Good Friday & Psalm 22

When I became a Christian, I read the New Testament immediately and all the way through. I couldn't get enough. Christ revealed himself to me in ways unimaginable. I was forever blessed.

I had a great mentor who allowed me to ask many questions. There were a few that stuck with me for a very long time. Good Friday has one of the biggest. It wasn't until 2 years ago I found my answer.

My question dealt with reconciling Jesus' words on the Cross with his mission. He predicted his own death, even death on a cross, yet when he was on the Cross he screams out, "Eloi, Eloi lema Sabachthani?!" Which translated means, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?!"

How could Jesus decide the God had forsaken him? Jesus knew he was going to die like this? I could understand crying out in pain. I could even understand crying out for mercy or even to be released. But concluding that God had abandoned him, that seemed like he was calling the whole thing off.

Until I read Psalm 22.

The footnotes in scripture had pointed to Psalm 22, but lets be honest, there are a lot of footnotes. Finally, almost 10 years into being a Christian, I heard someone explain that Jesus was making a bigger statement.

The people would have sung the Psalms. They knew all of them by heart and they were probably songs that people sung. There are many scholars who believe that Jesus was revealing to the people, again, that the Psalms were about him, especially 22. So when Jesus cries out  "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" (the opening words to Psalm 22) he would have alluded to the whole Psalm.

I like to think that after Jesus cries out this great cry of pain and anguish, all the Jews around would have continued singing it and that their voices would be a comfort to him on the cross and the connection of Jesus to the Psalms would have given them a better understanding of who he was.

Compare Matthew 27 with Psalm 22 (below):

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
   and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
   enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
   they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
   in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
   scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
   they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
   let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
   you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
   and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
   for trouble is near
   and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,
   strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
   like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
   it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
   you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;
   a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;

I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
   O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
   my life from the power of the dog!
   Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
   in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
   All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
   stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
   the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
   but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
   my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
   May your hearts live for ever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
   and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
   shall worship before him.

For dominion belongs to the Lord,
   and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
   before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
   and I shall live for him.

Posterity will serve him;
   future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
   saying that he has done it.
 May you grow a deeper understanding of Christ and his action this day so many years ago. May you come to see that the pain he endured was for you. And let all the people say that he has done it/ It is finished!


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