that they had not planned on as they had no idea Jesus was coming that day. They knew of Him and possibly had even seen Him and actually heard Him speak. On a hillside when He spoke and what it is to be blessed. In the city center when He was asked by the religious leaders of the day about stoning a woman caught in the act of adultery. They might have even been by the river Jordan a few years earlier when John the Baptist was preaching repentance and he baptized Jesus. You know when the voice was heard from Heaven that He was God's Son and He was pleased with Him.

Here in John’s account, it says in John 12:16-18 ESV

16 “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.

18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

So as Jesus enters the city that shout Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes…

They were as the word blessed expresses: praising, speaking well of with ascriptions of thanksgiving of Jesus that day. Asking for salvation, requesting to be saved by Him, with shouts of Hosanna.

It was not going to come that day the way they might have expected it. They had heard a lot of what He had said and they knew enough about the prophecy of a Messiah to think He might be the One. With that, as we all often do, they added things to what they thought they knew. That they were oppressed by Rome and that Messiah would set them free. They expected a King to destroy the Romans and establish His Kingdom providing them with the freedom they so desperately desired. So with that in mind they saw Him entering and acknowledged Him-

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!”

As the week went on things would change dramatically and many of those who called out for The King of Israel to save them would be the very ones to call for Him to be crucified. Salvation doesn’t come the way we might think-

1) It’s not because we deserve it

Romans 3:23

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;

2) It’s not because we earn it

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3) It’s not because we are sinless

Romans 5:8

God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

4) It's not because we can do it ourselves because salvation only comes God’s way

Romans 10:9-10

9 if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Romans 10:13

13 ...“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

We hope you have a wonderful and reflective Week of Passion.

In God's Grace,

Elbert Nasworthy

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