As we prepare our music for the Easter Season, I am reminded of the poignant scene with Jesus and the Disciples, after the Last Supper. This is how it reads from Matthew 26:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying,“Take and eat; this is My body.”
Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
For all of my life, this simple fact – that Jesus and the Disciples sang together after the supper – was always mentioned as we closed the Lord’s Supper service and we would sing a familiar hymn together. But what did Jesus sing that night?
Biblical scholars agree that it was most likely that Jesus and the Disciples sang Psalms 113-118, the “Hallel” from the Jewish Psalter – as that was – and is today – the custom for Jews to sing and recite on the first night of Passover. And, we know this is why they had gathered together that night – to share in the Passover meal.
As we prepare for Holy Week, I encourage you to spend time meditating on Psalm 113 through 118 and as you do so, place the verses in the context of all that Jesus was facing in the next few hours – the trials, the scourging, the crucifixion. It is truly remarkable to consider. I am especially moved by these verses from Psalm 118 – imagine Jesus singing these words just before His prayer in Gethsemane:
Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
As we pray, rehearse and prepare over the next few days, let’s place ourselves with Jesus in those moments so that we are not casual or routine in our preparation – but purposeful, prayerful and serious – recognizing the weight and importance of all that Christ suffered – and all that He accomplished on our behalf.
Singing and music mark the most important moments of our lives: graduations, weddings, funerals . . . and I think it is important to note that Jesus was faithful to sing praise to God as He faced the most difficult task anyone in human history has ever encountered.
I believe Jesus is still inviting us to sing with Him – no matter the circumstances we face. Let’s worship Him in spirit and truth and give Him our very best this Easter as we join Him in singing praises to the Father.