As we begin this study, it will be helpful if you’ll get 4 bookmarks or slips of paper and place one each at Psalm 22, Matthew 27, Mark 15, and 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, and that someone is the Lord Jesus Christ.
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. “Search the Scriptures,” He said, “…these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
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.
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 “Digging Deeper” here, you’ll be saying, “Yes, it’s all about Jesus.”
1. Turn to Psalm 22.
Just below the name of a psalm, often the name of the one who wrote it is given. Who is the human author of Psalm 22?
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, almost half (73) of the Bible’s 150 psalms were written by King David.
One thousand 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 as we “Dig Deeper” 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 the digging begin.
2. In Psalm 22:1, someone is speaking. Write the first 9 words here: “____ _____, ___ _____, ____ _____ ____ ______________ ___?” Does this sentence sound familiar?
3. Turn to Matthew’s eyewitness account of the crucifixion (27:46). Who is speaking in this verse?
4. Turn to Mark’s account (15:34). Again, who is speaking?
Both Matthew and Mark directly quote the Lord Jesus, who at that moment was speaking in Aramaic:
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?”
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. Matthew 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
5. Continue in Psalm 22 to verses 6-8, 13 and 16. Fill in the missing KEY words:
6“But I am a worm and no man; a ____________of men, and _____________ by the people. 7 All those who see Me ______________ Me; they shoot out the ____, they ________ the ________ saying, 8 ‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’ 13 They gape at me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion. 16 For dogs have __________________ me; the congregation of the ____________ has enclosed Me….” (NKJV)
6. Now turn to Matthew 27:38-44, Matthew’s eyewitness account of the crucifixion.
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 39 And those who passed by ______________ Him, ____________ their ______ 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, ___________ 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?
7. Turn back to Mark 15, verses 29-31
29 And those who passed by _________________ Him, _____________ their _______ 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.”
Turn now to Luke 23 and examine verses 35-37.
35 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.”
9. In Psalm 22:16, who has surrounded the man?
a. How does Matthew 27 describe the crowd?
b. In Mark 15, what groups make up the crowd?
(in addition to the two robbers)
c. In Luke 23, the crowd is: the people, the ____________ and the _____________.
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.
10. 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 action words that Matthew, Mark and Luke use repeatedly.
a. Matthew 27:39 and 41 says they were ____________, __________________, and _______________.
b. Mark 15:29 and 31 says they were __________________, _________________, and ________________.
c. Luke 23:35-36 says the rulers ____________ and the soldiers ____________.
THE WORDS OF THE CROWD
11. If this were not enough, what does David (Psalm 22:8) accurately record that these mockers will say?
a. Turn to Matthew 27:42-43. In your own paraphrase, what do the scribes and elders say?
b. Turn to Mark 15:30-31. In your own words, what do the passersby and the chief priests say?
c. Turn to Luke 23:37. 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
12. Back to Psalm 22:16. Note this:
“…they pierced my _________ and my ________.”
One thousand 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
13. Not by chance, David was able to say a thousand years before Jesus was born, “O my God, I cry in the ______________, but You do not hear; and in the _________ season, and am not silent” (v.2)
There was both daylight and darkness during the six 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 = 9:00 a.m. The 6th hour = 12:00 p.m. The 9th hour = 3:00 p.m.
a. Mark 15:25—“Now it was the ________ hour, and they crucified Him.” So Jesus began His agony on the cross at _____ a.m.
b. Matthew 27:45 tells us:
“Now from the ________ hour until the _______ 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. Three hours of day and three 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
14. Psalm 22:11—The psalmist says, “Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is ________ to help.”
How many of Jesus’ disciples do you recall came to His aid when He was arrested and crucified?
JESUS’ PHYSICAL TRAUMA ON THE CROSS
Poured Out Like Water/Side Pierced
15. Psalm 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 the 19th chapter of his gospel, so let’s look at that now.
a. Turn to John 19:34— “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and ________ 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 verses 31-33:
31 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?
If not, find your clue in Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:18, and Mark 14:1-2.
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
16. Continuing in Psalm 22, the rest of verse 14 says, “…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
17. 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 cleaves to my jaws…”
Refer to John 19:28. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “___ _________!”
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
18. Psalm 22:17-18—“They look and stare at me. 18 They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
a. Turn to Matthew 27:28:
“And they ____________ Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe.” 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.
19. Turn to and compare Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 15:34, John 19:23-24
a. What phrase is repeated in all four accounts?
Jewish men in that day had four minor garments and one major garment. It would be simple to divide the four 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.
b. Of the four gospel writers, John goes into the greatest detail here. In John 19:24, why did they cast lots for the seamless robe? (the human reason, based upon practicality)
c. But Matthew 27:35 gives the eternal reason. What was that? “…that is might be _________________ which was spoken by the __________________...”
Look at the detail in David’s description (v. 18) “They divide my garments among them, and for My clothing (vesture) 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
20. Psalm 22:15c through 16— “_______ have brought Me to the dust of death. 16For 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.
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 verses 1-5 of Psalm 22.
a. How many times is the word “Thou” or “You” used in vv. 1-5?
b. Why had God turned His back on the Son? The answer is in v. 3.
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.
v. 4 “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.”
v. 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, who had been in the bosom of the Father for all eternity, 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 naked upon that wicked cross, suspended between heaven and earth. He died alone, without the help of God the Father.
In those six hours, the eternities were compressed. In six 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 “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and He is governor among the nations.” This one that they stepped on, this, this worm, 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.
Because there is so much more richness in this psalm, it’s difficult to bring this study to a close. We haven’t even gotten to the Resurrection portion! For the complete message, you can hear it on air or on demand anytime beginning April 9 at www.lwf.org. Or call 1-800-274-5683 anytime to order the audio version.