The Crucifixion of Christ Prophesied
September 24, 2000 | Andy Davis
Humiliation of Christ
Jesus Spoke & Lived the OT Scriptures
Speak in an interweaving way of the living word, the written word, and the Living Word Jesus Christ. This morning, we're going to look at perhaps one of the greatest and clearest prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament, Psalm 22. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, He cried out, "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani,” which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This is a cry from the depths of one under the judgment of God, as we believe Jesus, bearing our sins, cried out of the forsakeness, the god-forsakenness of his status there on the cross. But I think he was doing more than just that. You see, Jesus lived a life totally dependent on and interwoven with the written word of God, His whole life had been laid out before He'd even been born, laid out in prophecies of scripture. His birthplace, for example, He was born in Bethlehem, according to Micah Chapter 5, Verse 2, his mother was to be a virgin, according to Isaiah 7:14, and she was. He was to grow up in Galilee according to Isaiah 9:1, He was to do miracles, according to Isaiah 35:4-6. He was to speak in parables according to Psalm 78:2. He was to be rejected by his own people, according to Psalm 118:22. He was even to be betrayed by one of his close friends who shared his own bread, for 30 pieces of silver, 30, not 29, not 31, but 30 pieces of silver, according to Psalm 41:9 and Zechariah 11:13.
But more than that, Jesus in his everyday life relied on the written word of God. When tempted by the devil, He answered three times with scripture, “It is written,” “It is written,” “It is written.” The first time He laid it all out for us plainly. When He said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” Jesus didn't just preach it, He lived it. Total dependence moment by moment on the written word of God. When some came to threaten his life in John chapter 10, they were ready to execute him for the things He had claimed. Jesus reached for Psalm 82:6, “I said, you are gods.” How many of us would have even known where Psalm 82 was, never mind what it said, never mind how it was applicable to this very situation? Jesus' mind was saturated with the Old Testament, for that's all that was available in his day, the written word of God.
Now, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, crying out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", there were some around the cross who heard Him cry. Franco Zeffirelli in his masterpiece, “Jesus of Nazareth” picks up on this, the pathos of that moment, Jesus' enemies around the cross, they're looking up at him, and Jesus cries out, "Eli, Eli lama sabachthani." People say, "Oh listen, He's calling for Elijah." They didn't hear it right or something, or their minds were dark and they didn't hear it properly. Zeffirelli has one of his bitterest foes looking up and just gets a wistful look on his face, kind of puzzled, almost. He said, "No. No, He's not calling Elijah, He's quoting the scripture." Even here, even now, hanging on the cross, He's quoting Scripture, and he just shook his head in amazement because he considered Jesus to be an imposter, and yet He wouldn't let it go. Even on the cross, He's quoting Scripture.
I believe that Jesus was crying out from the depths of a spiritual separation between him and God because of his role as our substitute. But could it be that He was doing more than that, could it be that He was pointing our attention back to Psalm 22? I think perhaps so, for Psalm 22 gives perhaps the clearest depiction in all of the Old Testament about what was happening to Jesus right at that moment, namely crucifixion. Now, 100 years after Jesus, a Roman who came to personal faith in Christ, named Justin Martyr, started having dialogues with Jewish people and he wrote one of them down, it was entitled, “Dialogue with Trypho the Jew.” This is just 100 years after Christ, it’s four generations after Jesus. He points to Psalm 22, and specifically to Verse 16, which says, “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” What is this? This piercing of the hands and the feet. He said, "It was the prophetic spirit." That's what Justin Martyr called it, “the Holy Spirit.” The prophetic spirit in David, which was predicting Jesus' crucifixion, with these words, they have pierced my hands and my feet." Trypho the Jew wasn't buying it. He didn't believe in that. Justin Martyr turns up the heat a little bit in the dialogue, and he says, "You are indeed blind when you deny that the above mentioned psalm was spoken of Christ, for you fail to see that no one among your people who has ever been called King ever had his hands and his feet pierced while alive and died by this mystery that is the cross, except this Jesus only." A mere 100 years after Jesus, this clear testimony of the power of Psalm 22 to predict the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The Centerpiece of apostolic evangelism is OT Scripture
