Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
In first century Judaism, verses 22 and 23 were understood to refer to the coming Messiah. The one who would reverse forever the oppression and instability of the Jewish nation. Its no wonder then, that the early Christian community came to interpret the speaker of verses 5-18 and 28 as Jesus. Or that the gospel writers used the language of Psalm 118 to articulate the significance of Jesus as King. His kingship was signaled at the beginning of his last Passover on earth, upon his “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem, and the gospels quote Psalm 118 not-so-subtly alluding to God’s reversal of powers. Jesus’ resurrection was for the earliest Christians an extension of God’s saving acts throughout history captured in the Psalm, and confirmation of the future resurrection of all believers. Jesus’ resurrection was the strongest, most shocking and tangible reversal witnessed by people of the first century. It still is today — history’s most striking reversal, the definitive act by which we know God’s love endures forever.
The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. The runt of the litter has become the pride of the pack. The piece of scrap metal has become the eternal engine firing on all cylinders. The discarded chip has become the portal to the world wide web. The insignificant bolt has become the linchpin of history. The unwanted penny has tipped the scales of justice toward redemption.The homeless itinerant rabbi from no-where-special has become the Messiah. The old paradigms no longer apply. God’s right hand, shorthand for God’s power in Hebrew scriptures, has acted overturning the sting of death. Victory is ours! We will not die! We will be delivered! How marvelous to behold on Easter — let’s get giddy and truly be glad. Let’s storm the gates of righteousness with humble assurance that God has reversed all the powers of oppression, injustice and death. “The hand of God has turned the tide!” For those in the Wesleyan tradition, salvation “is a present thing… it might be extended to the entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul till it is consummated in glory.” Easter is a celebration of this salvation: begun (justification), continued (sanctification) and finished (consummation). A full-orbed salvation from a God who delivered in the past, a God who delivers today and a God who will deliver again. Thank God for answered prayer! We marvel and are moved to rejoice in the day God has acted. Open gates; open tomb. Let this be Easter’s broken-record refrain of the past, present and future God of reversals: God’s love endures forever! Maddox, Randy. Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1994, p 143. Image: Gyre, 2009, Copyright © Chris JordanSong: “Even the Wind and Waves Obey Him” Salt of the Sound, Meditations Vol. 1; 2014