“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” – Matthew 26:30
This is the only record of our Lord’s singing when he was on the earth. It is worthy of special notice that it was just as he was starting out to Gethsemane that he sung a hymn with his disciples. It would not have seemed so strange to us if he had sung that night on the Transfiguration Mount, or the day he entered Jerusalem amid the people’s hosannas, or on some other occasion of great gladness and triumph; but that the only time we hear him singing should be in the darkest night of his life is very suggestive.
It tells us of the deep gladness that was in the heart of Christ under all his griefs and sorrows. He knew the agony into whose black shadows he was about to enter. He saw the cross, too, that stood just beyond Gethsemane. Yet he went out toward the darkness with songs of praise on his lips. There is a Scripture word which tells us that “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame.” This was the joy that broke forth here in a hymn of praise. It was the joy of doing the Father’s will and of saving lost souls. We get thus here another glimpse of Christ’s great heart of love.
We learn a lesson, too, for ourselves. We should go forward with joy to meet sorrow and sacrifice when we are doing our Father’s will. We should learn to sing as we enter life’s valleys of shadow. It is a great thing to be able to sing as we work, and sing as we suffer. The secret of Christ’s song here was his looking beyond the garden and the cross; he saw the reward, the glory, the redemption accomplished. If we look only at the sorrow before us, we cannot sing; but if we look on to the joy of victory, and the blessedness of the reward, and the ripened fruits that will come from the suffering, we can sing too as we enter the sorest trial.