Tag Archives: Easter




I always enjoy singing “Hosanna” at church. You’ve probably heard this beautiful song performed by the group Hillsong. Here’s an excerpt:

I see a near revival Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees We’re on our knees

Hosanna Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna Hosanna
Hosanna in the highest.**

When I sing this, the word Hosanna seems to encapsulate all the praise and adoration I can muster for the God who lives in the highest of Heaven.

While the word Hosanna sounds super-spiritual, I doubt many of us know what it means. That’s because Hosanna is a “transliteration.” Instead of translating it from the original Hebrew, we simply sound it out as it was originally spoken.

So what does Hosanna really mean? Are we even using it correctly?

The Meaning

It turns out, that’s a tricky question.

The word Hosanna is actually a combination of two Hebrew words: yasha (to deliver) and annah (Ah, now! I/we beseech you!). (See Strong’s 3467 and 0577.)

Both of those Hebrew words are used in Psalm 118:25-26:

“O LORD, do save [yasha], we beseech You [anna]; O LORD, we beseech You [anna], do send prosperity!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD” (Psalm 118:25-26 NAS).

The writer of this Psalm was begging God for salvation and prosperity. But what happens when we combine these two words into “Hosanna”?

Palm Sunday

The only time we find Hosanna in the Bible is during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday. (See Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12.) As Jesus rode into town on a young donkey, a large crowd met Him with great fanfare. As a sign of honor and subservience, they placed palm fronds and their own coats in the road. Then they began to shout:

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9b-10 NAS).

Sound familiar? It seems the Jews were quoting Psalm 118 on Palm Sunday. They cleverly captured the essence of verse 25 by combining the key words into three syllables: “Hosanna!” They tweaked verse 26 a bit, but we can identify the parallel language and imagery here in Mark 11.

In the Highest

The part that seems to throw people is found in Mark 11: 10: “Hosanna in the highest!”

If Hosanna means something like “deliver us,” should this sentence say “Deliver us in the highest”? That doesn’t sound right.

Perhaps that’s why the New Living Translation translates every instance of Hosanna as “Praise God.” I give them points for attempting to translate this word, but “Praise God” doesn’t seem to fit what we know about the original Hebrew words.

On the other hand, the Complete Jewish Bible translates every instance of Hosanna as “Deliver us!” or—for even more emphasis— “Please! Deliver us!” That certainly carries the weight of the original words yasha and annah.

A Plea for Deliverance

If the original usage of the word Hosanna was to plead for deliverance, does that mean that every person who shouted to Jesus, “Hosanna!” had the same idea of deliverance in mind? We know from the Bible that’s not the case.

While Jesus intended to bring spiritual salvation to all mankind, many of the Jews were looking for more earth-bound salvation—from Roman rule. Jesus wanted to be their God-King; they wanted an earthly king.

Some may have had a more personal deliverance in mind, such as physical and emotional healing. Still others may have understand Jesus enough to ask for spiritual deliverance, leading to salvation.

Today’s Crowd

I think it’s safe to say that no one in that crowd understand Jesus’ full mission—and He knew that. He could read the thoughts and hearts of every person there…and yet He did not rebuke them.

That gives me hope. When I find myself in the crowd, and I don’t understand God’s Word or His Will—or even the words I sing at church—I know He will be as patient and merciful with me as He was to the Jews back then.

So, in the scheme of things, it’s okay if we don’t know what the word Hosanna means or if we happen to use it in a way it was never intended. The Bible’s message of salvation doesn’t change, whether we use “Hosanna,” or translate it as “Praise God” or “Deliver me.” What is important is that we seek God.

As you prepare for Easter this year, I encourage you to seek Him anew. Run out to meet Him on the road of life! Throw down everything you have at His feet because He alone is worthy. Declare out loud that He is your King and Deliverer. Be brave and unashamed in your worship.

Rejoice that Jesus has come…and He is returning soon!


** Read the lyrics on Hillsong’s website.



Things I Don’t Regret


Recently, I noticed a trending hashtag on Twitter: #ThingsIDontRegret. Some of the posts were funny, like not regretting eating a whole pizza at 3am. Others were more serious, such as the woman who didn’t regret keeping her baby when she got pregnant as a teenager. But other posts were more sarcastic, even defensive, such as the woman who didn’t regret being promiscuous.

