“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” -Luke 19:41
Throughout the pages of Scripture, we encounter a repeated tension between God and creation. Humanity is constantly wrestling with God, struggling for control while resisting trust and surrender.
In Genesis, Jacob wrestles with an angel of God all night.
In Exodus, Moses struggles to trust God at the burning bush.
In Numbers, the ten spies fight against God’s provision in the Promised Land.
In 1 Samuel, the people don’t want to follow God; they want to follow a human king.
In 2 Kings, a man named Naaman wants to be healed, but he doesn’t want the healing to come via a dirty river.
I love how Timothy Keller describes Naaman’s struggle with God, representative of the rest of us.
“The God of the Bible is not like that. Namaan is after a tame God, but this is a wild God.”
Some of us see God as controllable. We did our part. We were a good person. We gave money away. We served our church. We provided for our family. We worked hard. We even went on a mission trip! Isn’t God now obligated to bless us, show up for us, or get on board with our agenda?
In a word - No.
This pattern of resistance is continued in the Palm Sunday plotline. The people of Jerusalem are going bananas over the arrival of Jesus. Treating him as a conquering war hero, they receive him with cries of “Hosanna,” which means more than we think it means.
When we hear “Hosanna!”, we often think of words like “praise, joy, or adoration.” We think of it as a sign of worship and honor. But the true meaning is deeper and wider still.
, John Piper noted, “if you look in a Greek dictionary to find what (Hosanna) means, you know what you find? You find that it is really not originally a Greek word after all. The men who wrote the New Testament in Greek did the same thing to a Hebrew word that our English translators did to the Greek word: they just used Greek letters to make the sound of a Hebrew phrase…that Hebrew phrase is found one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, "Save, please!" It is a cry to God for help. Like when somebody pushes you off the diving board before you can swim and you come up hollering: "Help, save me . . . Hoshiya na!”
The people of Jerusalem were praising Jesus, but they were also crying out for help. They were pleading with Jesus for release from their Roman overlords. There’s only one problem. If this prayer of deliverance is the very one Jesus came to answer, why is He weeping?
In the two passages at the top, we see Jesus weeping because he knows Jerusalem is unwilling to accept Him as the Messiah He truly is, not the Messiah they want Him to be. He is weeping because they cannot see the way Jesus is making for them to find peace - it remains hidden from their eyes.
How many times has the work Jesus is doing remained hidden from our eyes? How many times have we been unwilling to accept Jesus on His terms, not our own?
My most profound season of burnout came because of my resistance to Jesus. Seven years ago, I found myself exhausted on every level. I had no desire to pray or read the Bible. When I opened my computer to write a sermon, the cursor would mockingly blink at me. Every word felt like a battle and my sense of vision for the future was completely dark. My ability to lead others diminished. I’ve never felt more distant from God’s presence.
One summer morning, I snuck away to a quiet place and began to pour out my emotions into a journal. I pulled open a book which had been profoundly meaningful in a different life season. As I opened the pages and began to read, I cried, feeling as if the words of this author were the very words of Jesus speaking directly to me.
It was if He were saying, “You’ve been trying achieve My love and favor, when you can only receive those things in surrender. You’re trying to my Father’s work in your own power and strength. You’re more concerned about doing things for me, rather than simply being with Me. You wanted to prove your worth, while I wanted you to embrace your need. You want to hold on to your strength, but I will only give you My strength when you embrace your weakness.
Like the people on Palm Sunday, I was wrestling with God and my resistance kept me from His blessings.
This Palm Sunday, I wonder, “What does Jesus want to do for you? What does He want to do in you?”
Is it possible that you’ve been resisting the very work Jesus is doing because it doesn’t match your agenda?
Today, when you cry Hosanna in praise and adoration, may you also cry “Help, save me.” May you embrace His deliverance - not on your terms, but on His.
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He is the creator of the Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at .