The centerpiece of apostolic evangelism, the evangelism of the apostles, was Old Testament scripture. They were constantly going from place to place, proving from the scriptures, the Old Testament, that Jesus was the Christ. This came, I believe, from Jesus' 40-day seminar that He had with them after his resurrection. He spent 40 days with His apostles and He taught them everything that was in the scriptures concerning him. In Moses and in the Psalms and Prophets, and then the Writings as well, in every aspect of Old Testament scripture. There was Christ, there was Christ, there was Christ, a clear testimony to his life. Peter picked up on it, and in his first sermon after Pentecost, he stands up, actually, on the day of Pentecost, and preaches boldly and powerfully, fearlessly. Power of the spirit has come on him, he's not afraid of death anymore, why? Because he's seen the risen Lord, there is nothing they can do to shut him up. But not only does the Holy Spirit gave him power and courage in the face of death, it also saturates his mind in Old Testament scripture. Peter quotes, Joel Chapter 2, Psalm 16, Psalm 1-10, and by my count, almost half of all the verses of that sermon were Old Testament quotations or allusions.
Peter later wrote in 1 Peter 1, the Spirit of Christ was inside the prophets, like inside David, predicting the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. The Holy Spirit laid it all ahead of time, and he worked in a man like David to let us know. The apostle Paul picked up on this. At the beginning of Paul's ministry, Saul of Tarsus is breathing out threats and murder. He's on his way to Damascus. A bright light flashes from the heaven, he falls to the ground, he is converted, he comes to faith in Christ, and not only did scales fall from his eyes when he was baptized, but also a veil from his heart. He refers to this veil in 2 Corinthians 3, when he says, "A veil covers their hearts." Whenever the Old Testament is read, the Jews he's referring to, but when anyone turns to Christ, the veil falls away, and suddenly the scriptures came alive, and he could see things he'd never seen before. It says that, once Saul began preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God, he grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
How do you think he did that? He said, “Let's open up and look. Let's look at the Torah. Let's look at the writings of Moses. Let's look at the writings of the wisdom literature, and let's look at Psalms, and you'll see it all there.” He baffled them, they'd never noticed these things before, and it was Saul, this convert, instantly showing them. At the end of his life, he did the same thing in Acts 28:23. From morning till evening, he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God, this was to the Jews, and tried to convince them about Jesus, from the law of Moses and from the prophets. He said, "Open your Bibles, let's look, let's read along, here it is." This was the centerpiece of apostolic evangelism —open your Bible and look.
Many times in between the beginning of his Christian life on the road of Damascus and the end of his Christian life in Rome, he did the same thing. In Thessalonica, he did the same thing, in Acts 17: 2-3. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue and on three Sabbath days, he reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. When he had the Scriptures open, what do you think he went to, to talk about the sufferings of Christ? Could it be Psalm 22? I think so. Paul's own summary of his whole ministry comes in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried and that He was raised from the dead on the third day according to scriptures.” The death according to scripture, the resurrection according to scripture. That's the way he preached, and my question to us, as 21st century, Christians, can you do that? Could you evangelize just from the Old Testament, could you prove and explain from the Old Testament scriptures, how Jesus is the Christ and the fulfillment of all of them? Perhaps now you can do Psalm 2, and Psalm 69 and after today, Psalm 22. Just wait until we get to Psalm 16, the resurrection Psalm. It's so powerful, and it's all been laid out here, incredible detail in the prophecies.
Just as Jesus was being arrested, Peter draws the sword, he's about to defend Jesus so that Jesus would not be arrested. Jesus says, "Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will also die by the sword." And then He said, "You know, if I wanted to get out of this, I would call on my Father, and He will at once put in my defense, more than 12 legions of angels." But listen, what He says next, "But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" Not just that it must happen, but that it must happen this way. Everything had been laid out very carefully in advance, and this is going to become evident today as we look a little more carefully at Psalm 22.
