Portrait of the Cross from Psalm 22

Portrait of the Cross from Psalm 22

Study Guide, July 12, 2020

Pastor Clay Olsen

We pray that this will be a very special service for you in your worship experience with our Lord. Even for those of you not able to be with us to share in the Lord’s Supper, perhaps you have some elements similar to those we use in our communion, and you could partake along with us when we get to that part.

But we are going to first walk through one of the most remarkable prophetic pictures in the Scriptures. As we mentioned, we are going to look at a portrait of the Cross from Psalm 22. How amazing that from the Psalms we get pictures of the Messianic ministry of Christ! Psalm 2, you recall, is a portrait of Christ’s character and sovereignty as King over the whole Earth. And here in Psalm 22 Christ is portrayed as the suffering servant who sacrifices His life for all. So let’s look into this picture of the passion of Christ, and then we’ll partake of the Lord’s Supper together.

The Gospels record the historical facts of Christ’s death and some of the events of the crucifixion. But in Psalm 22 Jesus’ very thoughts are revealed for us. It has been the belief of many scholars that the Lord Jesus, while on the cross, quoted the entire 22nd Psalm. This could very well be since the last seven sayings of Jesus that we find in the Gospels either appear in this Psalm or the background for them is all there.

Listen to this: Ps 22:1-6- “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people.” NASU

At Jesus’ trial He was silent. When they beat Him He said nothing. When they nailed Him to a cross, He uttered not a word. But when God forsook Him, He cried out! This Psalm opens with that desperate cry of Jesus as He was sin laden and forsaken of God. We also see the Trinity in view here, as the Son of God calls out to the Father and the Holy Spirit, “My God, My God”. And the attributes of God’s holiness and love are demonstrated as well – His love, in that His Son was being offered as mankind’s sacrifice for sin; and His holiness, as the Son, the Son of love, was then forsaken while bearing the sin penalty of the world.

No one has, or ever could experience that degree of anguish. From eternity past there had been perfect unity within the Godhead. But now, even as Jesus was reconciling the world to Himself, He was being forsaken by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The Father was with Him when He was praying in the Garden; the Father was with Him when He was being rejected by many; the Father was with Him when He was on trial, but when He went to the cross and bore the sins of us all…He died alone. The Cross was His own. Note this reading by an anonymous author about that…

The Cross Was His Own

They borrowed a bed to lay His head When Christ the Lord came down;
They borrowed the colt in the mountain pass For Him to ride to town;
But the crown that He wore and the Cross that He bore Were His own–
The Cross was His own.

He borrowed the bread when the crowd He fed On the grassy mountain side,
He borrowed the dish of broken fish With which He satisfied.
But the crown that He wore and the Cross that He bore Were His own–
The Cross was His own.

He borrowed the ship in which to sit To teach the multitude;
He borrowed a nest in which to rest–He had never a home so rude;
But the crown that He wore and the Cross that He bore Were His own–
The Cross was His own.

He borrowed a room on His way to the tomb The Passover Lamb to eat;
They borrowed a cave for Him a grave, They borrowed a winding sheet.
But the crown that He wore and the Cross that He bore Were His own–
The Cross was His own.

Remember in Heb 13:5 where we are told that the Lord said this: “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” NKJV Jesus was forsaken so that we would never have to be forsaken. Amen to that? You see Brothers and Sisters, you never have to be troubled about being forsaken by God, because Jesus was forsaken in your place. This judicial sentencing, this relational forsaking by God, was included in what Jesus pronounced from the Cross when He said, “It is finished”. Jesus was forsaken ‘for us’…forsaken in our place. Part of the gift of eternal life is the fact that you and I will never be forsaken by our Heavenly Father because Jesus paid it all! Amen?

And Rom 8:32-35 reminds us: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” NKJV

Now, in that 6th verse it says, “I am a worm…a reproach of men.” The word used for ‘worm’ here referred to the ‘coccus worm’, which was used at that time for dying cloth. And note, it was especially used for dying all the curtains in the Tabernacle ‘scarlet red’. Even in the natural world, the larvae of this worm are permanently colored scarlet red from birth. Think about it: You see, when God looks at His born again children, having received Christ and His sacrifice, it’s as though God sees the scarlet covering of Christ on us; we are covered with the sacrificial blood of Christ. Our sins are forgiven, but like the blood over the doors at Passover, we are under the covering of the blood of Christ. As Rom 4:7-8 tells us: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” NKJV

Ps 22:7-8 says, “Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, “Is this the one who relies on the Lord? Then let the Lord save him!

