The Saviour’s Cross
INTRODUCTION: At the end of this message we will be pausing to observe the Lord's Supper.
This is a time during which we pause to REMEMBER the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a time during which we pause to REFLECT on our soul's relation to Christ, to thank and praise Him for what He did for us at Calvary.
With that in mind, what better way can we REMEMBER and REFLECT upon the Lord Jesus Christ than by reading one of the sixteen great Psalms which speaks of the Messiah, in whole or in part. Psalm 22 is one of these Messianic Psalms.
As we begin, it would be appropriate to consider an overview of Psalm 22, 23, and 24. It is these three Psalms, all written by David, that form a TRILOGY, on the "shepherding" ministry of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 22 is the Psalm of the Saviour's cross and it depicts Christ as the GOOD SHEPHERD, dying for His sheep.
Psalm 23 is the Psalm of the Shepherd’s care and it depicts Christ as the GREAT SHEPHERD, giving care and comfort to you and me, His sheep.
Psalm 24 is the Psalm of the Sovereign’s crown and it depicts Christ as the CHIEF SHEPHERD, one day coming for His sheep.
This morning we want to look at Psalm 22 which predicts and pictures the intense suffering of Christ. The Psalm describes two aspects of our Lord's ministry.
Number 1: We have the CRY or SOB of the crucified in verse 1-16. This is the SUFFERING rejected Saviour.
Number 2: We have the SONG of the glorified in verse 22-31. This is the GLORY of the resurrected King.
It appears that Peter had this Psalm in mind when he wrote in I Peter 1:10-11,
"Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching what…manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify, when He testified beforehand the SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST AND THE GLORY THAT SHOULD FOLLOW."
THE SUFFERING, REJECTED SAVIOUR, verses 1-21: Because of the length of this Psalm, I will only be reading portions of it, therefore I encourage you sometime in the next week to read the Psalm in its entirety along with these notes.
Before we study from Psalm 22 the three different kinds of suffering that our Lord endured at Calvary, we need to note the special way that this first section is put together.
The writer speaks about himself in verses 1-2, 6-8, and 11-18. Then he speaks about or specifically to God in verses 3-5, 9-10, 19-21.
Perhaps there is a basic principle here for us to understand and apply in our own times of suffering and trial. If we look only at ourselves, we will be tempted to drown in an ever-deepening self-pity. Instead, we must look away from ourselves and unto God who is our strength and deliverer in time of need.
Now notice with me the three areas of suffering that our Lord endured:
First: He was FORSAKEN by the Father, verses 1-3a.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (2) O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (3) But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
Prophetically, here we have our Lord's fourth utterance from the cross. It was a desolate cry made after the three hours of darkness at the ninth hour, which would have been 3:00 in the afternoon. In Matthew 27:46 we read, "…Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eli, Eli, Lama sabach'thani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me."
This word out of our Lord's mouth STARTLES us. Here we behold, "THE RIGHTEOUS ONE FORSAKEN" as our Lord for the first and only time in His earthly ministry interrupts the progression of using "My Father" and cries, "MY God, My God, why has Thou FORSAKEN ME?"
Why was this question asked?
All of a sudden, right in the middle of His agony on the cross, why did Jesus cry, "My God, My God…"?
The answer is found here in verse 3 speaking of God, "But Thou art holy." At the Cross God exhibited His holiness and satisfied His justice by pouring out His wrath on the one who was made sin for us. What human pen is fit to write about the HOLINESS OF GOD?
So holy is God that mortal man cannot look upon Him in His being and live.
So holy is God that the very heavens are not clean in His sight.
So holy is God that even the seraphim veil their faces before Him.
So holy is God that when Isaiah had a vision of His glory he exclaimed in Isaiah 6:6, "Woe is me! for I am undone … for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Host."
It was also because the Saviour was bearing our sins that the HOLY GOD would not look on Him, turned His face from Him, and forsook Him.
Because Habakkuk 1:13 tells us "God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." At the cross God's justice was satisfied and His Holiness vindicated.
This is the true explanation of Calvary. God's holy character could not do less than JUDGE SIN even though it be found on Christ Himself.
Before I leave this verse let me point out one more thing, that being the word "forsaken." The word means:
"to denounce, to abandon, to desert someone, and to leave one helpless."
There on the cross, Jesus literally being DISOWNED and DENOUNCED by the Father, had to cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou ABANDONED Me?" What then must it have meant to be "forsaken" now by God! The hiding of God's face from Him was the bitter cup the redeemer had to drink. The desertion by His heavenly Father was:
the climax of Christ's grief,
the height of the intensity of his suffering, and
the deepest depth of His sorrow.
Jesus was willing for your sins and for my sins to be laid upon Him, so that God could DENOUNCE, DISOWN and ABANDON Him, so you and I would not have to be forever (as II Thessalonians 1:9 tells us) punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.
Let me quote John 3:16 this way, "For God so loved YOU that He was willing to DENOUNCE His only begotten Son, That YOU who believe should never be DENOUNCED, but have everlasting life."
And that my friends is exactly what God did, because He LOVED YOU and ME. Since Jesus was found guilty in my stead, His own Father turned His back on Him and thus Jesus cried "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?"
Here was a cry of desolation, may you never echo it.
Here was a cry of separation, may you never experience it.
Here was a cry of expiation, or atonement, may you appropriate its virtues.