The prophecy of Psalm 22
Beginning at verse 1, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning, oh my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer by night, and I'm not silent. Yet, you are enthroned as a holy one. You are the praise of Israel, in you, our fathers put their trust, they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved. In you, they trusted, and were not disappointed, but I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people, all who see me, mock me, they hurl insults, shaking their heads, 'He trusts in the Lord, let the Lord rescue him, let Him deliver him, since he delights in Him.' Yet you, brought me out of the womb, you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast, from birth, I was cast upon you from my mother's womb, you have been my God, do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me, strong bulls of Bashan encircle me, roaring lions tearing their prey, open their mouths wide against me, I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax, it has melted away within me, my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me. They have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones, people stare and gloat over me, they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O Lord, be not far off. O my strength come quickly to help me, deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs, rescue me from the mouth of the lions, save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my brothers, in the congregation, I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise Him. All you descendants of Jacob honor him. Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel, for he has not despised or disdained the sufferings of his afflicted one, he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly. Before those who fear you, will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied. They who seek the Lord will praise him. May your hearts live forever. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship, all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him, those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him. Future generations will be told about the Lord, they will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn, for He has done it."
Now, this is a Psalm of David, and David had his own context in writing it. The modern commentators have all different kinds of ideas about these kinds of psalms. I think it really depends on their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I really believe that, because if they don't know the Lord, they tend to try to create a separation between David and Christ, so they will say that David here is struggling with physical illness. He's sick, and as he's dealing with illness, he's using metaphorical language to talk about those struggles. Well, there is some evidence. He says, "I am a worm and not a man." Verse 14, “poured out like water, my bones are out of the joint, heart-melting like wax.” Verse 15, “strength dried up, tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay in the dust of death.” Could be, except for some other verses that are in there as well. I really think that the issue here is, like many of David's lament psalms, whenever he's struggling, it's almost always his own sin or attacks from political and personal enemies, that tends to be what he grieves over, and I think in this case, it's the latter he's dealing with, political and personal enemies. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown," said Shakespeare, and as that crown is on your head, it weighs heavy, and there are people who want to take it from you and they're willing to plot against you. David lived a whole life with enemies wanting to take his life, and so in verses 12 and 13, you get the sense of being surrounded by enemies, “many bulls surround me, strong bulls of Bashan encircle me, roaring lions tearing their prey, open their mouths wide against me.” Then in verse 16, “dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me.” This doesn't line up too well with illness, really it's a personal attack from enemies, but the clincher is in verse 20, verse 19-21 says, "But you, O Lord, be not far off, O my strength come quickly to help me." Verse 20, “Deliver my life from the sword.” Well, there it is, he's threatened with the sword, his enemies are seeking to assassinate him, to kill him, and he's threatened by them. Verse 21, “Rescue me from the mouth of the lion, save me from the horns of wild oxen.” He's not suffering from physical illness, but he's afraid he's going to be killed by these adversaries.
The psalm breaks up into two main sections, verse 1 through 21 is a cycle of lament and trust. Verse 22 through 31 is thanksgiving for deliverance, present and future. So there's the sad part and the happy part. Verse 1 through 21, the sad part, verse 22 through 31, the happy part, that's how it works. Now, in verse 1 through 21, the sad or difficult part, it's a cycle of lament and trust, he's going back and forth, he says, “I am this, but you are that, I am this, but you were that,” he's going back and forth. Any of you who have gone through afflictions, perhaps you've lost a loved one, perhaps you are ill, or perhaps there's some kind of persecutor, a difficulty in your life, you know how you move back and forth between the poles, don't you? Sometimes struggling and suffering with what's going on and other times, trusting in the Lord and praying for him to change the circumstances. Any of you who have suffered, you know what I'm talking about, and David does the same thing. First lament in verse 1, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Then in verse 3 through 5, he turns to the Lord, the national savior of Israel. He remembers that His forefathers trusted in God and were rescued. Then he goes back to a second lament in verse 6 through 8, "I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by people." So in the first cycle of lament, he feels forsaken by God, in the second cycle of lament, verse 6 through 8, he feels forsaken by people and abandoned and rejected. Then he comes back to confidence in God, verse 9 through 11, where the first was a national confidence, now here's the personal confidence, as he said, I've trusted in you from my mother's breast, from when I was first, a little baby, I began to trust in you. So he's going over his own history, and sometimes that's helpful when you go through affliction, you forget who God is, your circumstances become so powerful that you forget that God never changes, and that the resources for facing your trial are unshakable, will never change, that's who God is.
