Monday, August 18, 2014

the Psalm of the Cross

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Psalm 22:1-21
The whole Bible is the Word of God and therefore the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, is really the story of Jesus Christ. But sadly many times we miss that fact. We think somehow that the Old Testament has not much to do with us or our relationship with Christ. We somehow think that all we need is the New Testament books. We are mistaken. And that’s why reading about Jesus Christ in the book of Psalms is not at all an aberration- the whole book screams His name!
This particular Psalm was written by King David, concerning some of his own difficult experiences. It was written way back around 1000 BC. But right away as we read, we see that there is much more than King David going on here. David has his fair share of troubles and sufferings, but what’s included here is beyond anything he ever went through. This Psalm is directly quoted 4 times in the New Testament (1) , and in verses 12-17, we're given direct details of a crucifixion, some 400 years before crucifixion was even invented.
Because of all of this, today’s passage has also been attacked. Some people insist that this has nothing to do with Jesus. They say any connection between this Psalm and Jesus is coincidence or Christians doctoring the Bible to make it say what we want. Why? They’ve already determined that Jesus cannot be the Son of God, so anything that implies otherwise is dismissed.
But as I read Psalm 22, I don’t see a fluke or dumb luck nor do I see word twisting. Instead, I see very clearly and unmistakably the fingerprints of God’s Son. Remember: The Cross Was God’s Idea. It was not plan B. Along with that point comes its twin idea: Jesus was not a victim. So often people can buy into the false idea that Jesus was caught up in something bigger than him. That he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. That if he had carried his pepper spray and stayed out of the bad neighborhoods, he could have avoided the cross.
Jesus was not a helpless victim! Look at His own words: "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again (2)."
This is a Psalm full of pain and hurt and torture and despair, and rightly so, because it points us unmistakably to the cross. The more you examine crucifixion, the more horrible it becomes. I want you to know today, that whatever you may think about yourself, God thinks that you are worth enough to plan out, and prepare for and then, when the time was right, to send His perfect Son into a fallen world full of imperfect people- to be killed upon a cross, so that you and I can be forgiven and know Him. That is why this Psalm, like the cross is both beautiful and terrible.
(1) Psalm 22: 1, 8, 18 (see also Matthew 24:35-46, among others)
(2) John 10:17-18

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