Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
A Song of Victory
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.[a] 25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.[b] We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.[c]
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
(Emphasis in above passages, mine)
We are in Lent, a time of spiritual preparation, reflection, introspection as we prepare to receive the great gift of God’s mercy demonstrated in the suffering, death, and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus commemorated on Easter.
In this season, I am challenging us to use this time to adopt practices that will transform our lives for good, for good.
We have been talking about several key areas of life to be transformed with God’s help and power with the goal of getting healthier spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Following Easter, we will resume the series and finish up considering transformation relationally, vocationally, and financially.
Today we are joining with Christians throughout the ages who have rejoiced over the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, before the days leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.
Commentator Lee H. Butler invites us to look at the Psalm as a statement about the building of community. In this context, the ‘builders’ referenced in vs. 22 can be thought to be those who control the norms of the society—for good or for bad.
Rejected stones might be those deemed less desirable than others. Those deemed less worthy of having a role in the building. Who might be the outcasts, the rejected stones, in our time?
Ps. 118 focuses our attention on God, who sees things, sees people, differently than the way we see them. God accepts all people regardless of the distinctions we impose on each other or that time imposes on us, and will use for good what we, in our limited understanding or sinful prejudice, may reject.
On Palm Sunday, we join the crowd in Jerusalem that was calling out to Jesus—the one who saves us. But we know how the week ends. The builders who reject Jesus as king, Lord of all, and cornerstone (as he himself points out in the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are not just the chief priests, but many of those who had been shouting Hosanna and even the disciples too.
The Psalmist cries out for help—help with unbelief and help to counteract doubt with faith. We want to be more loving and giving, more understanding, but we succumb to fear, apathy, selfishness, closed-mindedness, we are prone to distraction and we still may reject who and what God chooses and directs to achieve God’s purposes.
The good news is that our shortcomings do not stop God from overcoming.
Good Friday is coming with all its suffering and pain, but praise be to God that Easter is coming too! Jesus shows us the way to turn our stones of hurt and hopelessness into stones of healing and of hope that will build up and not tear down.
The children’s story, Stone Soup, helps illustrate this point. A traveling stranger visits a town where no one feels they have anything to share with the hungry visitor. He uses a stone as a basis for the “best soup” and ends up inspiring everyone to contribute to a delectable meal….. The result is a banquet, perhaps one fit for a king!
When we transform the stones representing rejection for one reason or another to ones of invitation, bringing out the best in ourselves and each other, then God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. We will have a foretaste of that banquet that is being prepared for those who believe, from every tribe and every nation, who will one day stand before the throne of grace, before the King of Kings. When we use our stones in this way, we will know this is God’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! (Ps. 118: 23) O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever.
Don’t let rocks shout out for you (Luke 19:40) —go and tell the good news and help us as a church to tell it in our community, that we are building up, stone by stone.