Psalm 22 ~ 20190419 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
04/19_Good Friday; Psalm 22 – Psalm of the Cross; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20190419_good-friday.mp3
Good Friday is the most important holiday (or holy day) of the calendar. Christmas celebrates God become flesh so that as a human he could take our sins on himself and die as the perfect Man in our place. He came to die. Easter or Resurrection Sunday was the Father's seal of approval and acceptance of the finished work of his Son on the cross when he raised him from the dead. Good Friday is good... is great, really really great, because, although on it we remember the horrific realities of the crucifixion, we see in the cross the sacrifice of a substitute; Jesus took my place, he took what I deserved, he died my death, he paid my price; so that I can be forgiven, redeemed, justified, reconciled to God. I can experience new life in right relationship to the God of the universe all because of the cross.
Tonight our focus is on the Psalm of the Cross; from the cross Jesus quoted the first verse of Psalm 22, and quite possibly referred to the last verse. The New Testament is very sparse on details of the crucifixion; the gospels simply state 'they crucified him.' But the Psalm Jesus quoted gives us insight into the heart of Jesus, what he was experiencing, what he was feeling.
So tonight you will hear 3 pairs of readings from the first half of Psalm 22; the first reading in each pair uses 'I, me, or my,' expressing the experience of the innocent sufferer. In the second reading in each pair the focus is on God, 'you, you, you,' expressing the sufferer's unwavering hope in God in spite of his circumstances. Psalm 22 is a cry of distress from the middle of excruciating affliction.
Around the readings you will have opportunity to respond in worship by singing God's praise and celebrating his amazing love.
The end of the Psalm [v.22-31] leaps forward, looking to the future realization of hope, after the experience of rescue, of worship in the congregation.
I intend to look at the ending section of the Psalm on Resurrection Sunday, so I hope you will come back Sunday to hear the rest of this!
Psalm 22 is a song of the innocent sufferer who feels abandoned by his God. David, who wrote the Psalm felt it. Some of you have felt it. There have been times when I have felt it. Psalm 22 gives us words to express our anguish, and it gives us hope. There may be times when we feel it, but if we are honest, the language of this Psalm is deeper than anything any of us have experienced.
Psalm 22 points us forward to the truly innocent sufferer, the one who 'knew no sin' who was 'made to be sin for us'. The gospel writers use the language of this Psalm in their accounts of the crucifixion.
I'd like to walk through some of what this Psalm tells us.
It begins by a cry of abandonment; this is what Jesus cried out from the cross [Mt.27:46; Mk.15:34]. He has been forsaken by God, God is not coming to his rescue, he seems not even to be listening. He can find no rest.
Verses 3-5 affirm the holy character of God and take hope in the past rescue of God's people. God has always proved faithful to those who trust in him. But in some ways this remembering serves to intensify the anguish; God rescued them, why is he not rescuing me? They were not put to shame, yet I am being put to shame. Why?
Verses 6-8 express the dehumanizing effect of the mockery. He is reduced to the lowest life form; a worm writhing in pain. Scorned, despised, mocked.
His accusers even throw his trust in God back in his face; twice the Father affirmed from heaven 'this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' If YHWH truly delights in him, why is he not delivering him now, in his greatest moment of need? We hear verse 8 from the lips of the leaders of Israel in Matthew 27:43
Verses 9-11 express the innocent sufferer's own personal experience of trustful dependence on the Lord when he was most helpless, even from birth. He repeats his desperate cry 'Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.' All his earthly friends have abandoned him, and he now feels distant from his God.
Verses 12-18 liken those he is surrounded by to wild beasts; bulls, a lion, wild dogs. He is surrounded by ferocious enemies, evildoers. In the middle of the strong bulls and wild dogs is a lion, the rending and roaring lion, prowling, seeking to devour. This is satanic attack.
Verses 14 and 15 describe with graphic imagery the physical trauma of crucifixion. Bones literally out of joint from being stretched out and nailed to the tree, and the jar of the cross being erected and dropped into a hole in the ground.
Extreme fatigue, exhaustion and dehydration from being exposed to the heat of the sun, and the extreme effort required to take each breath. 'My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.' The one who told the woman from Samaria:
From the cross, Jesus uttered this word 'I thirst' [Jn.19:28]. Jesus experienced unquenchable thirst, so that we could drink of his living water and never be thirsty forever.
In response to this cry, as Psalm 69 says:
'I am poured out like water... my heart... is melted within my breast.' When the soldier pierced his heart with a spear, we are told [Jn.19:34] that immediately blood and water gushed out.
'They have pierced my hands and feet' The LXX, translated some 100-200 years BC understood the difficult Hebrew word as 'pierced'. This lines up with the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10 'when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced,' When doubting Thomas objected
Jesus offered him the evidence he requested “Put your finger here, and see my hands ...Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
'I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.' (v.17-18); Even before he was dead, they were fighting over his only earthly possessions; his clothing. Jesus hung naked, exposed and vulnerable, so that our shame would be covered, so that we could be forever clothed in the robes of his perfect righteousness.
The end of verse 15 reads: 'You have deposited me in the dust of death' Throughout this Psalm the innocent sufferer is addressing YHWH; it is ultimately God who has done it; God has delivered him over to death.
In verses 19-21 he repeats his opening plea; 'do not be far off' The bones out of joint, the hands and feet pierced, the thirst, the exposure, the broken heart – nothing compared to the feeling of God-forsakenness. For the eternal Son of God to experience the Father turning his back, his favor turned to displeasure, his smile turned to a frown as he bore my sins in those hours on that cursed tree, to be abandoned, forsaken by the one he shared intimate fellowship with for all eternity, this was the agony of the cross. Jesus experienced separation from his Father, abandonment, distance in relationship, so that I would never have to.
If we jump down to the end of this Psalm, it reads:
He has done it. This is not very different from Jesus' words from the cross: 'It is finished' It is paid in full! He has done it!
Remember, reflect on what he has done for you. Receive him, his gift of eternal life. He has done it. There is nothing left for you to do but to receive the gift. It is finished. Let me pray for you, and then we will close by singing together the chorus of an old familiar hymn. I hope to see you all Sunday morning!
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org