The final lament, verse 12 through 18 is so clearly depicting crucifixion, that it's hard for me to even imagine what David was talking about. As Justin Martyr put it, “How are David's hands and feet pierced? What's going on there?” I think there comes a point where the prophetic spirit, the Holy Spirit, just lifts David up above his immediate circumstances to speak words of prophecy about Christ. That's what's going on, I believe in 12 -18, he's encircled by attackers, and then he finishes up with a prayer for deliverance, 19 through 21. That's the sad part, a cycle of lament and trust back and forth, and then David moves to the happy part, just like that, from 21 to 22, there's no warning. All of a sudden, we're giving thanks and praise. It's almost like a resurrection. Could it be? Verse 22, he praises God. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers in the congregation, I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him, all you descendants of Jacob, honor him." So he's praising God. In verses 22 through 26, he's praising God for his present deliverance from his immediate situation, and then again, he lifts his eyes, the vision to an eternal kingdom. 27 through 31, the end of the Psalm; some things that are so rich that I can't share them with you today. I'm going to do it another time, the power of the worldwide advance of the kingdom of Christ, based on what he accomplished in the first half of Psalm 22. That's David's situation.
Let's be done with David now and move on to Christ because there are some aspects of David's life that do not line up with Christ, some aspects of his situation that are not Christ. We need to focus on Jesus Christ, and Psalm 22 depicts the sufferings and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in powerful ways. Look over in Matthew 27, and what we're going to do is we're going to compare the way that Matthew wrote the crucifixion account with Psalm 22, and you're going to see so clearly the fulfillments of Psalm 22 as to be beyond question. Matthew 27, 32- 50 but stay in Psalm 22, we're going to be moving back and forth so that you can see what it is. There's two real aspects here of the fulfillment. The first is that the whole scene and circumstances are set up by Psalm 22, and there's four different aspects of that. Then there's the crucifixion itself, the very mode and manner of Jesus' death focused in on Psalm 22 as well.Let's look at the first, the scene is set in the Gospels, right from Psalm 22, the first is in Matthew 27:35, look at it. Matthew 27:35 says, “When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” What's so amazing about this, and this is the key to the whole thing of prophetic scripture: who was it that divided up Jesus' clothes by casting lots? It was the Roman soldiers. Wait a minute, that's a problem. Roman soldiers didn't know Psalm 22:18, how are they going to know to do this? They're probably born in some part of Italy, got on a boat and came to Palestine, the last place they wanted to be. There’s a centurion and a bunch of other soldiers, hot and bothered, another crucifixion to do, they don't want to be here. “This is the worst place, it's so hot, the food is terrible, and now we have to kill another one of these Jewish rebels. maybe I can get a garment out of it, maybe I can get a cloak or something for my trouble.” That's what he's thinking. But God's thoughts are so much higher above. The Roman doesn't know, Psalm 22:18, but God does, and this is the key to the whole thing, is that God is sovereign over human events. He saw over people who don't know him, even over the people who don't love him, God rules over all, so when they're rolling the dice and casting lots, they're fulfilling prophecy, even though they didn't know what they were doing, this is the key to it all. Our God is a sovereign God.
