Lesson 65

Hosanna in the Highest

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the King of Israel!"
John 12:13 (New International Version)

When it was nearing the end of Jesus’ ministry he visited his good friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, in Bethany. (This was the same Lazarus whom Jesus had awakened from the sleep of death). He had often been a guest in their home and had been a blessing to them.

To express her appreciation, Mary took an alabaster box of a very expensive ointment (perfume) and poured it on Jesus’ head and on his feet, wiping them with her hair. A wonderful fragrance filled the room. The alabaster box represented our hearts, and the sweet perfume represented good wishes, kindness and love toward all, and especially to Christ and the church.

The disciple Judas criticized Mary. He suggested the perfume be sold and the money given to the poor. However, Jesus was pleased with Mary’s token of love and devotion, and said it was an anointing for his burial. He knew that not many days would pass before he would be taken from them and it would be too late to give him any earthly gift.

The next day he sent for a donkey and rode into Jerusalem, as was the custom of Israel’s kings. The multitude of people hailed him as the Messiah (Savior). They scattered clothing and palm branches before him as they shouted: "Hosanna to the son of David. . . . Hosanna in the highest" (Matthew 21:9). Hosanna means praise, joy, and gratitude—similar to Hallelujah.

The Pharisees were very unhappy about the attention being given to Jesus and told him to stop the people from shouting. Jesus replied that they were fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 and if they did not shout the very stones would cry out!

The people thought Jesus would become a great earthly king who would destroy their enemies and they would no longer have to serve the Roman government.

But Jesus wept over the city. He knew his kingdom would not begin at that time and that the people would be sorely disappointed and many would be angry, so angry they would soon be clamoring for his death!

He went to the temple and saw merchants selling doves for sacrifices. The noise and bargaining were not like a place of prayer should be. There were huge profits being made from the market booths which went to enrich the family of the high priest. Jesus was greatly offended and drove the money changers out of the temple.

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