What would your thoughts be if you could read a book written long before you were born that described in detail your birth and the events of your whole life? What if it even told how you would die, where you would be buried and that you would come back to life, and at a later time even be made ruler over the whole earth?
Jesus read such a book. How strange it must have seemed, from His human side, to read a book that told of His unique birth, what His personality would be, how He would be despised and hated without a cause by His own people and be killed although He had done no wrong. All these things and more were written long before He was born. What must He have felt like while He was growing up, having these things on His mind night and day for at least 33 years?
Shortly after His resurrection, Jesus was walking and talking with some people who didn’t recognize Him as the resurrected Christ. They asked why the Messiah of Israel had been crucified so He answered with this. Luke 24:27. “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Jesus knew that man would despise and reject Him as the Messiah, and yet He would humble Himself, even to the point of dying for the sins of those who hated Him. Isaiah 53:3. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
Despite all this, in His time, God will make Him "higher than the kings of the earth." Psalm 89:27. “...I will make Him, my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.”
The Old Testament prophets were puzzled by this Psalm but everything was made plain in the New Testament when Christ died for our sins and God raised Him from the dead.
Please open your Bibles to Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46 records that the universe had been enveloped in total darkness for three hours when Jesus uttered those awful words on the cross. He was the “Forsaken One” of Psalm 22. The Savior of mankind was actually, literally and completely, forsaken by God the Father. He was the eternal Son of God. He had always been the object of His Father’s delight and now He was abandoned. He was the Perfect Man. He unfailingly did the will of His Father but there, on the cross, the Son of God experienced the terrible desolation of being cut off from the Father.
Why did the Holy, sinless, Son of God suffer the horrors of hell for those three long hours of darkness? The Scriptures answer this. First of all, God is holy, righteous, and just. He has to punish sin wherever He finds it. We read, in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” God has always demanded a blood sacrifice for sin. It’s just not possible for Him to overlook sin. The fact that the Lord Jesus had no sin of His own enabled Him to take the sins of the world on Himself and shed His perfect blood in mankind’s place. He took full responsibility for all mankind’s sins and paid the penalty for those sins. The debt we owed was charged to Him and He willingly paid the price. 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.”
All God’s righteous attributes demand that sin be punished. He can’t look on sin, yet His only begotten Son was taking the sin of others on Himself. There was never any doubt what God would do when He saw our sins laid on His beloved Son. It was determined in eternity past. God unleashed all the fury of His righteous wrath on His beloved Son. He was forsaken by God so that we might never be forsaken. God will not demand payment for sin twice.
Verse 2, mentions periods of light and darkness: “My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.” And, in Matthew 27:45, in the account of the crucifixion of Christ, we read, “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.” God remained silent during those three hours Jesus hung on the cross in torment and agony. He couldn’t look on His Son and He would not allow man to see Him hanging there, taking the sinner’s place in judgment.
Verses 3-5. “But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. 4. our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. 5. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed.”
Those five verses bring out a strange anomaly: a truly righteous One forsaken by God. It had never been so in the history of Israel. When they trusted God, He delivered them. The Messiah on the cross was not delivered from judgment. He was forsaken by both God and man.
Verses 6-8. “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8. He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
The New Testament confirms the people ridiculed and mocked Christ with gestures and words while He was on the cross, using words almost identical to those David used in Psalm 22. Although He was innocent, they treated Him no better than a worm you would step on.
Matthew 27:38. “Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 39. And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40. and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41. Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.’”
One of the robbers who was crucified with Him taunted Him for His claim to be the Son of God. Luke 23:39. “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” However, the other robber confessed Him as Lord and was saved.
Verse 40 of Luke 23, records that passersby blasphemed Him and wagged their heads and taunted Him, denying He was the Son of God, further fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 22. And, verses 41-43 of Matthew 27 record that the chief priests with the scribes and elders also mocked Him and denied He was the Son of God.
Psalm 22:9-10. “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. 10. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb. You have been My God.” Surely this could be applied to Jesus in His time on the cross when He was reaching out to God the Father. His mother was standing there while He hung on the cross in total darkness. Their thoughts may well have gone back to the miracle of His birth and how He had trusted God from that time on. Isaiah 49:1. “The LORD has called Me from the womb; from the womb of My mother He has made mention of My name.”
Psalm 22:11. "Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help." The Psalmist’s prayer was for God to be near to him during his terrible ordeal and surely this was the prayer of Christ while He was on the cross.
Verses 12-15. “Many bulls have surrounded Me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. 13 They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.”
The Psalmist wrote, in verse 12, that his plight was like a herd of wild bulls surrounding him. Jesus must have felt the same way when His enemies surrounded Him there on the cross. They were like a herd of wild bulls surrounding Him.
