By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
In researching the words spoken from the cross, this week we find a concept that has troubled a lot of believers. Matthew and Mark both record that Jesus cried out, “’My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46 and (Mark 15:34).
Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary, “’Why hast thou forsaken me?’ is the language of a heart binding up its happiness in God’s favor.” Christ endured the separation, abandonment and alienation that sin brought between him and God.
The exact phrase was written by David more than a thousand years earlier to introduce Psalm 22. Many of his writings were sung in the synagogues, and rather than having titles or headings, a ‘song’ was announced by the leader speaking the first few words of the psalm.
Psalms 23-25 are part of the Messianic Trilogy, a glimpse of the promised deliverer of the Jews. Psalm 22 seems different from anything else by David. Nothing in his life paralleled the meek and mild person depicted, especially when David referred to his enemies. But the parallels David drew to the crucifixion of Jesus are remarkable.
Any Jewish person standing at Calvary that day would have been familiar with the content, if not the exact words from the psalm. David wrote, “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him” (Psalm 22:7,8). The religious leaders mocked, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now” (Matthew 27:43).
The words of David: “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” (Psalm 22:15). Jesus said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment” (Psalm 22:17–18). “They crucified him, and divided his garments, casting lots” (Matthew 27:35).
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted” (Psalm 22:14). “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34).
The thief on the cross had heard Jesus’ words of forgiveness, had seen the inscription, “King of the Jews” and became a believer. The centurion who’d witnessed countless executions experienced something in the way Jesus died that caused him to say in awe, “Certainly this is a righteous man! (Luke 23:47). On the other hand, those who knew the scriptures were surely struck with dread as they realized the prophecies playing out and their part in crucifying the Son of God.
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before You” (Psalm 22:26–27).
In quoting Psalm 22 with his final breaths, Jesus is saying to us this is no accident, I feel your pain, the best is yet to come. He also promises to never leave or forsake us. The bottom line is, God has a plan and it includes you.