Read His Words Before Ours!
The word “Hallel” is Hebrew for “a joyous praise in song, to boast in God”. The grouping of Psalms 113-118 are considered the “Egyptian Hallel” because they were chanted in the Temple courts during Passover, specifically as the spotless Passover lamb was slain. This was a yearly reminder to all Jews of God’s divine rescue from the Angel of Death in Egypt, which “passed over” a doorpost if it was stained with the blood of a lamb, keeping Death away from those inside. As morning dawned after the Angel of Death had passed through Egypt, God brought deliverance for every Hebrew in all of Egypt who had once been enslaved. Given the Jewish tradition, it was most likely from this grouping of songs Jesus and His disciples sang their hymn (Matthew 26:30) as they moved from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed and handed over to be flogged and crucified.
It was Passover again.
The yearly celebration of Yahweh’s deliverance of His people, Israel, from the death-grip of Pharaoh and his 400-year enslavement. Jesus had celebrated many of these Passovers; over 30 while on earth. But He has been intricately involved in each one since the beginning, as God the Son.
He was there when Moses defied Pharaoh again and again, proving God’s power in the face of Pharaoh’s arrogance. He saw every Hebrew who died at the hand of a taskmaster. He heard every mother’s anguished cry as another son was murdered for being born a boy. He bottled every tear shed as slaves begged for freedom from oppression decade after decade. Christ, the ever-present God, had watched as innocent lamb’s blood was spilled and painted over doorframes as the Angel of Death passed through Egypt on that final night of slavery. All who were covered by the blood of the lamb would be saved from death. Jesus knew, and His heart leapt thousands of years forward to this night, and this Passover feast.
Jesus sat in the Upper Room with His disciples, a Passover meal spread before them on a low table. The sun sank into the western sky and the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful God wrapped in the confines of human flesh, prepared to lead His friends in worship.
The meal had been consumed, the story of freedom had been re-told just as it had for hundreds of years before, dirty feet had been washed by the Savior of the world as He demonstrated again the heart of God in human form. But even this act of humble love was nothing like what would come.
The first Passover lamb’s blood had painted doorways and saved hundreds of Hebrew lives. Jesus, the final Passover lamb, would shed His blood in a few hours, and offer atonement for the sin of the whole world across all time.
Death was pressing in on Him, the Giver and Sustainer of Life. (Colossians 1:16-17) Separation from God the Father was imminent, clawing at His heart like sharp talons digging into His human heart.
God’s righteous wrath stood ready to be poured out in full on the Son whom He loved. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
The Lord looked around the table, knowing this would be His final Passover meal shared on earth, knowing all that had gone before, and seeing all that would come. As the full range of human emotions washed over Him, anguish, grief, fear, sadness, and incredible love, He did as He had always done, He worshipped.
Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord!
His disciples were confused. Some were even aloof while others were tense with frustration. But as Jesus’ voice rose, the familiar words rising from His throat, the disciples gathered to praise the timeless Sovereign Name of the Lord God.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!
The air was different tonight, and everyone knew it, but the commonality of the familiar lyrics, the call and response between the disciples and Jesus, and the gentle sound of their Shepherd’s voice, brought them together in unity as they worshipped. The disciples shuffled out the door into the night air, following Christ to the garden of Gethsemane with praise on their lips.
The Lord is high above all nations,
and His glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
Who indeed is like the Lord our God?!
Peter, long convinced that the man walking ahead of Him to the Garden was God Himself, exalted that there was none like this God who, though high and lofty, came low. But still, he couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is the victory? This all feels so strange and unlike anything I imagined. Will Jesus follow through on His promises to free us? What will it look like?”
The music swirled around them, each man adding his voice to the mix, even as their doubts and fears and confusion twisted their insides. Still they worshipped as Christ’s voice carried over the sound of their hushed mumblings. It was like He was pouring His whole heart out.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
Indeed, Christ’s heart was being poured out to the Father as His body would soon be broken for the poor in spirit and the needy sitting in the ashes of their sin without a Savior.
Just as God had freed Israel from their Egyptian captives, Jesus would free humanity from the eternal slavery of sin and death.
But for now, in this moment, He would keep singing, “Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 113:9)
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!