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An Easter meditation on Psalm 118

I have always been intrigued by Mark's comment, at the end of his account of the last supper. 'And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives' (Mark 14.26). What words were ringing in the ears of Jesus and his disciples as they went out to his betrayal and passion? Almost certainly it was Psalm 118.

Notes to Growing Christians David Jackman

The reason is that the group of Psalms 113-118, known as the Egyptian Hallel ('praise'), traditionally concluded the Passover celebration; but their message was reaching a much deeper level of fulfilment on that momentous night. The words of verse 26, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!' had greeted Jesus's triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. The words of this psalm were to ring out in the temple, as he hung on the cross at the very moment the Passover lambs were slaughtered. Josephus tells us that over 200,000 lambs were killed and that for two hours the blood was carried to the altar, as the Levites sang the great 'hallel'. But on that Friday, it was all redundant. The temple curtain had already been torn in two from top to bottom, by the very hand of God himself. The Lamb of God had already suffered and died on the cross, as the atoning sacrifice, to 'take away the sin of the world' (John 1.29). Psalm 118 takes us, then, to the very heart of the greatest events of human history, which we celebrate again this Easter, with great 'hallelujahs'.