And Then They Sang a Hymn

Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, better known as S. M. Lockridge, is well known for the Easter meditation It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Comin’. It’s Friday. Jesus is praying. Peter’s a sleeping. Judas is betraying. But Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. Pilate’s struggling. The council is conspiring. The crowd is vilifying. They don’t even know that Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. The disciples are running like sheep without a shepherd. Mary’s crying. Peter is denying. But they don’t know that Sunday’s a comin’. It’s Friday. The Romans beat my Jesus. They robe him in scarlet. They crown him with thorns. But they don’t know that Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. See Jesus walking to Calvary. His blood dripping. His body stumbling. And his spirit’s burdened. But you see, it’s only Friday. Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. The world’s winning. People are sinning. And evil’s grinning.

It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross. They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross. And then they raise him up next to criminals. It’s Friday. But let me tell you something. Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. The disciples are questioning what has happened to their King. And the Pharisees are celebrating that their scheming has been achieved. But they don’t know it’s only Friday. Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. He’s hanging on the cross. Feeling forsaken by his Father. Left alone and dying. Can nobody save him? Ooooh it’s Friday. But Sunday’s comin’. It’s Friday. The earth trembles. The sky grows dark. My King yields his spirit. It’s Friday. Hope is lost. Death has won. Sin has conquered and Satan’s just a laughin’. It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place. But it’s Friday. It is only Friday. Sunday is a comin’!

It is Sunday. Sunday has come. But I am stuck at Thursday.

On Thursday There was a Meal

I do not want to forget Thursday…ever. On Thursday there was a meal. This meal was in the evening. And Jesus was there at this meal. All of the disciples were there at this meal too – Peter and Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew and Matthew and Thomas and James and Simon and Judas and Judas the Iscariot. This Judas would soon leave this meal to do what he was going to do.

And at this meal, Jesus will take bread and bless it. At this meal, Jesus will take a cup and give thanks for it. And at this meal, Jesus will lead these men in a hymn. This is Matthew 26:26-30. Eating the bread and drinking the cup prepared these men for Friday, Good Friday.

These men would have eaten this bread before, but not like this. And these men would have drank this cup before, but not like this. This meal was the Passover Meal, a meal that up to this Thursday evening had been celebrated and observed for some 1500 years. It was a remembrance meal of God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. The bread was unleavened bread and was a reminder of how their ancestors ate the bread of affliction as they fled Egypt. And the cup was one of most likely four cups. Each cup corresponded to four “I will” statements from Exodus 6:6-7. Again, all about the Egypt exodus. “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

But on this Thursday evening, Jesus took the bread and broke it. Why did he break it? Listen closely to Matthew 26:26. “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it…” Pause there and notice the word blessing. Jesus blessed the bread. This particular word just catches the reader’s attention and partly because Matthew records that when Jesus took the cup he gave thanks. So, intentionally Matthew points out, for some reason, that Jesus gave thanks for the cup, but he blessed the bread. And the blessing of the bread is a form of thanks, it is just that blessing and thanks are two different Greek words. The word blessing is the Greek word eulogeó. And this word basically means good word. When Jesus took the bread, he gave a good word. But its usage here indicates that in blessing the bread Jesus gave a celebration of praise. This makes you pause for a moment. Jesus took the bread and in a celebration of praise broke it. And why did he break it? Listen to the rest of Matthew 26:26. “…and gave it to the disciples.” So, Jesus broke the bread in order to share it with the disciples. And this bread which for 1500 years had been about the eating of affliction in leaving Egypt, Jesus now says, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Just as for 1500 years this bread had been a reminder or a picture of the eating of affliction in leaving Egypt, this now was a reminder or a picture of Jesus’ body. No longer would the bread be about the affliction of Egypt, but now it would be about the affliction of Jesus. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

And then Jesus took a cup. It was one of the four cups traditionally used in the meal. And when he took this cup, the disciples having been so used to hearing something from Exodus 6:6-7, probably heard something from Exodus 6:6-7, but then heard Jesus give thanks. The word thanks is the word eucharisteó, often translated as thanksgiving. This word is made up of two words: good () and grace (charis). Jesus took a cup and gave thanks, he was thankful for God’s good grace. And this cup Jesus described “is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (cf. Exodus 24:8; Jeremiah 31:31-34). And like the bread, this is a picture. It is a picture that without the shedding blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins.

