A Teaching of the Cross

During his crucifixion, Jesus hung on the cross in darkness for three hours. On the closing verge of the darkness, Jesus echoed the great question of David, recorded in Psalms (22) (Mark 15:33-34, Mtt 27:45-46, Lk 23:44): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psa 22:1). In order to understand why Jesus repeated David’s question, his crucifixion must be understood in light of Psalm 22.

By quoting the Psalm, Jesus made an intentional appeal to the Psalm’s content and a personal connection to it’s spirit of agony. The circumstances in which David penned the Psalm are unknown; however, the message of the poetic prayer clearly portrayed suffering. Much of the suffering language David used can be applied directly to Jesus’ death and was regarded as a direct fulfillment by the authors of the Gospels. Verses 6-8 of the Psalm (Ps 22:6-8) seem to describe the exact situation Jesus was in. As he hung on the wood, the spectators jeered Jesus. Matthew and Mark both describe the spectators shaking their heads (Ps 22:7) and shouting “God will save this man”(Ps 22:8; Mtt 27:38-43, Mrk 15:27-32). After Jesus had been put to the cross, the Roman soldiers divided his himatia (outer garments) and divided them among themselves. His chiton (undershirt) was one piece, so they had to cast lots to see who would keep it. John notes this as a realization of David’s Psalm (Mrk 15:24, Mtt 27:35, Jhn 19:23-24).

There is much more in Psalm 22 that the Gospel writers do not connect to Jesus’ crucifixion. Without the insights of the Gospels, it is difficult to apply all of the Psalm directly to Jesus; yet, David’s word clearly are applicable in spirit (and even the physical descriptions). Whether or not he recited the entire Psalm, Jesus came to the same conclusion David did: “It is finished”(Ps 22:31, Jhn 19:30). Then he dedicated his spirit to God and he died (Lk 23:46, Mrk 15:37, Mtt 27:50). Even while on the cross, Jesus taught something: rest in God! He used David’s deep question and made it his own while he suffered excruciating physical pain, ultimate humiliation and an intense spiritual battle (which brought about Salvation). When feeling abandoned by God, rest in him. Study Psalm 22 and discover David’s amazing insights into life.


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