If the Lord loves him so much, let the Lord rescue him!” NLT Usually when the mob had followed the prisoner to the cross, while he was being executed the crowd would disperse; tempers would cool, and emotions would settle. But not this crowd! One of the lowest descriptions of the hatred of these religious, but unrepentant Pharisees is found when while Jesus was dying the Gospels say, “And sitting down, they watched Him there.” You can’t get any lower than that. The vileness of the human heart poured out as they remained there and ridiculed Him in His death. Yet, it is also here where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And it’s from this that we, too, are to learn about practicing forgiveness with others.

Let’s move ahead to an absolutely amazing prophetic picture of the crucifixion. Ps 22:14-15- “I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.” NASU This description of crucifixion is remarkable when you consider that this Psalm was written 1000 years before crucifixion was even known. Rome instituted the practice of crucifixion, and the Roman Empire was not even in existence when this Psalm was written. Yet here is a picture of one dying by crucifixion. “I am poured out like water…” This is speaking of the excessive perspiration of a dying man. “All my bones are out of joint…” The horrible thing about crucifixion was that when a man began to lose blood, his strength left him, and all his bones would slip out of joint. That’s a terrible kind of suffering. Then He said something very strange – “My heart is like wax.” Doctors have cited that a ruptured heart would have produced what the Apostle John meticulously recorded – “I saw that Roman soldier put the spear in His side and there came out blood and water – not just blood, but blood and water”…that would be something like ‘wax’!

Speaking of the spear in His side and the wounds in His hands…Isa. 49:16 tells us, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of My hands.” In ranching they burn a mark into the animal’s skin. It’s a permanent mark; and we know it as a ‘brand’. Jesus let Himself be pierced, pierced with our sin. It, too, is a permanent mark. Of all the glorified bodies in Heaven, Jesus will have the only scars. It will be our mark in His skin. When you see Jesus’ hands and feet, you will be looking at your mark; it’s our brand upon the King and our Savior. It is our brand that Jesus wears. It’s our mark upon Him. And yet, it will be Jesus’ permanent message to each of us of… “This is how much I have always loved you and love you still.”

Ps 22:17-18- “I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.” NASU During crucifixion while the weight of the body drags, suffocation combines with the agony. The soldiers would often break the legs below the knees so that they couldn’t push themselves up to get another breath. But in keeping with the prophecy here none of Jesus’ bones were broken. Plus, we remember the soldiers also cast lots and divided up Jesus’ clothing, exactly as this Messianic Psalm prophesied would happen. Again, how precise a prophecy…and how amazing!

But let’s go back a couple verses and point out something else: Ps 22:15- “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.” NASU At the time of death in a crucifixion, hardly a whisper could be heard from the one dying, but with Jesus, this was unique: “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the Centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God. Mark 15:34 tells us this: “When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” NASU

Here is something we are to clearly understand: No one took Jesus’ life from Him. Jesus voluntarily gave it up. Jesus wanted everyone to understand that He was not dying as a mere human being. He was human, but He was also God. This so startled the Roman guard that he said something for which he could have been killed on the spot: “Surely, this man was the Son of God!”

Ps 22:30-31 – “Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it.” NASU “…to a people who will be born…” That’s you and me! Christ’s righteousness would become part of the gift to be given to us; Christ’s forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness, the best gifts you can ever receive! Amen? In Phil 3:9- Paul said, “…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” NASU

Remember, we are to practice righteousness in our discipleship, but as far as having perfect righteousness from having fulfilled the Law, of having done the Will of God, no human being who has ever lived has fully done the Will of God, except Jesus. So in our salvation, Jesus takes our garments of sin off of us and puts His garment of righteousness upon us, and we are thus declared ‘righteous’ and right with God forever!

And, yes, we still sin and fall short, but Jesus garment of righteousness stays on us because of something else the Psalmist prophesied about the Messiah… “…that He has performed it.” From the cross Jesus proclaimed: “It is finished!” The programmed plan from eternity past had come to completion. The phrase is actually one word: “Tetelestai – Finished!” Greek businessmen used it in business transactions that signified “Paid in Full”. Brother and Sister, your redemption is a completed ‘paid in full’ transaction.

I was thinking…you know the bracelets we often wear for different causes and such? Maybe we should wear a couple more that say “Paid in Full” and another that says, “Christ’s Righteousness”. This is all part of the Gospel message, and reasons for our joy.

Psalm 22 reveals the heart of our Savior as He was lifted up on the cross and made a sin offering on our behalf. He completed the transaction in triumph! We will never be worthy of it, we cannot earn it, we cannot achieve it, but we can receive it! And receive it we must, in order to be forgiven of our debt of sin and given Christ’s gift of His own righteousness. We trust that each of you have received Christ as your personal Savior. And then encourage others to make sure they have as well.