The prophecy of public scorn in verse 13, “they gape at Me with their mouths,” was fulfilled at the cross when the people “sitting down ... watched him there.” (Matthew 27:36)
How cruel society is, when people, even soldiers trained to face and cause death, can sit idly by and gaze unaffected on an innocent man being tortured to death.
Verses 14-15 describe the effects of crucifixion on the body. Certainly this describes quite accurately what Jesus suffered while hanging on the cross.
Just think of the horror of the Messiah's suffering; the agony from dislocated bones caused by the weight of His body, suspended only by the nails in His hands and feet. The pressure of His own weight shutting off the ability to breathe. Add to that the mental and spiritual torture so great that it literally melted His heart within Him. He could hang on no longer, His strength was so far gone. His mouth was dry and His tongue stuck to His jaws.
The apostle John was an eyewitness to the crucifixion and he wrote this: John 19:28. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Jesus expressed in one simple statement His weakness and suffering had brought Him to the very point of death.
Verses 16-21. “For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17. I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. 19. But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! 20. Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. 21 Save Me from the lion's mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.”
David was inspired by God to write this. It reveals someone prophetically, most certainly the Messiah of Israel, dying an awful death under very strange circumstances.
All the prophetic things in this portion of the Psalm pointed to Jesus on the cross and were fulfilled there. The congregation of the wicked that enclosed Him; the pierced hands and feet; His body distorted until you could see His bones; the soldiers gambling for His clothes.
One of the strangest parts of the prophecy is that crucifixion was a Roman and Grecian torture unknown to the Jews until the days of their captivity by the Babylonians, around 600 B.C. Capitol punishment for Jewish criminals was by stoning; and this account was written 1,000 years before the time of Christ by a man who had never seen or heard of such a method of execution. Psalm 22 graphically portrays death by crucifixion!
When David wrote this Psalm, he foretold the mystery of the cross that would not be solved until a thousand years later. The seemingly unimportant details about casting lots for His garments are also mentioned in the New Testament account. Roman soldiers, ignorant of both God and prophecy and knowing nothing and caring not at all about the importance of what they were doing, fulfilled to the slightest detail that prophecy. John 19:23-24. “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
This obscure prophecy in the Old Testament from a thousand years before, proved once again that God spoke in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. The predictions concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the Christ of the Gospels.
The rest of the chapter records a great change. Verse 22. “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” The death struggle was over. Peace and victory at last. Christ had gone from crucifixion to resurrection.
Verse 23-24. “You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! 24. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard.
When Jesus spoke the words from the cross, “It is finished,” God heard Him. And, when the repentant thief cried out to Jesus on the cross, Jesus heard him and said, “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”
Verses 25. “My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.”
The great assembly, all of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, will be in heaven to praise Him including the thief on the cross next to Him.
God made a vow to redeem fallen man and Christ paid that vow on the cross. Although He was judged unfit by man to live on earth, the Lord Jesus made man fit to live in heaven by His death on the cross.
Verse 26. “ The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!”
Here is a promise that we will enjoy all the good things of God with Jesus and live forever. The Good Shepherd is truly good. Only by personal faith in His finished work on Calvary can we become a part of this.
Verses 27-30. “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” 28. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. 29. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive. 30. A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,” In verses 27 through 30 we see prophetically the blessings that await those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.
Jesus will come back in power and glory as the Messiah of Israel on The Day of the Lord. This is spoken of in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah. "The prophets still speak."
Verse 31. “They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born.” This applies to all believers since the cross, a people not yet born at the time of His death.
The Old Testament declared His righteousness to us who weren't born at that time. Many generations have seen of the travail that the Lord went through on the cross and have accepted His forgiveness for their sins. I'm glad to say that I'm one of those, even though I didn't deserve it.
My salvation is safe and secure forever. What a wonderful statement He made on the cross when He said “It is finished!” His shed blood was the accepted sacrifice that paid it all for you and me! None of us will ever be worthy of it but He has made us fit for it. It is ours, free. We can’t buy it, we can’t work for it, it is an outright gift. It is finished! In Philippians 2:8-11, Paul made this comment about Jesus. “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ... And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.” This is the forsaken One spoken of in Psalm 22:1.
I don’t know how much longer it will be before Jesus comes back
to meet His own in the air. It may be any moment.
There are only two choices for where we will spend eternity.
If you want to go to heaven,
just confess to God with all your heart that you are a sinner,
and believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins
and you will be saved.
If you choose not to confess Him, you need do nothing.
You will die in your sins and spend eternity in hell.
Those are God’s words.