Looking back on my own life, there are things I wish I had done differently. God had a Plan A for me, but I was rebellious and self-righteous. Thankfully, God didn’t give up on me, and He brought me to where I am now. Still, I often wish that I had learned the easy way, that God hadn’t had to draft Plan B for me.

Still, I don’t think “regret” is the right word. As believers, should we even have regrets?

Without Regret

Fortunately, Paul gives us the answer in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

It is the Holy Spirit who convicts our hearts of sin. If that conviction leads us to repentance and salvation, then we have no cause for regrets. Our sins have been washed clean. We are made new. How can we regret actions that have led us to the cross and our salvation?

Once we accept Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside us. This makes it possible for us to know right from wrong and to choose right, even if that choice costs us dearly. However, Christians do sin. We succumb to temptation, fall back on bad habits, or rebel against the will of God. We’re human; it happens.

Thankfully, we can repent of our sins and accept God’s forgiveness. But this ability to receive forgiveness should never lead us to sin in the first place. We should never say, “Well, it’s okay this time. God will forgive me.” Instead, our thought should be, “God loved me so much that He let Jesus die so I could be reconciled to Him. I don’t want to do anything to hurt the heart of my Savior!” (See Romans 6.)

Thanks to Jesus

Unbelievers don’t have the benefit of the Holy Spirit inside them. They have to use their own conscience to decide what is right and wrong…or if that even matters at all. It is a sad and unenviable state, to wander in the darkness. It is the very reason Jesus died on the cross so long ago.

As you prepare for Easter, remember all the things you don’t have to regret—all because of what Jesus did at the cross for you. Then remember all those who have yet to accept the salvation that Jesus offers. You can pray something simple like this:

“Lord, thank you for your sacrifice. Not only did you die and rise again, but you took my sins with you to the grave, and you left them there. I know I am a new person in you. Please help me to act like it, to avoid sinful actions that hurt your heart. Please also be with those who do not yet know you. Let the purifying conviction of the Holy Spirit rest on them and draw them into your arms. Use me to share the good news of your saving grace, this season and every season. In the name of Jesus, ‘the Lord saves.’ Amen.”


[Click to Tweet: The conviction of the Holy Spirit produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation. 2 Cor 7:10 #bigsisterknows #faithlife]


The Name of Jesus


Thank God the cross is empty. (Photo by Ashley Jones, 2016.)


I’ve always wondered about the name Jesus.

In Matthew and Luke, we read the angel of the Lord specifically told Mary and Joseph to name their son Jesus. Later, Paul tells the church in Philippi that Jesus is the name above every name (see Philippians 2:9).

Why is the name of Jesus so important? Certainly, He could have fulfilled His mission as John, Paul, Billy, or Bob. (Like Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name….)

It wasn’t until I studied Greek at the Bible college that I had my answer.


Mining for Meaning

The New Testament was recorded in Greek because that was the language of the land. However, Jesus was Jewish, so He would have been given a Jewish name, and He would have spoken Hebrew as well as Greek.

The name Jesus, as it is written in the New Testament, is from the Greek word Iesous (Strong’s 2424).* If you look this up, you’ll read that it’s simply a name, and that it’s not unique to Jesus Christ.

However, Iesous comes from the Hebrew word Yehowshuwa (Strong’s 3091), or as we know it, Joshua.* This is actually a combination of two words: Jehovah (Lord / God) and saved.

The name Jesus means “the Lord saves.”


Above Every Name

That’s why the angel told Joseph to name his son Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NAS).

And that’s why Paul said it’s the most important name (see Philippians 2:9). It summarizes the very message and mission of Jesus. It’s the gospel wrapped up in a single phrase.

And that phrase—the Lord saves—was given to Jesus as a name so it would be a sign for all who would understand: Jesus is Lord, and He saves.


Jesus Today

This Easter, let us remember that Jesus is the only one who can save us from our sins. This is why He was born, why He died, why He rose from the grave, and why He continues to speak to God the Father on our behalf (see Acts 5:30-31).

If you know Jesus as your Savior, then thank Him for who He is and all that He has done for you.

If you haven’t accepted Jesus yet, then I encourage you to do so now.** The good news is that He still saves.


* The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of Bible, by James Strong. This is a great tool to locate words in the Bible and to research their meaning, whether they were written in Greek or Hebrew.

**A simple prayer is all it takes. Here’s a suggestion: Jesus, I acknowledge that you are God and I have sinned against you. I ask for Your forgiveness. Come into my heart. I’m Yours.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NAS)