This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be
glad in it.” Down through the centuries God’s children have
read, sung, and actively embodied these words from Psalm
118 in faithful acknowledgment of God’s unfailing love in and
through impossible times. These ancient words have provided
comfort and succor in all kinds of contexts both at national and
at personal levels.
Their original liturgical context was probably the early
Passover festival celebrating Israel’s redemption from slavery
in Egypt. In fact, present-day Jews still recite Psalm 118 at the
Passover meal. It is the last of six psalms in Book Five known as
the Egyptian Hallel, which commemorates the Israelite exodus
from Egypt. Later in Israel’s troubled history the words of Psalm
118 once again took on national significance through the return
of the dispirited exiles from Babylon. “This is the day that the
Lord has made.” This is the day he acted to save us. Approximately
three hundred years later, Christians began to read these
words through the eyes of Palm Sunday and Easter. They began
to cite the words of Psalm 118 as they celebrated the resurrection
of Jesus, the Lord’s day, the day the Lord has made (acted)
. . . to deliver. And still today countless individuals find hope,
solace, and encouragement in this ancient text. Why? Because
it has to do with love—a love that endures forever. A love that
knows no limits, that never gives up. An active love—quite literally
one that acts, does, makes, performs, delivers. God’s love.
God’s unfailing love.
Deliverance. Freedom. New life. New hope. These are more
than enough reasons to give thanks to the Lord and testify to a
love that endures forever!
Lord, help me see, sense, and experience your proactive love for me today. In the impossible situations that I face, remind me of the hope that I have in Christ, my deliverer. Amen.
These texts raise questions about who truly welcomes Jesus and under what circumstances. Isaiah 50 recalls the hostility that inevitably follows servanthood. A moment of acceptance, even welcome, will not hide from the servant the fact of the rejection to come. Psalm 118 claims that the city and the victory and the “one who comes” all belong to God. Any victory declared by human beings is bound to vanish as quickly as the day itself. The Philippians hymn asserts Jesus’ own determination to be obedient even to death and God’s conse- quent exaltation of Jesus above all creation. Even in the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ entry is one of meekness and humility rather than of power and pride.
• Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you rejoice in “the day that the LORD has made”?
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. The writer notes that for Isaiah, suffer- ing does not signal divine indifference but plays a part in the world’s bigger story. When have you interpreted your suffering as part of a bigger story?
• Read Philippians 2:5-11. What earthly traits of Jesus’ are evident in your daily living? Do you see yourself living a countercultural lifestyle?
• Read Matthew 21:1-11. Where are you in the Palm Sunday story? How do you respond to Jesus as he enters?
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