Monday, March 30. Psalm 118:26-29.
We watched Star Wars: Episode Four again this week. Remember, that’s actually the first one that was made back in the 70’s (and the good one, in my opinion). Do you remember the final scene when everyone was cheering and celebrating because the good guys had defeated the evil Empire’s Death Star? That is the spirit of Psalm 118. It is called a victory Psalm. The people shout out, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good…blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, because he has defeated the Death Star!” (OK, maybe it doesn’t say that last part, but you get the idea of the mood, right?)
I invite you to do two things today, if you have time. First, take time to read all of Psalm 118. Let yourself get caught up in the emotion of this Psalm. The author has been trapped in a frightening place and God has delivered him and the people from certain death. What kinds of things does the author say about God?
Then, imagine the scene that we reenacted in church yesterday. It was the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey: The Triumphal Entry. When the people saw him, what did they do? They started singing Psalm 118. (I think they sang the whole thing over and over). They were singing the national victory song for the king…for Jesus.
Here’s the question. How did that work out for them? Did Jesus bring them great victory? Did he, like Luke Skywalker, blow up the Death Star of the Roman Empire? No. In fact, by the end of the week the same crowd that was shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” was shouting “Crucify Him, Take him to the Death Star!” Then Jesus willingly let the Death Star destroy him.
Here’s the irony of the Triumphal Entry. The people were wrong and right at the same time. They were wrong because they thought Jesus was going to destroy the Empire of Rome and their “Death Star.” They were right because Jesus did so much more. He destroyed the Empire of Sin and conquered Death itself.
This Sunday we will shout “Hosanna!” for all the right reasons.
But first we must pass through Holy Week…The Empire Strikes Back. To be continued…