This Is The Day…of Suffering

Some choruses get ‘sung to death’ in churches! Have you ever sung ‘This Is the Day?’  

‘Good morning everyone,’ the leader exclaims.  ‘What a beautiful day God has given us.  Let’s begin by singing ‘This is the Day!’  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard this a thousand times. (Well, several times at least….). Psalm 118:24 was set to music but the context of Psalm 118 reflects suffering and anguish, not gratitude for a sunny day.

In Mark 14, the gospel writer indicates the close of ‘The Lord’s Supper,’ with the following text – “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

The Passover meal was the occasion when the Psalms of the Great Hallel were sung, concluding with Psalm 118.  So let me set the scene for you.  Jesus has just reminded his followers that his body will be broken for them, his blood shed. His followers will all give evidence of betrayal, denial and abandonment.  The meal concludes with the corporate singing of 29 verses of thanksgiving for God’s love, presence and strength in the midst of severe suffering, exactly what Jesus Christ experienced through Thursday night and Good Friday.

Let me highlight some truths from  Psalm 118.

God’s Attributes

1) His love endures forever. (Ps. 118:2,3,4)

2) His presence is sensed during times of anguish. (v.5-6)

3) His help enables ultimate victory over intensive attacks from enemies. (V.10-12)

4) His salvation and strength through difficulty provides a theme for singing (v.13-14)

5) His mighty works are celebrated by the righteous. (V.15-16)

6) His chastening has been severe but death is not the final victor. (V.17-18)

7) His gates are the place for the suffering one to enter and give thanks for His help. (V.19-21)

8) His marvelous work has confused the thinking of the builders. (V.22-24)

9) His salvation and success comes as we head to the place of sacrifice. (V.25-27)

10) His goodness and love provides ample reason for thankgiving. (V.28-29)

So the next time you’re tempted to sing ‘This is the Day,’ don’t forget to read all of Psalm 118 and consider the suffering Saviour, singing with his disciples about the events of His own sacrifice.  The tempo and tone of the chorus might have to be changed radically!

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