“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” (Psalm 22:1).
As Christians, there are some fundamental truths we accept and understand. All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). The wages of our sins is death (Romans 6:23). However, God offers us the gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus (John 3:16). For those of us who have accepted this gracious gift of God, we understand Jesus bore our sins (1 Peter 2:24). The prophet Isaiah summarizes very well what God did for us in allowing Jesus to bear our sins: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
God laid on Jesus our iniquity! When we think of Jesus’ going to the cross to bear our sins, it is very humbling. We were powerless to save ourselves from our sins. In order for us to be saved, someone had to pay the death penalty for our sins in order to satisfy God’s justice. The person who paid the price for our sins was a person who committed no sin Himself, God’s own Son (1 Peter 1:18-19)!
When I read Psalm 22, it vividly reminds me of the incredible mental anguish Jesus went through on the cross for me. This is the passage of Scripture that came to Jesus’ mind as he hung on the cross for my sins and from which He quoted. As the opening verses above indicate, He felt forsaken by God His Father (Psalm 22:1-2; cf. Matthew 27:46). As He experienced the horrific pain on the cross, He had to endure the ridicule of those who passed by and observed his agony: “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’" (Psalm 22:6-8; cf. Matthew 27:41-44). Instead of being surrounded and encouraged by loved ones as He was going through Death’s door, Jesus was surrounded by enemies and was the target of all their hatred as He was dying: “Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have surrounded Me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion” (Psalm 22:11-13). His enemies not only took Jesus’ life, they even had the gall to take His last possessions as He was dying. They literally took the clothes of His back as they murdered Him: “They divide My garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35).
Not only did Jesus undergo incredible mental anguish upon the cross, I can only imagine the heartache God the Father went through as He thought of His Son recalling Psalm 22 which said such things as, “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God”, and “But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me!” (Psalm 22:9-10, 19). As a father myself, I can’t imagine not helping my child as they plead with me to rescue their life!
But God knew there was no other way to save mankind from sin. The wages of sin was death. In order for God to be a just God and uphold justice, the penalty of sin must be paid. Because of God’s incredible love both He and His Son experienced significant heartache for a moment in time at the cross so I would not have to experience an eternity of mental anguish in hell. Today, I will praise God His willingness to do this for me and will rejoice in His incredible love for me!
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1).