Monday, April 11, 2011


Matthew says, "And they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives."

We are singing creatures. We have songs for everything; songs about life and death, hopes and dreams, tragedies, failures -- you name it and there is a song for it.

Near the beginning of the bible, back thousands of years ago in Israel's early history, they experienced God's mighty power when the Red Sea parted and they walked to safety on dry land. Exodus 14:31 says, "When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before Him." So how did they respond? They broke into song: "I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously; ... the Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me the victory." It was called "The Song of Moses."

Near the end of the Bible, through the eyes of John in Revelation 15, as we look toward the end of time, we see with him all of the people who had been victorious over the beast. They too, says John, are singing The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb.

In the middle of the Bible is a Psalm that links the Songs of Moses and of the Lamb with our lives. In our Bibles Psalm 66 has this simple inscription: "A Psalm. A Song." In its early verses it refers to Israel's crossing through the Red Sea and goes on to say, "we went through fire and blood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance." One scholar translates it: "you have brought us back to life." This Psalm was well known in Jesus' day because it was used by the Jews at various times during Passover week.

The early Christians continued to use it. Because it talks about passing from defeat to victory, from death to life, the early church added a word it its inscription in the Greek version, the word anastasis, which means "resurrection." They called it "A Song of Resurrection" and applied it to the victory we have in Christ who was raised from the dead.

I say all of this to raise a question. In Matthew's description of the Passover meal, what we call the Lord's Supper, after Jesus spoke of the bread as His body and the cup as the new covenant in His blood, Matthew concludes: "They sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives." (26:30). What hymn did they sing? Since Psalm 66 was often used during Passover week, could that be what they sang? We don't know, of course, but I like to think that Jesus led them in singing about the mighty power of God and His victory through Jesus Christ over sin and death, which we celebrate at the Lord's Table.