Can you imagine how blessed the disciples were to live with Jesus for three years – to see Him face-to-face, hear His Word from His own lips, witness His miracles, and learn from Him directly how to pray, minister, live and die?
And yet we who have been saved by trusting in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) are also blessed, for His Word records many details of His teachings and earthly ministry.
On the eve of His crucifixion, our omniscient Savior knew the unspeakable agony that awaited Him –unimaginable physical pain, cruel betrayal by His closest friends and chosen people He had come to save, and worst of all, separation from His Father, with Whom He had been present continually since eternity past.
Yet rather than sinking into despair, Jesus used His remaining hours to share the Passover with His apostles; to teach them the sacrament of communion and its meaning, remembering His broken body and His blood shed for the remission of our sins; and to pray, more so for all His followers than for His own ordeal.
But between the Last Supper and the prayer at Gethsemane, Our Savior gave thanks and praised God by singing! As far as I know, this is the only recorded time in Christ’s earthly ministry that He sang! Just as He had led the disciples in the Passover celebration and in prayer, I believe He led them in the hymn of praise they sang after supper, just after He foretold His shed blood and coming kingdom:
Mark 14:25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
What must it have been like to hear the voice of Jesus lifted in song to His Father? Jesus Christ in His earthly form was perfect in every way, as He was without sin. How resonant, melodious, expressive and clear His singing voice must have been! Although He experienced fatigue, hunger, thirst and pain as we do, there is no record that He ever fell ill, which I believe reflects His freedom from the curse of sin. There would have been no allergies, respiratory infections, or congestion to mar His perfect vibrato, intonation and range.
What a perfect example for all believers to follow, no matter whether we are trained singers or just making a joyful noise unto the Lord – to sing praise to Our Father even in the midst of, and especially in the midst of, the worst trials. In His restorative power, God can even enable the mute to worship Him in song! (Isaiah 35:1-6).
The apostle Paul and missionary Silas followed that example when they were wrongfully imprisoned, and their worship songs not only cheered their fellow prisoners, but caused an earthquake that released them all from their bonds. They used that miraculous display of God’s power not to escape, but to convert their jailer and his household to faith in Christ (Acts 16: 22-34).
Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Small wonder that Paul later encouraged all believers to commune with God and to uplift and teach themselves and one another with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Music that honors God is a way to witness to the unsaved (Psalm 98:2), to encourage other believers and to worship God (Psalm 149:1-2).
The Old Testament and Psalms are filled with exhortations for believers to praise and worship the Lord in song (e.g. 2 Chronicles 5:13, Psalm 13:6). God designed us in His image for His good pleasure, including our voices (Exodus 15:1,21), ears (Exodus 10:2), and musical abilities (Genesis 4:21) to resonate freely to His glory.
If we praise God with song even when we are suffering, those who hear it shall experience our witness of being born again (John 3:3-8) and may be led to trust the Lord themselves.(Psalm 40:1-3; 14:6). By singing unto the Lord, we bless His name; show His salvation; and declare His glory (Psalm 96:1-3).
Even the earth and all of God’s creation (1 Chronicles 16:23,33) sing out in praise! The sea should roar, the floods clap their hands, and the hills be joyful together (Psalm 98:7-8). Science has recently uncovered evidence of the music of the spheres, including radio signals being emitted from the Milky Way!
Although the Bible does not record Jesus of Nazareth singing except at the Last Supper, Jesus Christ – the Lord our God – not only sings, but uses His song to express His love for and joy in His children. And in turn, we are to sing to express the joy of our salvation that we have in Him: We can sing for joy, for He has conquered sin and death and given us eternal life!
Zephaniah 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15 The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. …17 The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
While we are still on earth, we will continue in trials, disappointments, and tribulation. But praise God, we can sing through that heartache because of the joy that awaits us in Heaven! When that day comes and Christ returns for His children, we shall surround His throne with songs of praise from all nations, tribes and peoples! (Isaiah 42:9-12, Revelation 5:8, 14:2-4, 15:3).
Meanwhile, we can transcend from sorrow to joy in the Lord by singing His praises, just as Jesus sang to His Father as He prepared for the worst trial that ever was. Let us sing a new song unto the Lord (Psalms 33, 40, 96, 98, 144, 149), using each heartache to inspire a new perspective on praise!
© 2021 Laurie Collett