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Matthew 21:1-17

When His Ways are Higher than Your Hosanna

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • April 02, 2023

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

When His Ways are Higher than Your Hosanna

Matthew 21:1-17  


The title of the message this morning is, “His Ways are Higher that Your Hosanna.” The word “Hosanna” is a word of Hebrew origin and the result of a combination of two words, yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, now, please, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna,” “I beg you to save,” or “please save now.”

Hosanna is a word that is most often associated with Palm Sunday, because in all of the New Testament, “Hosanna” is only recorded in the scenes surrounding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday of His final week on earth before His death, burial, and resurrection.  It is shouted out to Jesus by crowds of people who were on the road headed into Jerusalem that day.

Jesus was headed into the city with large crowds on the road leading into Jerusalem. They were all headed there for the Passover celebration. This was a celebration of the day God saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. God had told the Israelites to sacrifice a spotless lamb in that day and mark the top and sides of their doorframes with the blood of the lamb. This would ensure that their household would be spared from death.

From history, we know that Jerusalem swelled for this celebration, we are told, to about five times its normal population. People would travel from all over the known world to Jerusalem for this celebration. Therefore, not only would the city of Jerusalem be packed, but the roads and paths to get there.

While headed in, the crowds begin crying out “Hosanna” to Jesus because He fulfills an Old Testament prophecy on that road by mounting atop the colt of donkey. In doing so, Jesus was letting the people know that He is the promised Messiah, the King of Israel, and the hope of the world. The people see this display, and they begin begging him to save, and to save right away. What we know is that Jesus was headed into Jerusalem that week for the very purpose of saving.


Matthew 20:17-19, As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the road He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and they will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and flog and crucify, and on the third day He will be raised up.”


Though Jesus had revealed to His disciples the way that He would save, by laying down His life to become the resurrection and the life and make the Way for us to be saved from our sin and set free to live eternally; the people were focused on the difficulty they could see and how they could be saved temporarily.

In Jesus’ day, many were looking forward to the Savior who would come as their messianic deliverer, and the predominant thought was that this deliverer would lead them in a revolt against Rome. Therefore, when Jesus presents Himself as the Savior to the people, they are shouting for Salvation from the earthly situation they are in.

The reality is, He was going to save differently than they anticipated, He would not go where the people wanted Him to go, and His focus was on a greater foe than the fight against Rome. For Jesus, it would be the cross before the crown, and that was different than the way the people thought it would all work out.

What is striking is that by the end of week, the shouts of the crowd for “hosanna,” for Jesus to “please save now,” will change to “crucify Him,” when their hopes for their preferred way of salvation at that time was not what He would immediately provide.

They were crying out “Hosanna,” but their hosanna had some strings attached. But God had a better plan, to save them from their sins, that meant that Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem would end with His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

This morning, I want to look at the text from Matthew 21:1-17, and some important things to remember in your life when you cry “Hosanna,” but God’s ways are higher!


Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.


We see this throughout Scripture, God’s people pray for a particular way they would like Him to work, and the Lord shows that His ways are higher.


Illus. His ways…


  1. Remain Open to Whatever He Asks of You


Matthew 21:1-3, When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them on immediately.”


  • As they approach Jerusalem and stop near the Mt. of Olives, Jesus sends two of His disciples into a nearby village to retrieve a colt of a donkey that He knows is tied there.


  • It was a colt that no one had ever sat on. His two disciples were to untie it and bring it to Him.


  • If anyone were to ask why they were taking the colt, they were to respond by saying, ‘the Lord has need of it,’ and that it would be sent back to them after Jesus used it.


Luke 19:33-34, And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord has need of it.”


Mark 11:6, And they told them just as Jesus had said, and they gave them permission..


  • Hearing that the Lord needed their colt, the owners were willing to let Jesus’ disciples take the colt for His use.


  • The colt had never been ridden (Mk 11:2; Lk 19:30). It would seem a gesture of respect and honor to offer such an animal to someone.


