The Crucified Savior

The Old Testament and the New Covenant   Part 21

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1).

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ “ (Mark 15:34).

We have been taught that Jesus spoke these words on the cross because God the Father turned His back on His Son.  While the weight of the world’s sin was upon Jesus’ shoulders, God the Father abandoned the Son.  Is this really true?  I don’t think so.

The bond between the Father and the Son is unbreakable.  I don’t believe that there was ever any separation between them.  We have no support in Scripture that “The Father and I are one” was ever broken.  I don’t believe there is any reason to think that God abandoned the Son even as He became sin for us on the cross.

So what was Jesus saying from the cross?  Jesus was speaking line one from Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1).  The rest of this Psalm is a stunning prophecy of what His death would be like with passages like, “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.  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” (Psalm 22:14-18).  Wow, does that sound like a description of the death of Jesus?

It has been suggested that in first century Israel, it was a common practice for a rabbi to speak the first line of a Psalm and expect his students to recite the rest.  Could this be happening here?  Could Jesus be saying from the cross, “For those with ears to hear, I am pointing you to the prophecy of Psalm 22; and in My death, I am its fulfillment”?

Just as the Psalmist in Psalm 22 felt that God had abandoned him, so Jesus, in the dying of His human form, likely felt that God had turned His back on Him in that moment.  However, by the end of Psalm 22, we find that God had been protecting the writer all along.  “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” (Psalm 22:24).  I especially like the phrase that God has NOT hidden His face from the afflicted.  God did not turn His back on the Son.  I believe God the Father was there with the Son at the cross.

The final verse of the Psalm says it well, “They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it” (Psalm 22:31).  Jesus “performed it”; secured our salvation through His death in our place.  A death described a thousand years before in Psalm 22.

Jesus is in the prophecy of Psalm 22, because Jesus was there from the beginning!

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