It’s All About Jesus
The Psalm of the Crucifixion
As we begin this study, it will be helpful if you’ll get 4 bookmarks or slips of paper and place one each at Ps 22, Matt 27, Mark 15, & Luke 23. Keep them there throughout this study, for we will be looking back and forth, comparing texts.
All of the Scripture is about the Lord Jesus. In the Bible’s sacred pages, every one of us, every time and in every place we look, ought to find Jesus.
The Old Testament says Someone is coming;
The New Testament says Someone has come;
Revelation says Someone is coming again, that someone is Jesus.
If you read the Bible and don’t find Jesus, you missed it. Go back and you’ll find Him. He’ll be in prophecy, in precept, in parable, in poetry. In every book, standing somewhere in the shadows, you’ll find Jesus. Jesus said in John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
We’re going to find in Psalm 22 a moving portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ in His death upon the Cross.
“Wait a minute!” you say. “That’s the Old Testament.” That’s what I’m telling you. It’s all about Jesus. The entire Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God is written to help you to love the God of that Word and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Amazing Prophecy of the Cross
Psalm 22 is an incredible chapter. Perhaps more than any other chapter in the Bible, you cannot read it and come away not loving the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ. After this short study, you’ll be saying, “Yes, it’s all about Jesus.”
Turn to Psalm 22.
Just below the name of a psalm, often the name of the one who wrote it is given. We see that the human author of Psalm 22 is King David?
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, almost half (73) of the Bible’s 150 psalms were written by King David.
1,000 years before Jesus Christ, David prophetically foretold His crucifixion.
Since crucifixion was a Roman, not Jewish, form of execution, how is that possible? Crucifixion was completely unknown to the Jewish culture. It would be another 800 years before crucifixion came into the Jewish world. But here we find by divine inspiration a portrait of the cross.
I will tell you up front that Psalm 22 was written by divine inspiration. It’s as though one is standing at the very foot of the cross, giving an eye witness account. Let’s begin.
In Psalm 22:1, someone is speaking. Look at the first 9 words here: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?…
Does this sentence sound familiar?
Turn to Matthew’s eyewitness account of the crucifixion, Matthew 27:46.
Matt 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Who is speaking in this verse? Jesus is.
Turn to Mark’s account Mark 15:34.
Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Who is speaking here? Jesus is.
Both Matthew and Mark directly quote the Lord Jesus, who at that moment was speaking in Aramaic.
In Psalm 22:1, David prophesies an exact transcript, 1,000 years in advance, of Jesus’ last words upon the Cross.
Jesus was not looking back, quoting David. To the contrary, David was looking forward, quoting Jesus—an amazing prophetic utterance under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW CROWDS PROCESS EVENTS
Some in the crowd, not understanding Aramaic, thought Jesus was calling upon the prophet Elijah (“Eli”) to save Him.
Matt 27:47 Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!”
Mark 15:35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!”
Life experience will eventually teach you that “the crowd” is usually wrong. That’s just one reason not to fall in line like an unwitting sheep and follow along without digging deeper and searching for the truth. The crowd usually gets it wrong.
And a mob mentality can result in tragedy. Had “the crowd” not been swayed and stirred to a frenzy by the religious rulers (Mark 15:11), they would not have demanded Pilate crucify Jesus. Even though His crucifixion was part of God’s overarching plan for man’s redemption, nevertheless, it is a lesson for us in crowd-following and mob mentality.
THE ACTIONS OF THE CROWD
Ps 22:6-8 But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Ps 22:13 They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion.
Ps 22:16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;
Turn to Matthew 27:38-44, Matthew’s eyewitness account of the crucifixion.
Matt 27:38-44 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
Look at Psalm 22:8 above and Matthew 27:42. What stands out to you?
Turn to Mark 15:29-32
Mark 15:29-32 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
Turn to Luke 23:35-37
Luke 23:35-37 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”
In Psalm 22:16, who has surrounded the man?
Ps 22:16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me….
