I came to the church building today. Again, an empty sanctuary. I sang the best I could alone. I sang loudly this morning – much louder than normal. There were no people around to hear me. I could sing slightly out of tune without shame. It felt good. You should try it sometime. Find a big empty space and sing to God for all you are worth. I think God likes this. I imagine he also would like it if we did it together.
It is Palm Sunday. If Jesus were to ride into town on a donkey’s colt today, it would be a pretty quiet ride. His church is hiding. But never mind.
Maybe it wouldn’t be a quiet ride. There always will be some who will cry out, “Hosanna!” The little children cried out in the temple, after Jesus cleared out the money-changers and the guys who were selling pigeons and after Jesus started healing the blind and lame in the temple. The kids cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” That’s part of our Gospel of Matthew reading today, in chapter 21.
“Hosanna” means “O Lord, save us.” And the kids were saying that to Jesus. Basically, they were proclaiming Jesus as the king – as the messianic king, who had come to save Israel from its enemies. Saying “Hosanna” was kind of like saying, “Hail to the king!” When Jesus was riding into Jerusalem, crowds surrounded him crying out “Hosanna.” Then, in the temple, it was the kids – “O Lord, save us.”
And again, it is the kids who emerge at the foreground the Gospel, doing the right thing. Jesus referenced Psalm 8, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” And this is where my mind settled as I prayed through this passage.
I saw a newborn baby this week, snuggled up against his mother. He was wrinkly and small – and very quiet. Sleeping, I think. Out of his mouth comes praise – comes “Hosannas”? Are the squeaks and squawks of such a little one actually praises for Jesus? I suppose so.
Psalm 8 is a cosmic psalm. It talks about big things – the majesty of God’s glory, the breadth of the earth, the heavens, the moon and stars. And yet, it is out of the mouth of babies and infants where the strength of God emerges. Helpless ones unknowingly utter the good news. Maybe it is in the very newness of life, in the epitome of weakness, where God thought it made the most sense to have the gospel emerge.
Because we’re all weak. We’re all helpless. We’re all ignorant. To be Christians, we must come to terms with that. We can’t actually be Christians UNLESS we come to terms with that. When we utter praise to Jesus, we can only utter it as people who know they are both helpless and ignorant.
But we also utter our praise to Jesus as kids – infants – with our whole lives in front of us and as ones who are fully dependent on Another. And we can’t help but praise Him. We don’t think it through. We just speak our Hosannas to the Son of David – come what may.
I hope you are enjoying your reading of Matthew’s Gospel as much as I am. I’d love to hear your own thoughts. God bless!