“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26).
Do you ever picture Jesus singing? I have imagined him walking, preaching, being baptized, being spat on, and being nailed. But for some reason, I have not visualized him in a group of men whose voices are joined in song.
Yet here he is, our Savior, in a rented upper room after the Last Supper, singing what is no doubt for the last of many times with his men until after his resurrection. (We know it is his last meal with them until then; he makes a point to mention that and seems emotional about it.)
For my money, the second chapter of Hebrews is one of the most poignant scenes showing Jesus’ self-identification as a man with his fellow men. Here we find him locking arms with his brothers, one of many faces among the worshipers:
“… he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise. … Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
A group lifting voices in unison to their God is a kind of ad hoc egalitarianism, a community of vision and purpose. The Apostle Paul was not waxing merely poetic when he said of the Son of God that He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus could have said: “I don’t sing to God; I am God,” but He did not, for He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped or lorded over his brothers.
What did they sing? I suppose it was Psalms. Can you imagine Jesus and the 11 (Judas had already left the room) putting a tune to the following words written 1,500 years earlier by David?
“Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God. … I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation. … Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!”
Singing is at once the most childlike and divine of acts. They had that moment together, and then Jesus went out into the night.