Summary: Jesus the sacrifice Lamb sang the night of His crucifixion. Why did He sing? What did He sing?
The Night the Lamb Sang
TCF Maundy Thursday Sermon
April 5, 2012
Matthew 26:26-30 (ESV) 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you 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.” 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Properly so, we usually explore on this night the institution, the founding, of the Lord’s Supper, or we look closely at the words Jesus spoke that night in the Upper Room, or the events that took place that night.
This is a rich passage of scripture, deep with meaning, and an incredibly important time in the history of our salvation. This is the beginning of what’s arguably the most important 24 hours in the history of salvation.
There are so many directions we could go for our thoughts tonight, before we what Jesus asked us to do in remembrance of Him, when we take the bread and the cup ourselves, even as Jesus’ disciples did that very night.
We’ll do that shortly, but first, I want to highlight something that, at least for me, was an entirely new thought about this narrative. After leaving His disciples the instructions to remember His sacrifice by celebrating what we’ve come to call The Lord’s Supper, we see in verse 30 something that, at first glance, is easy to miss.
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Now, with just a casual reading of this you might think that this is just Matthew, and also in Mark’s gospel, filling in some colorful detail of what took place. After all, he’s writing an eyewitness account of what took place. And this is inspired writing, so it might as well be thorough, and engaging.
But several weeks ago, I was reading a random article where the writer mentioned this verse almost in passing. I had never thought before about this being the only place in scripture where we see Jesus singing. The verse says “they sang a hymn.” Jesus was part of the group of men gathered that night, so He, was one of the they.
Now, I suppose it’s not surprising that Jesus would sing. Jesus was fully man at the same time He was fully God. Pretty much everybody sings sometimes, don’t they? Yet we see in scripture Jesus speaking, talking, eating, sleeping, walking, but here’s the only place it refers to Him singing, and here it refers to Him only indirectly, as one of the group. That raises a few interesting questions, doesn’t it?
First of all, how can you possibly be singing at a time like this? And secondly, what might Jesus and His disciples have sung that night?
So, to the first question - what a time to be singing! Think about it. Jesus had just discussed with His disciples the reality of the wine being poured into their cups, symbolizing the blood that He would soon pour out for their sins. Hardly party or celebration conversation.
He had just predicted His betrayal by Judas. He had just told His disciples that His time was at hand – the time of His death. We know from other gospel accounts of this night, that He had spoken of, and revealed to His disciples, the model of His servanthood, by washing His disciples feet.
In the gospel of John, we see much more of what Jesus spoke to His disciples on that night. For example, He told them:
John 15:18-20 (ESV) 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
So, these are the things that happened, the things that were spoken that night. Hardly a party. Hardly a fun and exciting evening for the disciples. Pretty serious stuff. And that doesn’t even begin to look at what happened just a little later, in the Garden of Gethsamane, where Jesus actually sweated drops of blood. If they sang, we might be inclined to think, surely they must have sung a sober hymn, a quiet and contemplative song – the kind of songs we are singing tonight, right?