Psalm 118 is a Psalm of victory. We did not read it today, but we should all read it and meditate on it this Holy Week, because it is a Psalm of victory. Jesus was treated as victorious as he entered Jerusalem (it is called the “triumphant entry”), and Jesus actually IS victorious when he dies on the cross on our behalf. This is what victory looks like.
Psalm 118 has one of the most important verses in all of scripture, and it is quoted by Paul and other New Testament writers, and the early church fathers and all the saints up to this very day: “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Jesus came, we rejected him, we killed him, and in doing so, we have made Jesus the foundation of the entire Christian faith. The most precious seed fell to earth and died, and then a forest of fruitful trees has sprung up in its place. As the song says, “like a rose trampled on the ground.” Jesus took the fall for us. This is what victory looks like.
A verse that is not quoted but is just as important as the previous one: “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.” Just as Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation of the church, Jesus is the gate of righteousness. We cannot give thanks to the Lord, we cannot be in relationship with him, unless we enter through these righteous gates—unless we come to the father through the son, through Jesus. This is what victory looks like. God has created a way for us to live in relationship with him. Once there was no way. Now there is a way.
Jesus Christ, having been at the creation of everything, when we were suffering under sin and death, emptied himself and took the form of a servant, and he died on our behalf. We rejected him, we crushed him under our heels, and in doing so, we enabled him to defeat death. He descended to the dead and defeated death. Then he rose from the dead and became the cornerstone of our faith. He rose from the dead and became the gate of righteousness, through which we can enter and be with him forever. This is what victory looks like.
Let us meditate on the victory this Holy Week.