How does Matthew 27 describe the crowd?
those who passed by – the chief priests – the scribes and elders
In Mark 15, what groups make up the crowd? (in addition to the 2 robbers)
those who passed by – the chief priests – the scribes,
In Luke 23, the crowd is: the people, the rulers and the soldiers.
In a side-by-side comparison of these passages, Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s descriptions of the crowd match David’s Psalm 22 description like a template.
David prophesies that onlookers will stare at Him. In addition to taunting words, what else will they do (Psalm 22:7)?
In the following passages, look for 3 actions that Matthew, Mark & Luke use.
Matthew 27:39 & 41 says they were reviled Him, wagged their heads, and mocked Him.
Mark 15:29 & 31 says they railed at Him, wagged their heads, and mocked Him.
Luke 23:35-36 says the rulers derided Him & the soldiers mocked Him.
THE WORDS OF THE CROWD
If this were not enough, what does David accurately record in Psalm 22:8 that these mockers will say?
Ps 22:8 He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
In Matthew 27:42-43 He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.
In your own paraphrase, what do the scribes and elders say?
In Mark 15:30-31 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.
In your own words, what do the passersby and the chief priests say?
In Luke 23:37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”
What are they saying?
You may already be amazed, but we have only gotten started in Psalm 22. By this time in this study, I hope you are underlining and highlighting some things in your Bible.
THE METHOD OF CRUCIFIXION
Psalm 22:16 …They pierced My hands and My feet;
1,000 years before Jesus Christ walked the dusty shores of Galilee, the psalmist David, in prophecy, wrote of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ when crucifixion did not exist in Israel.
THE TIME OF DAY ON THE CROSS
Not by chance, David was able to say a thousand years before Jesus was born,
Ps 22:2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.
There was both daylight and darkness during the 6 agonizing hours Jesus spent upon the cross. He died at 3:00 in the afternoon. But it became midnight at high noon.
Here’s how the Jews in those days marked time:
The 3rd hour = 9 a.m. The 6th hour = 12 p.m. The 9th hour = 3 p.m.
Mark 15:25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
So Jesus began His agony on the cross at 9 a.m.
Matt 27:45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.
From high noon to the time of His death… “darkness over all the land.”
Thus, part of the time Jesus was on the cross it was daytime; another part, it was darkness. 3 hours of day and 3 hours of night, as Psalm 22:2 suggests.
The sun for thousands of years had looked down upon mayhem, murder, adultery and so much wickedness. But when Jesus, the Lamb of God, died for our sins, it hid its face and refused to shine.
THE DESERTION OF THE DISCIPLES
The psalmist says, Ps 22:11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help.
How many of Jesus’ disciples do you recall came to His aid when He was arrested and crucified? none
JESUS’ PHYSICAL TRAUMA ON THE CROSS
Poured Out Like Water/Side Pierced
Ps 22:14 I am poured out like water…
Jesus is saying, “My heart is broken and I am poured out like water.”
We have not yet brought in the Apostle John’s eyewitness account, recorded in John 19, so let’s look at that now.
John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
Scientists tell us that when the body is under great duress, this can happen.
A CLOSER LOOK: WHAT WAS THE HURRY?
Why would the soldier need to pierce His side with a spear?
Wasn’t crucifixion enough?
It meant certain death, so why the spear?
For Jesus’ enemies, it was simply a practical matter. The afternoon was growing long—3 o’clock—the Sabbath would begin at sunset. John explains in John 19:31-33
John 19:31-33 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their [the 3 being crucified] legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
Do you know why, more than other Sabbaths, this particular Sabbath is noted as a “high day” by the Jewish community?
Note Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:18, & Mark 14:1-2.
Matt 26:2 You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.
Matt 26:18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.
Mark 14:1-2 After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. 2 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.”
The piercing of Jesus’ side resulted in another fulfillment of prophecy in Psalm 34:20, “He guards all his bones. Not one of them is broken.”
It wasn’t necessary to break a bone—the centurion determined Jesus was already dead.
Bones Out of Joint
Psalm 22:14b …And all My bones are out of joint;
The historian Josephus said that when a person was crucified and they dropped the cross into its socket with a thud, the arms are twisted out of joint. When they crucified Him, His body is mercilessly distorted, hanging on that cross, the bones twisted out of joint.
