By Nick Batzig
A friend of mine was in Ireland during the World Cup in 2002. As she listened to the crowds cheering in the town where she was staying, she said, “I sometimes wonder what it would sound like if Christians praised Jesus for His redeeming glory like that.” That statement has stuck with me over the years for the simple reason that in Scripture, we are given an example of how believers ought to praise Jesus—namely, in the record of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Zechariah had prophesied of the promised Redeemer, when he said:
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem!
Look, your King is coming to you;
he is righteous and victorious,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
When this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, He was surrounded with shouts of praise and rejoicing. The people who went before Him and those who followed recognized that He was the long-awaited Son of David. And so, they cried out accordingly,
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom
of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:9–10).
The contrast between the visible circumstances and the shouts of praise are striking. There was no outward pomp to encourage such a joyful reception. As Zechariah had foretold, Jesus was “humble and riding on a donkey.” The throngs crowding around Him were fisherman and tradespeople. Yet, they saw something that their religious leaders could not see. They saw the incarnate Son of God coming “righteous and victorious,” and they praised God for sending the long-expected Messiah.
Though I grew up in churches that faithfully preached God’s Word, I only remember one sermon preached when I was a very young boy. A minister in a Presbyterian church was preaching on the triumphal entry, and he said emphatically, “This is God sitting on the donkey!” The people singing out, “Hosanna!” recognized something in the One who sat on the donkey.
Sadly, in a matter of days, the shouts of praise would be drowned out by cries for the blood of the Son of God. Instead of “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:10), the crowds would cry, ‘Crucify him!” (Mark 15:13). Instead of “Blessed is the coming kingdom,” the people would cry, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). But in the rejection of this King, God worked to forever fill the hearts of His people with joy. He rode into Jerusalem in order to hang on the cross for our sins. There is nothing that ought to stir our hearts more than to know that the King who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, shed His blood for our eternal redemption and reconciliation to God. This means we have every reason to constantly shout, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”