“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.” (Matt. 26:30)
It is hard to believe, but not everyone likes good music. I read of a grumpy old gentleman in a crowded restaurant who was compelled to sit, against his will, next to the orchestra. He stared at the leader as a fast moving number came to an end. He snorted and asked, “Would you be so kind as to play something by request?” The orchestra leader bowed with a smile. “Certainly,” he replied; “anything you like, sir.” “Then,” snapped the old patron, “I want you to be good enough to play a game of checkers while I finish my meal.”
One of the loveliest images of Jesus in the Bible is that of Him singing a song. On the night of His last Passover supper with His friends, Jesus did something very important before heading out into the night. Jesus led His disciples in singing a hymn and then, “they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew was there, and remembered the moment well.
What was the hymn that Jesus sang? The answer is easy enough to discover. Jesus was singing the last of the traditional Hallel, or Jubilation Psalms, which number Psalms 113-118. The Psalms which Jesus sang are still sung today by devote Jews on joyous occasions including the pilgrim festivals of Passover, and Shavuot or, Feast of Weeks. Listen then to the words of Psalm 116:15 in particular. Considering what would happen on the same night after the Passover meal, the words are poignant. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
The words of this Psalm meant something special to Jesus, something which His disciples could not fully comprehend. Jesus was singing about His own death being precious in the sight of the Lord. The word precious is yaqar (yaw-kar) and means “valuable,” “costly,” “excellent.” The death of Christ was precious to the Father because it was valuable. The death of Jesus was to be the atonement for sin. Jesus would reconcile men to God. Let the Church sing of this facet of the death of Christ by remembering how Calvary covers it all.
“Calvary covers it,
My past with its sin and stain;
My guilt and despair,
Jesus took on Him there,
And Calvary covers it all.”
The death of Christ was valuable and it was costly. Calvary cost Jesus His life. It cost Him fellowship with the Father. It cost Jesus His reputation as a good man for He was identified with the wicked in His death.
“And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, should die for me?”
The death of Christ was valuable, it was costly, and it was excellent because He was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus was the Lamb without spot or blemish. Not a bone of His body was broken. Let the angels of heaven unite with the souls of the saved to sing.
“Jesus Son of God
The Darling of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb.”
Because Jesus sang, let us sing as well. It is the will of the Lord. “O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:1) Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus to enjoy psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Eph.5:19) Martin Luther said, “After theology, I give the highest place and greatest honor to music.” He was wise.
Music was sung at creation. When God said, “Let there be light” the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Gen. 1:3, Job 38:7) Music was sung after the children of Israel made it through the Red Sea, which drowned the armies of Pharaoh. Exodus 15:1 says, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
The early Christians sang songs, one of which is recorded in 1 Timothy 3:16. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
Perhaps there is someone today who is lonely, discouraged, depressed, or in sorrow. Come to Christ. He will put a new song in your heart for He has come to give life and that more abundantly.