A Blistering Thirst
David, looking forward down through the centuries, prophesied even to this detail. Psalm 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, [a dry, broken clay pot]; And My tongue clings to My jaws….
John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”
The One who made the oceans, the rivers, springs, and rain, is hanging upon that cross, crying out for water.
Stripped of His Clothing/Gambling for His Garments
Psalm 22:17b-18 …They look and stare at Me. 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
Matt 27:28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.
For a short time after they stripped Jesus, the soldiers put on a “royal” robe in order to mock Him, because one of the charges against Him was that He was a king.
Look at the phrase is repeated in all 4 gospel accounts.
Matt 27:35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Mark 15:24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
John 19:23-24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
Jewish men in that day had 4 minor garments and 1 major garment. It would be simple to divide the 4 minor garments among the Roman soldiers. But Jesus wore a seamless robe. They didn’t want to tear the robe—which would have been necessary to divide it—so they cast lots to decide who would get it.
Of the 4 gospel writers (Matthew, Mark Luke & John), John goes into the greatest detail here.
In John 19:24, he tells us why they cast lots for the seamless robe. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” (the human reason, based upon practicality)
But Matthew 27:35 gives the eternal reason. What was that? “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…
Look at the detail in David’s description in Ps 22:18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
Beyond doubt, David was talking about the crucifixion a thousand years before Christ was born in the flesh.
Are you astounded by the intricacy of the Word of God? The ancient Egyptians, builders of the pyramids, used to say, “We build like giants, but we finish like jewelers.” This is like our God—the great, gigantic things He has done, but the minute detail of the cross.
The Agents of the crucifixion
Psalm 22:15c-16 …You have brought Me to the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me….
We have already examined the Lord’s enemies who surrounded Him at the cross.
- “Dogs” was a term used to describe Gentiles
- “The congregation of the wicked” refers to the Jewish council members who cooked up false allegations.
- But what’s this “You have brought me to the dust of death”?
This is God the Father. Jesus suffered at the holy hand of God.
There is something in human nature that is repelled by the thought that God had any hand in the crucifixion. But look again at Psalm 22:1-5.
The word “Thou” or “You” is used at least 8 times in Psalm 22:1-5.
Ps 22:1-5 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? 2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. 5 They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
Why had God turned His back on the Son? The answer is in Psalm 22:3.
Ps 22:3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Habakkuk 1:13 says of God the Father,
“You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness.
Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he?”
Jesus Christ willingly, voluntarily, vicariously took upon Him the sin of all humanity. When Jesus Christ had all of the vile, loathsome sin of the world upon Him, God the Father had to treat Jesus as He would treat us.
He is a substitute, taking your place. And therefore, as you would become the object of the Father’s wrath, Jesus is the object of the Father’s wrath. “….Thou hast brought me into the dust of death” Psalm 22:15
Isaiah 53 helps us to understand it even better.
Isaiah 53:4 “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.”
Isaiah 53:10 “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; He has put him to grief.”
Romans 8:32 says, “God spared not His Son.”
There’s no escaping it. God the Father poured out His wrath upon His beloved Son because His beloved Son was our sacrifice.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
When I read this, my heart is deeply moved because Jesus Christ was not only alienated from the Father, He became the object of the Father’s wrath. There is no suffering that can even begin to compare to the suffering of Jesus, hanging upon that wicked cross, suspended between heaven and earth. He died alone, without the help of God the Father.
In those 6 hours, the eternities were compressed.
In 6 hours, the sins of the world were distilled, and Jesus, the Son of God, died at the holy hands of God, the hateful hands of man, and the hellish hands of Satan.
Why? Because He loves us.
As this psalm draws to a close, David foresees the day when
Ps 22:27-28 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
28 For the kingdom is the LORD’s,
And He rules over the nations.
This One that they stepped on, this One that God the Father had to hide His face from, this One that men spat upon and mocked…
He is the King of kings.
He is the Lord of lords.