Now look at Verse 39, it says, "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads." They're insulting Christ and they're shaking their heads. That's prophesied in Psalm 22:7. Look back. Keep your finger in both. "All who see me mock me, they hurl insults, shaking their heads." Do you see that? They're shaking their heads, even the head gestures of Jesus' enemies prophesied. What about the content of the mocking? Look at verse 41-43, "In the same way, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. He saved others, they said, but he can't save himself. He's the king of Israel. Let him come down now from the cross, and we'll believe in him." Here it is, Matthew 27:43, "He trusts in God, let God rescue him now, if he wants him, for He said, I am the Son of God."
Of course, the Jews, the chief priests, teachers of the law, they knew Psalm 22, but they sure weren't trying to quote scripture here. They opened up their hateful mouths, and insulting Jesus, they fulfilled prophecy to the letter. Look back at Psalm 22:8, "He trusts in the Lord, let the Lord rescue him, let Him deliver him since He delights in him." Their lines in the play had been scripted a thousand years ahead of time. King David wrote this a thousand years before Jesus fulfilled it, and it wasn't just Jesus fulfilling it, it was the Roman soldiers casting lots, it was the Jewish enemies casting insults, fulfilling scripture to the letter.
The whole scene is set in Psalm 22, but then comes the crucifixion itself. Now go back to Psalm 22, and let's look at verses 12-18. Crucifixion itself is depicted very plainly in verses 12-18, "Many bulls surround me, strong bulls of Bashan encircle me, roaring lions tearing their prey, open their mouths, wide against me, I am poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint, my heart has turned to wax, it has melted away within me, my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay me in the dust of death, dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet, I can count all my bones, people stare and gloat over me, they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." Can't you see Jesus' crucifixion, as you read those verses? Isn't it so plain? Let me pull out the elements for you, first, there's dehydration. It says in Psalm 22: 14-15, “the tongue cleaves to the roof of his mouth.” Do you remember one of the seven things that Jesus said from the cross was, “I thirst.” The thirst of Christ, that fulfilled Psalm 69, because they gave him vinegar to drink, you see, the whole thing had been worked out, but first comes the dehydration which comes from the crucifixion. What about exposure? Just the exposure of your whole body up there in the cross, couldn't be more exposed. Verse 17, it says, "I can count all my bones." So there is Jesus, and he can see his whole body, it's just exposed and out in the open, and then there's disfigurement, not only can he count all his bones, but his bones, according to verse 14 are out of joint, there's a kind of a twisting of the arms and of the legs, disfigurement. Then there's the encirclement, we've talked about it, but the bulls and the wolves and the dogs, just surrounding, a sense that He is in the center and everyone's looking and staring and gloating. There's a crowd yelling, there's a center, and the center is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah, Zechariah, and Revelation speak of the Crucifixion
Then there's the piercing. Now, I'll tell you something, I have wrestled with this, “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” Like any good pastor, you want to go back, not to the NIV or the NASB or the KJV or any of these, but you want to go back to the Hebrew, the original writings. If you were to look back in the Hebrew writings, we have the manuscripts, of course, we don't have Psalm 22, the original. God has seen fit that we don't have any original scriptures, we only have copies. Now, as you read the copy, it says something like this, "Dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me, like a lion, my hands and feet." Does that make sense to you? Like a lion, my hands and feet, doesn't make sense to me either. Now, the Greek is a little bit more interesting, translated 200 or 300 years before Jesus, the Greek translation says, “they have dug my hands and feet,” so that's like a piercing or a tunneling, and that's where it comes from. That's why I believe Justin Martyr talks about the piercing. But what of the Hebrew? I've wrestled with this. It also bothered me in the New Testament that this is never directly quoted, but yet I will say this, the piercing is clearly predicted. Jesus would be pierced, not just from this Scripture, but also from two others, in Isaiah 53:5, it says, “He was pierced for our transgression.” No problem with the text. Jesus would be pierced for our transgression, He would be crushed for our iniquity. Isaiah 53:5, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed.” So even if Justin Martyr's friend, Trypho the Jews said,”’It’s not in Psalm 22, there it is in Isaiah 53, you can't get away from it. “They've pierced my hands and my feet.” Then in Zechariah 12:10, it says, "I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication." Zechariah 12:10, "They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a first-born son." John uses that as a fulfillment for the thrust of the spear or lance into Jesus' side. There's no question that Jesus would be pierced. The Book of Revelation talks about it. Revelation 1:17 says, "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him, so shall it be, amen." What is so amazing about all this? That Jesus would die on a cross, pierced, crucified. Okay, so I'm convinced. Psalm 22 teaches crucifixion, so what? Well, crucifixion hadn't even been invented yet. It was invented about 500 years after David wrote this. There was nothing like this in Jewish culture. There was no piercing of hands and feet, they killed by stoning. What was David thinking? Well, I don't really care that much what David was thinking, I care what God was doing through David at that moment. I don't think David understood it. I think he wrote it and didn't fully understand what he was writing. But we understand because we're looking back at history now.
