Psalm 22: The Cross
By Cody Westbrook
Have you ever wondered what went through the mind of Jesus as He hung upon the cross? The Gospel accounts tell us about the scorn of the soldiers, the hatred of the Jews, the fear of the apostles, and the sorrow of Mary; but little is said of the mental state of Jesus himself. Fortunately, almost a full millennium before the death of Christ, David penned the soul-stirring words of Psalm 22. This powerful psalm eloquently relates Jesus' perspective as He bled and died for humanity's sin. David writes, almost as if he, himself, were standing at the foot of the cross peering into the mind of the Savior. His words give us a glimpse into Heaven's point of view, and help us to grasp the intense anguish of our Savior as He hung upon Calvary's tree.
The Cry of the Savior (vss. 1-5)
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me"? What a cry was made by our Savior! One can only imagine the loneliness that Christ felt on Execution Hill. Jehovah made Him a sin offering, placing the entirety of man's sin upon His shoulders. The weight of that sin must have been unbearable as Jesus realized that He had been "made to be sin" for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and that the eyes of Jehovah were too pure to look upon Him (Habakkuk 1:13), and ultimately kept Him from intervening. Yet, despite His solitude, Jesus still reverenced His Father. "But Thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3).
The Rejection of the Savior (vss. 6-13)
Can you imagine One Who left behind the splendor of Heaven for our benefit, being treated with less respect than a worm? Jesus "came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (John 1:11). The Jews desecrated His dignity and sentenced Him to a death normally reserved for the lowest of the low. David records, "But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men and despised of the people" (Psalm 22:6). Jesus truly was "a man of sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3). He was hated, scorned, mocked, spat upon, beaten, rejected, and ultimately crucified on behalf of the very ones who despised Him.
The Crucifixion of the Savior (vss. 14-18)
It is difficult to surmise a form of punishment more cruel and humiliating than crucifixion. Though undeserving, our Savior suffered this torturous death at the hand of the Romans. As His body hung there, weakened from the beating that it had taken, those who hated Him looked upon Him with a sadistic satisfaction. They are described as dogs that enclosed Him and pierced Him. They laughed and mocked, and inflicted pain to the best of their ability. The spotless Lamb of God endured this for you and me. But do we now show the same insensitivity when we reject Him today? The
Deliverance of the Savior (vss. 19-21)
In His hour of darkness, Messiah found consolation and hope only in Jehovah. "But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me" (Psalm 22:19). The Hebrews writer reveals that Christ was "heard in that he feared" (Hebrews 5:7). Truly, to whom may we turn in times of extreme need? Christ did not forsake His Father, neither did He despise Him. Rather, He called out to Him and placed His confidence in Him.
The Song of the Savior (vss. 22-31)
Messiah's song of deliverance is found in the concluding passages of Psalm 22. He sings a song of praise to Jehovah in the midst of His people. God did not leave Christ on the cross; neither did He leave Him in the tomb. Instead He brought Him forth from the grave and gave Him the victory over death. The Lord "hath not despised, nor abhorred, the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard" (Psalm 22:24). Through Christ's victory, we also gain the victory (1 Corinthians 15:55-57), that we might sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Revelation 15:3).