And so, Thursday evening there was this meal and this meal prepared these men for Friday, Good Friday. But there is more.

Evening was Followed by Night

Following Thursday evening came Thursday night. And after this meal, Jesus led his disciples out into the night toward the Mount of Olives. A band of soldiers would soon be dispatched there with lanterns and torches and weapons. But on the way there, after the meal, Jesus said to the disciples, “You will all fall away [skandalizó] because of me this night” (26:31). Listen to these words on their own. Jesus just shared a meal with these men and we will see in a moment that he also just sang a glorious hymn with these men. The next thing he shares with these men is devastation. Each one of you will desert me on this very night. What night was that? Thursday night. But. These words are only devastating without the rest of Matthew 26:31. “For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” Notice the words “For it is written.” This is Zechariah 13:7. And Jesus is sharing with these men that Zechariah 13:7 is about them and this will happen on this Thursday night. Why is Jesus seemingly devastating these men? In short, it is to prepare them for Thursday night. Just as the meal, the bread and the cup prepared these men for Friday, it pre-explained Good Friday, Jesus now is preparing these men for Thursday night. This had to break them. But this is good news. It is because of the words “For it is written.” Zechariah 13:7 is God’s written plan. And Jesus is preparing these men that although they will all fall away on this very night, it is all according to God’s written plan. The whole night, even their own falling away, will be according to God’s written plan.

And then there is Matthew 26:32. “But [the greatest word in the Bible] after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Jesus on this Thursday evening, is talking about his own resurrection. He is talking about Sunday. He is talking about Resurrection Sunday. And who is he telling this to? These disciples! On this Thursday evening, Jesus has prepared these men for Thursday night when all would seem so devastating – you will all be scattered; Jesus has prepared these men for Friday when all would seem so lost; Jesus has prepared them for Saturday when all would seem so hopeless; and Jesus has prepared them for Sunday – we will all be together. He is alive!

And Then They Sang A Hymn

I love Matthew 26:30. After they ate the bread and after they drank the cup, Matthew 26:30 says, “And when they had sung a hymn.”  Peter and Andrew and James and John and Philip and Bartholomew and Matthew and Thomas and James and Simon and Judas with Jesus sang a hymn. There is a very good possibility that they sang Psalm 118. Psalms 113-118 would have been sung at this meal. And if they sang as their closing hymn Psalm 118, these men along with Jesus, better yet led by Jesus, would have sang, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24).

But why did they sing a hymn? Both Matthew and Mark record that before heading out to the garden, Jesus and these disciples sang a hymn together.

Take a good look at Matthew 26:29 and Matthew 26:30. What do you see? You should see a small bit of white space. In that small bit of white space is fit all the words of John 14 and John 15 and John 16 and John 17. In that bit of white space fits Jesus’ prayer for these men. I like knowing that in between Matthew 26:29 and Matthew 26:30, Jesus prayed for these men. And after praying for these men, together with Jesus they all sang one glorious hymn.

But Matthew and Mark do not record for us that Jesus prayed for these men and then they sang together. Instead, Mark records what Matthew records in verse twenty-nine. “I tell you I will not [the strongest form of a negative; no! I will not] drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

At the cross Jesus would be offered wine to drink. Listen to Mark 15:23. “And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” It was said that this wine “was designed to dull Jesus’ pain, to keep him from having to endure the cross with full consciousness. This wine he refused.”[1] Then listen to Mark 15:36. “And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’” This wine “was given to keep him “conscious for as long as possible,” and thus have the effect of prolonging his pain. This is the wine Jesus drank.”[2]

But on Thursday evening, Jesus with these men looks forward to a day beyond Thursday night and Friday and Saturday and Sunday morning when he sits with you in his Father’s kingdom and drinks a cup new with you! Do you get it? For all those whose sins are forgiven at the cross and whose hope is in Sunday morning, Jesus is alive, he is looking forward to sitting down with you in his Father’s kingdom drinking a new cup with you!

Why is it new? Why is drinking this cup new? It is that day in which “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8). This is part of what makes this cup so new.

On Sunday, I need the enormous preciousness of Thursday.

[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-wine-jesus-drank

[2] Ibid.

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