In Psalm 22, Jesus while hanging on the cross, said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There it is. Well, what do we do with this information? What if David saw the crucifixion of Christ in advance? How does it affect my life? Number one, first of all, if you're a Christian, it is that you may know the certainty of the things you've been taught. It says in Luke 1:4, that's why he wrote Luke's Gospel, that you may know the certainty of the things you have taught. This is not something that God threw together at the last minute, the gospel, it's not something where he said, "Gee, I don't know what I'm going to do about sinners, I wouldn't mind having a few of them up here with me in Heaven. How are we going to get them up there. I don't know, well, why don't we kinda throw something together?" That is not God's way, but from eternity past, He has worked out this Gospel message. It says in Romans 1:2, that this is the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, it's been predicted, all of it, ahead of time.
Revelation 13:8 says that Jesus is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He died at the foundation of the world, not literally, but in the mind of God. He had it all worked out, and Jesus said that the scripture has said very plainly it would happen in this way, but there's a theological significance to it as well. It says in Galatians Chapter 3, that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us as it is written, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” He had to be crucified in order to be hung on a tree, that you may know the certainty of the things you've been taught. But the second and more plain, is that you know that Jesus suffered in your place. When Jesus cried out, He said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" There is a God-forsakenness that we face as sinners here in this life. We don't walk with God, we don't love him, we don't know him, we don't follow his ways. But how much worse is that god-forsakenness that's waiting everyone who dies in sin and goes to hell. Hell is a God-forsaken place. I have witnessed, and I tell you with tears and with grief at the jokes that non-Christians give over hell. “All my friends are going to be down there, and I'm going to be partying with them. No, you're not. It's a place of utter darkness. All the good things that God has lavished on you in this world, He will lavish none of them in hell. What good things? The sun comes up on the evil and the righteous, and He sends rain on the evil and the righteous, He gives you sunshine, He gives you rain, He gives you good food, He gives you good friends and clothes and comforts and entertainment and all kinds of things. None of that in hell. Now, for we, who are Christians, we know that, we don't want to go to hell. Jesus suffered hell for us. When He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Martin Luther looked at that and said, "You know, I feel forsaken because of my sins." But when he came to Psalm 22, he said, "Why did Jesus feel forsaken? What did he do? He was sinless and blameless, he was perfect in all his ways. Why did he feel forsaken?" It’s that exchange. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, including the god-forsakenness, so that we in Christ might become the righteousness of God. He suffered in our place, so that we don't have to suffer hell, we don't have to suffer forsakeness from God. Quite the opposite, Hebrews 13:5, “He has promised, I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.” Never, he's going to be with you forever. Because of what Jesus accomplished, He says, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Like Jesus, the Christian suffers
We say, “You will never leave me, you'll never forsake me, because of what Jesus accomplished.” Does that mean, we don't need to suffer? No, we still have some suffering, we don't drink Jesus' cup, but we drink drops from his cup. Jesus said to James and John, "You will indeed drink from my cup." He said, "If anyone's not willing to pick up this cross daily and follow me, he's not worthy to be my disciple." We have to be willing to suffer with Christ. Hebrews 13:12-13, “Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood, let us then go to him, outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.” This is a problem for us, American Christians. We don't want to bear any disgrace, we want a comfortable easy life, and we don't want to bear any suffering because of the cross of Jesus Christ, but Hebrews says, “Go outside the camp, go and bear the insult and the disgrace that were poured on him because people hate God.” Go stand near the cross and you'll know what it's like, and the closer you get to the cross. The closer you get to Jesus, the more you'll know what this suffering is, and the more you will understand. