“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” – Matthew 26:30
We don’t often think of Jesus singing, but He did. He lifted His voice in adoration and worship to God the Father. We can endlessly wonder what His voice sounded like, but we know for certain that He sang with more than His voice- He lifted His whole heart up in praise. This reminds us that God wants to be praised with singing. “They sang a hymn,” records Matthew. But there can be little doubt that Jesus led the singing.
They were finished in the upper room in Jerusalem. The washing of feet, the teaching of Jesus, the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ long “high priestly prayer” for his present and future disciples. Then they made their way to the Mount of Olives, just outside the city, where Jesus would pray through the night and, finally, be arrested.
It is remarkable that Jesus could sing on this night before His crucifixion. Could we sing in such circumstances? Jesus can truly be our worship leader. We should sing to God our Father – just as Jesus did – because this is something that pleases Him; and when we love someone, we want to do the things that please them. It really doesn’t matter if it does or doesn’t please us.
No mightier music ever sounded amid the darkness of this sad world than the singing of Jesus and His first disciples, as they moved out to the Garden, and then to the Cross of His Passion, and their redemption.”
It is wonderful that Jesus sang, but what did He sing? A Passover meal always ended with singing three Psalms known as the Hallel, Psalms 116-118. Think of how the words of these Psalms would have ministered to Jesus as He sang them on the night before His crucifixion:
The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!”(Psalm 116:3,4)
For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8-9)
I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:13-15)
Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! (Psalm 117:1)
You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:13-14)
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD. (Psalm 118:17-19)
The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalm 118:22-23)
God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. (Psalm 118:27-28)
When Jesus arrived at Gethsemane, Psalm 118 was on his lips, chanted, or sung in a tune and meter that have been lost to us today. It provided strength, comfort, and courage through the inspired reminder of how God would guide his Messiah through suffering to glory.
If you knew that tonight you would be arrested and put to death as a criminal, do you think that you could sing after your last meal? May the Spirit lead us to take time each day to sing a hymn of thanks and praise to God. For who but God knows what this day will hold? Who but God knows what difficulties, tragedies, trials, disappointments will fall on you today? Who but God knows what blessings he will pour out upon you in the midst of every evil, danger, and unforeseen disaster?
I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
6 The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
7 Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. -Psalm 116:1,2,5-7