  • I am immediately struck by the phrase used when coming to the owner of the colt, the phrase used specifically is, “the Lord has need of it.”


  • Why would the creator of all things have need of anything?


2 Corinthians 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.


  • Not only were the owners of the colt willing to part with the colt, but Jesus’ disciples were also willing to walk over to the village and start untying the donkey.


Romans 11:36, For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.


  • He who made everything laid it all down that I might become rich in Him. But not only this, He chose to put Himself in a position whereby we could partner with Him, in order to see His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


  • God didn’t have to make it work this way. But He has chosen to allow us the opportunity to be a part of His story.


Luke 12:48(b), “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more..”


  • We get to be a part of making a difference on this earth and in our lives, for Jesus.


  • Their young donkey became the most famous donkey the world has ever known all because they gave it to Jesus on loan.

Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is righteous and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Illus. Borrowed things.  


Matthew 16:25, For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (NIV)


  • We have hopes, dreams and expectations surrounding our lives. But if the Lord has need of what He has given you and me, let us be those who allow Him access.


  1. Welcome Him Wherever He Wants to Go


Matthew 21:8-9

  • After the disciples threw their cloaks on the back of the colt, Jesus sat on it (7).
  • In taking His seat and heading to Jerusalem, He was offering Himself as King to the people. Something He had previously avoided.

John 6:15, So Jesus, aware that they intended to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself, alone.


  • This time it was different.


  • Jesus was now at the height of His ministry, and all wanted Him to ascend to His throne. They were heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover which commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery to Egypt.


  • And it was at this time, in remembrance of deliverance that hopes for their own deliverance from Romans oppression ran high.


  • They were looking for their leader, one who would lead them in victory and here was Jesus, they had found their guy, He was fulfilling scripture, He was the Messiah.


  • Some in the crowd laid down their coats and others placed palm branches on the road, it was their way of creating a “royal carpet.”


  • Hosanna! Save now!! Save now in the highest, in the uttermost!


Psalm 118:22-26, A stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This came about from the Lord; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it. Please, O Lord, do save us; please, O Lord, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord


  • This was a song the people would sing, set apart for the Messiah, and now, they are welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem, singing it about Him.


  • They wanted Him to save them out of their situation, but not in the way He was planning to save.


  • Many suggest this Scripture on a beautiful day, acknowledging that the Lord has made the day, and we have the opportunity to rejoice in it, but when it was written and sung, it was in light of the day God has made for salvation.


  • When God made a way, when the rejected stone is shown as the chief cornerstone and when the One who comes in the name of the Lord, comes to save!


  • Well, here Jesus is, the king, on top of the colt of a donkey, Jesus was coming to save, and the people knew what he was doing. Sadly, these shouts from the crowd for Jesus to “Save to the uttermost,” would change by the end of the week.


  • He would save, and He would save to the uttermost, but His way of saving would not be according to their timing, the plans they had prepared, or the way they thought it would all take place.


  • They joyfully rolled out the welcome mat for Jesus to come into the city! Lord come and save, save us until there is nothing left to save! But their shout would change.


  • They had the welcome mat out, they were crying out for Him to enter in, but when they began to see that His way to bring about hosanna in the highest, was different than the highest hosanna they had in mind, they don’t really want Him to go beyond the point of entry.


  • Jesus was going to drill deeper because His ways are higher.


Illus. Drill deeper.


Illus. Help!


Matthew 21:10-12(a), When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.” And Jesus entered the temple area…


  • From the book of Mark, we get an additional glimpse into the timeline and what took place upon Jesus’ arrival to Jerusalem.


  • Mark says that Jesus went immediately into the temple, looked around at everything, and then went to Bethany which was just about 2 miles outside of Jerusalem and the place Jesus would stay for the night.


  • Jesus entered into the city and looked around the temple in order to perform an inspection. I find it quite comforting where His attention was drawn. No doubt there was a lot wrong in their world and society, but Jesus made His priority the place that was set apart for the Lord, where He was supposed to have all authority.


