Today’s portion of Psalm 118 begins with this: “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (verses 25-26). Sound familiar? It should – these same words were cried out by the crowds on Palm Sunday, celebrated just a few days ago. “Save us” is the familiar word “Hosanna” in Hebrew.
It’s now Good Friday, and the crowds have changed their tune. They’ve gone from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him” in just a few days. Unbeknownst to them, this is the same thing. Jesus is responding to their Palm Sunday plea in the most unlikely way: he saves them by dying for them. They didn’t realize it at the time. They thought he was getting what he deserved. Instead, he was getting what they deserved.
“The Lord is God,” Psalm 118 says, “and he has made his light to shine upon us” (verse 27). Jesus goes beyond even this. He is the light who shines upon us, but on Good Friday, his light goes out. Hours of unexpected darkness surround his death.
Today is the day we commemorate our Lord’s death upon the cross. Today, we pray this prayer with the Psalmist: “You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (verses 28-29). We know that, although our Lord died, we still have cause to give thanks. Good Friday is not the end. God’s love endures forever, beyond Good Friday, into Easter and eternally. Death did not stop him. Death was part of the plan all along.
We don’t often see death as a gift, but the death of Jesus was the ultimate gift for us. He opened the door for us to die with him, and rise again with him. His death saved us. His death gave us success. Truly blessed is he who came in the name of the Lord and died for us!