Second: He was DESPISED by the People, verses 6-13, 16, 20-21. Our Lord was not treated like a human being, but like a worm! Notice verses 6-8:
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (7) All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, (8) He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”
Can you imagine that they looked upon Jesus as a common worm, lower than a man, worthless, defenseless, and treated with utter contempt. The picture is one of base brutality. Note that the comparisons given are all related to beasts:
There were the BULLS, verse 12.
There were the LIONS, verse 13, 21.
There were the DOGS, verse 16, 20.
There were the unicorns or WILD OXON, verse 21.
When men reject God's truth, they become like beasts! Just imagine all of these bloodthirsty beasts surrounding a little worm!
As far as His nation was concerned, He was "no man."
They rejected Him socially, for they called Him a friend of sinners.
He was denied His legal rights, for He was arrested and tried illegally and then considered guilty before the case was even heard!
While He was suffering on the cross, they ridiculed Him. Verse 8 is the second of the 5 messianic references in Psalm 22. Here again we find this fulfilled in the actions of those around the cross in Matthew 27:39-43.
“And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, (40) And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. (41) Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, (42) He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be 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.”
Third: He was CRUCIFIED, verses 11-21. This long section is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The fact that such a description is found here is amazing, because the Jews did not practice crucifixion.
This horrible from of death was devised by the Medes and Persians. The Romans borrowed it from the Phoenicians.
The closest thing Israel had to crucifixion was the hanging of a dead body on a tree, that's why Paul said in Galatians 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree."
What a vivid description this passage gives us of the crucifixion.
Verse 14, The bones, including the hands, arms, shoulders, and legs were not broken, but out of joint. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:”
Verse 14, His heart was affected. "my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
Verse 15 speaks of the terrible thirst that the victims always felt. “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws…” Remember our Lord's fifth saying on the cross from John 19:28, "I thirst." He who freely gives us the water of life, Himself thirsted on the cross.
Verse 16 tells us "They pierced my hands and my feet." Here is the third of the 5 messianic passages in Psalm 22. Oh, Jesus was wounded and pierced with the nails through his hands and feet for you and me. The hymn-writer wrote,
“There on the cross
He was wounded for me;
Gone my transgressions,
and now I am free,
All because Jesus was wounded for me.”
Verse 17 talks about the shameful fact of the body of Christ publicly exposed before the people who went by, “I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.”
Verse 18 is the fourth of 5 messianic verses in Psalm 22. “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Matthew 27:35 records the fulfillment of this verse. It was customary for the four Roman soldiers in charge of a crucifixion to share whatever goods they could get from their victims. They spilt his garments but cast lots for His seamless robe.
You know, as you meditate on these first 21 verses, you cannot help but be amazed that the Son of God would endure all of this for lost sinners, like you and me. Is it any wonder we sing,
In the old rugged cross,
stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For 'twas on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
The GLORY of the Resurrected King, verses 22-21. “Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. (22) I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” Verse 21 closes the crucifixion of Christ, and verse 22 opens the resurrection section.
Now while the emphasis in the first section was on PRAYER, the emphasis in this last section of Psalm 22 is on PRAISE. Follow me as I read this last section from verses 22-26.
“I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. (23) Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. (24) For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. (25) My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. (26) The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live forever.”
And why should there not be PRAISE, as Jesus lives again? After-all the Gospel clearly says, "…that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that HE ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY according to the scriptures."
Do we not sing?
He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and
Talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He LIVES WITHIN MY HEART.
What a thrill to read the concluding verses 27-31.
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. (28) For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations. (29) All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. (30) A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. (31) They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.”
Verse 29 indicates that both rich and poor high and low, must depend on God for their very life. “They that be fat” refers to prosperous people while “they that go down to the dust” refers to the poor class of people.
In verse 30 the phrase "A seed shall serve Him" means that he shall have a spiritual family because of His death and resurrection. In fact, the writer, with prophetic insight, looked down the centuries and saw that people yet unborn would share in the blessings of his work at Calvary and His triumph over the grave.
How thrilling it is that the work of Christ on the cross will reach around the world until the end of time!
He was crucified in an obscure nation, and in the midst of an unimportant people, as far as the world is concerned. Yet this event has eternal consequences for every man woman, boy and girl.
Twenty-one centuries later you are sitting here this morning with all the cares, concerns and problems of life surrounding you. Therefore you may be wondering what importance Psalm 22 is to you personally? Let me remind you that Jesus died on the cross for lost sinners, and that includes all of us. Have you trusted Him? Unless you have, what He did for you will mean absolutely nothing.
During the administration of President Andrew Jackson, a man named George Wilson was convicted of robbing the United States mail and was sentenced to be hanged. Intercession was made on Wilson's behalf, and President Jackson granted him a pardon. But Wilson refused to accept it!
The authorities were perplexed, so they turned the problem over to Chief Justice John Marshall. This was his conclusion:
"A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson in this case must be hanged."
Our Lord's death and resurrection have power whether you trust Him or not, but they can have no power for you apart from your own personal faith. Will you, if you have not already done this, seek Him, turn to Him, and trust Him so that your heart might live?
As we ponder these thoughts in preparation for communion, listen to the words of the hymn that summarizes what Psalm 22 proclaims.
One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain.
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering in anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my redeemer is He!
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
Living, He loved me; dying, he saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away.
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He's coming, oh, glorious day!
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “The Saviour’s Cross” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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