“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
We see it on t-shirts, coffee mugs, Facebook status’ and wall plaques, but what does this verse really mean? Most commonly this Scripture is associated with hard times in our lives, as if to say, “Even this difficult day is a day from God, so I should be happy.” There is truth to that statement, and it is certainly a good thing to remember God’s sovereign love in stressful times, but this text is actually not about how we ought to deal with bad days. This verse isn’t talking about your trials, your troubles at work, or your unhappy outcomes. This Scripture is talking about God’s decisive action to save underserving sinners through Jesus Christ. This is the root of our call to rejoicing, this is foundation for our abundant gladness.
The Lord’s Stone (v.22)
The “day” that is spoken of here is the day of Christ’s rejection, the day of his crucifixion. We can see this truth from verse 22 of the psalm, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” We know from several new testament passages that Jesus Christ is the "stone" that is spoken of here. The imagery of stones can be confusing to modern ears but here is what we are meant to understand from it: Stones were the only sure foundation for ancient structures, and as the foundation they determined the strength and quality of everything that was built upon them. The world looks at Jesus and rejects him saying, “Not this stone! Give me something else…” But he is the only sure foundation for salvation, the true cornerstone from God for anyone who will be saved. In other words, if anyone, anywhere desires to be made right with God, their relationship must be built upon the work of Christ.
The Lord’s Doing (v.23)
We see in verse 23 that Jesus’ rejection wasn’t something that happened to him by mere happenstance or by the cunning of man, but rather by the perfect plan of God. “This is the Lord’s doing…” Jesus was crucified by the hands of men according to the foreknowledge of God. “…this is marvelous in our eyes.” Why? Because as all the might and pomp of humanity was gathered against the Lord at the very height of our sinful rebellion, God used the full momentum of their wickedness to amplify and infinitely display his perfect righteousness. God used their derision and rejection of Christ to offer the sinful world full acceptance and adoption through Christ. Jesus was not a victim, he was not overpowered, he was not outwitted, he was not defeated… he was laying himself down as a sacrifice for the sins of undeserving humanity, becoming the eternal cornerstone of salvation for anyone who will believe.
The Lord’s Joy (v.24)
Now we come to verse 24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad an rejoice in it.” What day? The day of God’s decisive action to save sinners through the blood of his Son. This Scripture is written for the fainthearted, for the despairing, for the feeble and anxious. Sadly there are so many people who doubt God’s love for them. They doubt his desire to save them, to help them heal and grow. But we cannot continue to make our own conclusions about the willingness and ability of God to save. We cannot rely on our own reasoning. We see that by the reasoning of men Christ himself was rejected and crucified by the most religious and devoted people in all the world! No, we must let the Lord answer for himself. Does God love you? Is he willing to save you? Is he willing to put up with your failures and shortcomings? Yes! How do we know? Because, “This is the day that the Lord has made.” What day? The day of salvation for every repentant sinner who believes. So, “let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Let God decide how much he loves you, let him determine how far he is willing to go to save you… and behold his answer on the Cross.