  • Jesus’ supreme issue what not Rome’s army, but God’s temple. He had not come as a military, economic, political, or social savior from injustice and oppression but as a spiritual Savior who came to save people from death and sin.


  • During His life, He would have seen social injustice, much economic inequity, much deprivation and poverty, much oppression and outright cruelty by the Romans. But His mission continually focused on man’s greatest needs…salvation from death and sin.


III.   Let Him Choose What Needs to Change


Matthew 21:12-13, And Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”


  • There were major problems in the temple, and the problem Jesus pointedly pursued was that they had turned it into a den or robbers.


Illus. What was taking place.


Illus. That Much?


  • Jesus saw it all, drove out those buying and selling, overturned the tables of money changers and the seats of those selling doves.


  • “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”


  • Jesus quoted from Isaiah 56:7, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”


  • But those in leadership were using it for all the wrong purposes, specifically for their own profit.


  • Jesus declared that they are not more honorable than robbers.


Jeremiah 7:11, Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I Myself have seen it,” declares the Lord.


  • The passage would have angered the religious leaders who heard. In that chapter, Jeremiah announced that God was aware of the hypocritical worship of those in the temple and was about to bring judgement upon them unless they repented of their evil ways.


  • The temple was never intended to be a stock yard for religious extortion. Jesus makes His message clear and does so pointedly.


  • And we cannot miss the important application right here.


  • Our church needs to be a place of worship and prayer. A place where we are certain to draw near when we are here.


  • Additionally, there is important application for you and for me personally. The Scripture says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit….


1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.


  • Being that those in Christ are a temple of the Holy Spirit, it is imperative that you respond to all He wants to do in your life, that you not spurn Him, when He wants to overturn the tables that separate you from Him.


  • May this example be a picture for me and for you of those things which stand against God in our lives.


  1. Maintain a Posture of Praise


Matthew 21:14-17


  • After Jesus drove out what needed to be driven out, the temple became a place where Jesus was ministering… Jesus was healing those in need of healing, Matthew calls it a wonderful scene.


  • I want to circle three postures. One we have seen and two others in the final scene.


  • First, we have seen the posture of the crowd, and while we know it would soon be changing, they are asking Jesus for “Hosanna in the highest.”


  • We know what took place in the week that follows. We will see it; their shouts will change. But the point I want to make sure is not missed today, is that God’s ways are higher than your hosanna.


Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.


Romans 15:4, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (NIV)


  • The next posture is that of the chief priests and scribes, the ones who “knew it all,” were indignant, which is defined as sore displeasure.


  • They were displeased because they simply would not believe. They had rejected Jesus, and what we always see from them is sore displeasure.


  • The last posture I want to point out, is that of the children.


  • They are in the temple, seeing Jesus and his ministry, and as they see it all, they are shouting, “hosanna.”


  • I am struck by this scene. The children were shouting “hosanna,” and I can’t help but recognize where the children would have learned their posture of praise.


  • It seems to me, that they had learned it on their way into the city. Their shouts were the same shouts of praise they had heard from their parents the day before.


  • Their shouts do not seem to be tied to expectation of what He might do for them, rather, there shouts of praise were simply surrounding their excitement about who they knew Jesus to be.


  • Their hosanna had no strings attached, they simply saw His ways, and they were drawn into a posture of praise!


Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he grows older he will not abandon it.

Psalm 63:3, Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. (NASB 95’)

Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.


Matthew 21:1-17

1When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to Me. 3And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them on immediately.” 4Now this took place so that what was spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled: 5“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, Humbleand mounted on a donkey, Even on a coltthe foal of a donkey.’ ” 6The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their cloaks on them; and He sat on the cloaks. 8Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9Now the crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” 10When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds were saying, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12And Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13And He *said to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.” 14And those who were blind and those who limped came to Him in the temple area, and He healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, 16and they said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘From the mouths of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” 17And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

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