This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
by Rev. Joshua Hayes
The Scriptures model for us a certain kind of prayer called a Prayer of Thanksgiving. Myriad examples can be found throughout God’s Word (Luke 10:21; John 11:4142; Eph. 1:314; Phil. 4:46). A Prayer of Thanksgiving recounts the mighty acts of God to save His people: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord” (Ps. 118:17). One such Prayer of Thanksgiving, appointed for use during the week of Easter, is Psalm 118. This was Luther’s favorite psalm, which truly is the Easter Prayer of the Bible.
Read Luke 24:4449. What does Jesus say about the Psalms? Based on Jesus’ own words, how should we read and understand Psalm 118? Whom must it be about?
Take a moment to read and pray Psalm 118. What words at the beginning and end of this psalm tell you that it is a Prayer of Thanksgiv-ing? What words remind you of the passion narrative of Christ? (Read John 12:13; Matt. 21:4244.)
Jesus fulfills Psalm 118. In fact, all the individual events described in Psalm 118 happened to Jesus. He was in distress, called out to the Lord and was set free from death (Ps. 118:5). He was surrounded by all nations (Rome) during His passion and death (Ps. 118:1013). What other words and events in Psalm 118 are fulfilled in Christ?
Look at Ps. 118:24. How and when have you heard these words used before? What “day,” however, is Ps. 118:24 really talking about?
We often hear the words, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24) as a call to thank God for the beginning of a new day. Psalm 118, however, has a specific day in mind, namely, the resurrection of our Lord.
Easter is not only a day that happened long ago, but it is the day in which we now live as baptized Christians. We rejoice that the Sun of Righteousness has risen (Mal. 4:2). Based on this, for what one thing do we pray in Ps. 118:25?
The great cry of “Hosanna” (Save now) is the only petition in this prayer of thanksgiving. What does this teach us about the number one thing for which we should pray? Why is it appropriate for us to pray “Hosanna” in the liturgy of the Sacrament of the Altar?
The Lord does save. Jesus Himself is “The Lord saves” (Matt. 1:21). We now live in this day, the time of the Church, the time of grace. Sing or pray LSB 903, “This Is the Day the Lord Has Made” with Psalm 118 in mind.
> Only “44% [of Americans] see Easter as one of [the] nation’s most important holidays” (Rasmussen Reports).
About the Author: The Rev. Joshua Hayes is pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Crete, Neb.