Based on Mark 15:29-37
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at You now!” they yelled at Him. “You said You were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save Yourself and come down from the cross !”
The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but He can’t save Himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe Him!”
Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed Him.
Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah.
One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to Him on a reed stick so He could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take Him down!” Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed His last.
For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.
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. All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.
Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a 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 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. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 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.
But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance. Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth; From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.
I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 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.Psalm 22:1-31
Notice the nature of the criticism. It all centres around Jesus’ ability to save. In this case save Himself. The issue of whether He was Messiah or not was always in focus. According to public opinion, professional and otherwise, if Jesus were indeed Messiah then God would not leave Him on the cross. If He is Messiah He could free Himself was their thinking. So they challenge Him to save Himself either spectacularly or to come down from the cross, something that was physically impossible. As we have seen, the leading priests and teachers of the law deliberately or inadvertently lift their comments from Psalm 22. What an interesting choice. Jesus then takes the first line of the same Psalm to remind them of where salvation truly comes from. Jesus is basically reminding the religious leaders of the whole Psalm.
I have removed the allusions to the Cross from the Psalm. Notice what is left.
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 reproach of men and despised by the people. “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” You have been my God from my mother’s womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help. But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance.
Notice the first segment follows the normal pattern of the Lament Psalms. The normal human response to finding oneself in a hard place is to request God for help. Notice from the first verse that Jesus is quoting the Psalmist. It’s the Psalmist words in Christ’s mouth. “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus doesn’t not refer to God as Father which is His normal habit but changes Father to God. Why? One reason is because He is taking the words from the Psalm in response to the leaders’ use of the Psalm. But also I suspect there is a wider perspective that follows. Notice how the Psalm changes:
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard. From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 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.
Note the segments I have coloured In blue. See how it starts with the descendants of Jacob, the descendants Israel and then moves to the afflicted, all who seek Him, all the ends of the earth who will turn to the LORD (YHWH), all the families of the nations. All mortals who go down to the dust will bow before Him and worship. This will be told about the Lord to the coming generations. They will come and declare His righteousness to those of future generations (to people yet to be born) and will declare that He has performed it.
Stop and have a think about what you have just read. A summary of Psalm 22 makes it very clear that this event takes the significance beyond the Jews and sets it in the context of all the nations of the worlds even to the ends of the earth. Now where have we heard those words before? This is a climactic event that was planned from before time immemorial. No wonder there were three hours of darkness to preface Jesus comments in response to the leaders mockingly using this Psalm three hours before. This is the moment these leaders have been waiting for. Who is involved here? Is it just the lament of one psalmist named David years ago? No I don’t think so. This is the moment all the prophets predicted of Messiah who would come and set the captives free, give sight to the blind and make the lame to walk. But not only that would restore the hearts of Israel back to God and would open up a new and living way. The afflicted (of soul as well as body) will be satisfied. All those who have sought God would praise Him in this moment. All will remember (what the Scriptures have said) and rejoice in His Day and worship God. It will be told of the Lord to coming generations. Isn’t that exactly what happened after the Cross event? This was THE monumental turning point of history.
They will come and declare His Righteousness to a people who will be born, I.e. to all future generations. Now that is significant and that my friend is the reality of the Cross. That is what God accomplished in Him, in Christ. It could only happen in Christ. It won’t happen through your righteousness; you have none. (Isaiah reminds us that our righteousness is like filthy rags, the menstrual cloth). You can’t earn your way to heaven. You are made righteous and given right standing before God when you accept what Christ has done for you. He effectively says, Ian you have no righteousness of your own, despite all your religious effort. Trust Me completely, trust and keep on trusting Me and I will give you the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. I will bestow on you His imputed righteousness to give you right standing with God and access again to His Presence. That all happened AT THE CROSS. They wanted Him to come down and prove Himself. But to have done what they wanted would have destroyed forever God’s plan of salvation for all mankind. Why on earth would He turn His back on the way before Him. Is Jesus having doubts about this crucifixion? Of course not! He has told God already, I seek YOUR will Father, not mine. I know this is the right way. Oh my goodness! How right it was, how monumental the victory won because He stayed on the Cross. Imagine the consequences if He had used His Divine power to come down. Notice now the Psalm declares they will come and declare His Righteousness to all who will be born THAT HE HAS PERFORMED IT. Performed what? Only salvation for all mankind, that’s what! He has just declared “it is finished” “Tetelesthai” Paid in full. The debt of human sin has been repaid. It is fInished.
When you really look at the context of Psalm 22 the wraps come off the miracle of what God accomplished in Christ on the Cross. Paul wrote “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself”. That is what has just happened here. That is why there were THREE HOURS of darkness, not just a few minutes while clouds passed by. Oh the enormity of what has just happened in the gospel description was summed up centuries before in the Psalm which outlined the events to take place. Can you see that all Jesus is doing is responding to the RELIGIOUS LEADERS taunts when they deliberately or inadvertently used Psalm 22 to challenge Jesus to save Himself and reminding them of the big picture. They quote a portion of Psalm 22 expecting Him to save Himself. He throws the Psalm back at them by giving them the first line. They as trained rabbis and leaders, teachers of the book would know what He was doing. Oh you quote Psalm 22:8 to Me. Take into account the whole Psalm, be a good rabbi. They doubted He was Messiah. Well here was the proof yet again. Note that with Jesus use of MY God My God, He is identifying with sinful man; He is echoing the Psalmists cry. This One who is sinless is identifying with all of mankind who are in desperate need to salvation. Even in the words of the cry Jesus is being the intermediary. “There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” His cry My God My God . . . is made on behalf of all mankind.
And furthermore I hasten to add, all of the above, this new perspective on interpreting why Jesus said “My God My God, why have You forsaken me?”, does not negate the idea of God’s separation from Christ on the Cross. Is that not the symbol of the three hours of darkness? Was this not a major symbolic message to all who were present that the heavens were declaring the glory of God and declaring this One was hanging on there “on the wood between the worlds” was indeed Messiah, the One come to save them? Darkness, earthquake, the graves opening and the dead walking around add credence to it. Yes this was the culmination of centuries of prophetic declaration fulfilled in a moment in time when the Sinless One hung on a Cross for you and for me. Ponder the depths of that this Easter.
Was Jesus doubting this task He had been given? Was this cry a cry of weakness and despair? Never! It was the moment of the greatest act of love, grace and mercy the world has ever known and Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He had been telling them about this since turning point of the gospel when He set His face like flint toward Jerusalem and all that was before Him. No its not weakness. It was strength, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Its another of those Biblical paradoxes which requires much thought. An appropriate time to leave you.
Your salvation wasn’t a joint effort. You didn’t contribute a penny because you were spiritually bankrupt.Bob Gass
We refuse God’s invitation because we think He is expecting PERFECTION from us, when all He wants is INTIMACY.Sidney Mohede
“I know you have no righteousness of your own…here, have mine.”God
‘…you were redeemed [bought out of slavery and set free]… with the precious blood of Christ… ‘1 Peter 1:18-19