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me, for whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” If you want to share in Jesus' reward, you have to share in his suffering. “Now, if we are children, then we are heirs,” Romans 8:17, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings, in order that we may also share in His glory.” That's how it works. Some of his followers would be crucified, literally, crucified. Peter, tradition has it, was crucified upside down, in Rome. He didn't want to be crucified right side up because he said that he didn't want to be like his savior. He wasn't worthy of it. So he was crucified upside down, and Jesus prophesied this whole thing in Matthew 23:34, he said to the enemies, the Jewish enemies that were opposing him, he said, "Therefore I'm sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify, others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town." They would be crucified. When God brings you to your time of suffering, look to Jesus and realize he's already suffered in your place, you're not suffering for your sins, but you're suffering that others may hear the Gospel, you're suffering that others may come to personal faith in Christ. Go outside the city gate and bear the reproach that He bore.
Now, the last one is so rich that we don't have time for it today, so I've decided that I would do this again in another sermon. In verses 22-31, there is a whole worldwide feast of celebration that comes out of this, and it's remarkable because it's broken up into Jew first and then Gentile. It's too hard to explain right now, but I'll tell you very plainly, in verse 22, Jesus says, He will declare His name, God's name to his brothers. Hebrews picks up on this, and it's so beautiful, because right after Jesus rose from the dead, He sees Mary Magdalene, right outside the tomb, and she's weeping, she's crying, she's looking at Jesus, doesn't know it's him, finally she understands that it's him. Remember what Jesus said? "Go and tell my brothers, go and tell my brothers, I'm going to my God and their God, to my Father and your Father." He speaks that way after his crucifixion, He is our brother and as a result of that, there is an extension of worldwide kingdom that is coming. Verses 27 through 31 say, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will bow down before Him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations, all the rich of the earth will feast and worship, all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him, those who cannot keep themselves alive, posterity will serve him, future generations will be told about the Lord, they will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn, for He has done this.” We see the worldwide scope of the kingdom, all the peoples in the ends of the earth, all the families of nations, we see the deep repentance of the gospel, they will remember and turn to the Lord. We see the humbling before the King, they're going to bow down before Him, and they're going to honor Him, we see joyful, feasting and worship, all the rich of the earth will feast and worship. We see total inability, any other way, those who cannot keep themselves alive, we see this Gospel being preached through all history, it says, posterity, future generations and a people yet unborn will hear this message. A Gospel will be preached, it will be told about the Lord, they will proclaim His righteousness, since it's the preaching of the Gospel. It is a God-centered gospel, for He and He alone has done it. Psalm 22 is a clear depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Jesus died in our place, He died the death we deserve under the wrath and curse of God. If you have never come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if there's never been a time that you knew that Jesus was standing in your place, to be your savior, your sin bearer, won't you come to Christ today?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the beauty and the clarity of predictive prophecy, we thank you for Psalm 22, we thank you for how Jesus' crucifixion is laid out as plainly as ink on a page and we can read it. We thank you, O Lord, for the power that it has to give us certainty of the things we've been taught, and now I pray for those that have not yet given their lives to you, Lord, Father, that they would today be pierced in their heart, realize that they need a savior and come to personal faith in you, Father, and for the rest of us, that we might be willing to take up our cross daily and follow you, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.