Today we remember the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem one week before He would be handed over to evil men to be crucified. The people cried hosannas as He rode in on the foal of a donkey, and they cast their coats and palm branches onto the road for the foal to walk on. But as they cried hosannas, they did not understand what they were saying. They spoke in the passions of their darkened minds, just as our culture so often does. We use words without understanding the gravity of their meaning, and this cry of hosanna was just such a word for those who welcomed Christ into Jerusalem.
Hosanna is most often used as a declaration of praise and adoration, but it has a much deeper meaning, and in this case, a rather ironic meaning. Hosanna is an abbreviation of the Hebrew phrase hosi a-nna, meaning "save, we pray." We see it used in passages such as Psalm 118:25: "Save us, we pray, O LORD!"
The throngs that welcomed Christ into Jerusalem were not simply chanting His praises, they were crying out for salvation. Would He deliver them? We know that He granted their plea, but not in the manner they expected. He did not rise up and take His rightful place on the palace throne, nor did He seek to overthrow the Roman stronghold in Israel. No, He rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey to challenge a far greater enemy. Five days later He would breathe His last upon a criminal's cross, and in three days He would rise from the grave triumphant, not over men, but over sin and death and Satan. Hosanna, we cry today, and may it not be in vain, for He has provided the promised salvation!