The Great Messianic Psalm
Text: Psalm 22
Proposition: If Psalm 22 was what Christ was cried out as He hung on the cross it becomes for the church a bracing against suffering and a lifting up to see His glory.
Introduction: This morning we are going to look at one of the most extraordinary passages of Scripture in the entire Bible. It’s extraordinary because of the historical context, it’s unique because of the insight it gives and it’s profound because of the implication woven into every phrase. Here’s where we first recognize this passage, have a look at this… http://youtu.be/oWK4N5LIUWk. It’s been thought that some of what Christ struggled to speak as He died on the cross was the reciting of Psalm 22, a Psalm written by King David about 1000 years before the event of Jesus crucifixion. It’s called a Messianic Psalm because its content can only refer to the Messiah that Israel looked for and hoped in even though the fulfillment of it happened a thousand years later. Turn with me to Psalm 22 as we listen to the words of David speak of what he was experiencing and yet at the same time are the words of a prophet pointing to the greatest event in the history of all mankind.
I. Forsaken, Perfectly.
We know from the context of David’s life that Saul’s pursuit of him was relentless and that many times it seemed like death was imminent. Many times David must have remembered how Samuel had anointed him with oil signifying that David was God’s choice to be the next king of Israel and yet here he was hanging onto life by a thread. Look at these first three verses. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime but You do not hear and in the night season and am not silent. But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Notice that there is complaint but that there is also confidence. Despite the fact that God does not do what I think He should do yet He is perfect or holy in what He does. For David that meant anguish of soul as he wondered how this would end, it meant feeling forsaken because of the circumstances and yet by faith being confident that God had all things perfectly in His control. We can understand what was happening in David’s life, but what of Jesus as hung on the cross? Was He indeed in some way forsaken by the Father? To answer this we have to remember that Jesus was both completely human and completely divine. In His divinity with the Father He is the Second Person of the Trinity, meaning that God is One God made up of three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. On Christmas Eve I shared with you a symbol that is a good picture of what this means. We worship One God, a God that Communicates, that values Community and cherishes Communion. That’s the essence of John 1:1. The theologians call the connection between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit a ‘hypostatic union’, meaning a union that cannot be broken if God is to be God as we know Him. So how was Jesus ‘forsaken’ if that union could not be broken? The answer is that when the Father pushed all the debt of mankind’s sin upon Jesus, a term that is called ‘imputing’, that sin was imputed to the perfect humanity of Jesus, to His sinless human nature. It was at that moment that the Father, as the song says, ‘turned His face away’ from the Son’s sin filled humanity. It’s why Paul wrote what he did in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In His humanity He was forsaken but in His deity He remained as God in union with the Father. He was forsaken, perfectly. Some think that Jesus cried out the words of Psalm 22 in the way that people cry out Psalm 23 as death comes near. Some think that He continued to recite the whole Psalm not as complaint but as a voice of confidence in His Father… “but You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”
II. Ridiculed, Wondrously.
Look at verses 6,7,8, “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, "He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"” It’s strange that the word for ‘worm’ is often translated, ‘scarlet’. Perhaps it’s because the female "coccus ilicis" worm, common to this area, when ready to give birth would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. Was Jesus thinking of how He was about to give His life for all those who would by faith trust in Him for eternal life, His scarlet blood upon the tree of the cross? The ridicule wondrously spoke past the evident circumstances to the greater reality of what was taking place right before their eyes. The rescue they thought that Jesus needed would have become for them a great loss. Had Christ not died on the cross for our sins we would be yet trapped in them. Because Jesus trusted in the Father, the Father would deliver Him, not from death but through death. They never saw the resurrection coming because they didn’t realize what it would cost for their resurrection. The Son delighted in the Father and even more in doing the Father’s will. His will was that the Son would be ridiculed, wondrously.
III. Humanity, Divinely Given.
Consider verses 9,10,11. “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God. Be not far from Me, for trouble is near for there is none to help.” In the very midst of the intensity of the crucifixion Jesus remembers the Fathers’ care from the beginnings of birth to the present moments. Is there any point in your life when it was just you who made things happen? If you are tempted to say yes then think again, you are and always have been a dependent. For some of you that will be an irritating statement because we strive for independence yet from the womb God has been in your life and trouble has not been far behind you. The humanity of Jesus was divinely given for us that we would see a Savior who knows what trouble is, what hunger and poverty are, what being betrayed and rejected are all about. This is our Jesus and as He called upon the Father, trusted in Him and cast Himself upon the Father’s care, we too are to follow in those steps. His humanity was divinely given that we would see God and see how to live by faith.
IV. Life Saving, Crucifixion.
Consider verses 14 to 18… “I am poured out like water and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death for dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” What David describes in Psalm 22 was not used until 1000 years later when the Romans refined the practice of crucifixion. It was state sanctioned torture, a tool meant to bring a person to the edge of death and then keep them there, a primitive deterrent to all who would defy Roman law. But it was not only state sanctioned torture, it was public humiliation, tearing down the soul and spirit even as it ripped and tore the body. The point is simply this, Jesus alone bore the agonies of the cross. Neither the Romans nor the Jews were responsible for His death. Our sin is why He chose to endure the unspeakable agony of crucifixion. In Matt. 27:51 it says that when Jesus died the veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The Son of God was torn from the realms of heaven to the blood soaked earth signifying a new way to God through that torn body. It was life saving crucifixion, by His stripes we are healed.
V. It Is Finished Is a New Beginning.
When Christ uttered the phrase, “It is finished” what He referred to was the last part of this Psalm from verses 22 to 31. There is now an assembly all over the world down through every age of people that have been bought by the blood of Christ. There is now a glory given to God the Father by that church. There is now deep satisfaction to be had by those in Christ. There is now a kingdom of God on earth growing and reaching out to people from nation and language. This church will continue to the end of the times of the Gentiles and then on forever into eternity. There is an end to the works and eventually to the person of Satan, his deception is now undone by the cross of Christ. It is finished is a new beginning!