Hosanna in the highest! Save now, we pray! The excited Jerusalem crowd knew the One whom they greeted. They knew He was the Messiah. Just yesterday they witnessed Jesus’ raising of Lazarus, Jesus’ dearly beloved friend who was four days into the sleep of death. With that miracle, combined with all the others He had done, combined with the preaching they had heard, they saw all they needed to see. They cut down palm branches, they cast their garments before the Lord of heaven and earth, their promised King, their promised Savior, the only one who could answer their earnest prayer, “Hosanna!” They greeted Him as He entered His city, greeted the One whom the prophets had foretold since the Fall into sin.
Repetition is the mother of learning, the adage goes. God’s people have known that since the Creation. Adam and Eve told their children the mighty acts of God when He created the world out of nothing, simply by speaking. Noah told his children and grandchildren how God kept them alive out of His mercy when the rest of the world was evil and destroyed by the Flood. The people of Israel told their children what God had done when He led them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them the land once promised to their father, Abraham. The Exodus, was the chief event of the Old Testament. Jeremiah tells us that when he says that God is not known by His name, but by His action: “The Lord who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.” We, living after Christ’s saving work, know that the Exodus, as great as it was, was merely a foreshadowing of the greater freeing that was to come. Christ has freed His people from sin, death, and the devil. That’s also why Jeremiah’s prophecy was so radical when he said that a day is coming when God will not be referred to as the God of the Exodus, but the God who gives righteousness. The Exodus would be seen as nothing, as something insignificant compared to what it foreshadowed. But until that Promised One would come, the children of Israel kept telling their children what God had done for them.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.