The Amazing Crucifixion Prophecies of Psalm 22, Part 1

Title: The Amazing Crucifixion Prophecies of Psalm 22, Part 1
Text: Psalm 22
Time: April 18, 2014

The most famous Old Testament Bible prophecies concerning the atoning death of Jesus on the cross are found in Isaiah 53, the whole chapter. If you’ve never taken the time to sit down and review this famous prophetic chapter, please do so soon because it will truly astound you how a Bible writer could describe the event of the crucifixion so accurately hundreds of years before it took place. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time teaching and preaching about the prophecies of Isaiah 53 so I won’t go back over them again today – although I plan on going over them again at another time because they certainly deserve further review. But today I’d like to go over the second most famous Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ’s crucifixion found in Psalm 22. Now this section often escapes the notice of Christians, and the Isaiah prophecies get the most attention around Good Friday and Easter, but the Psalm 22 section deserves a serious review because it’s almost as amazing as the Isaiah prophecy. Psalm 22 gets pretty detailed in its description of the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and again, it was written hundreds of years before Jesus died, so it’s all prophetic. In order to talk about the most important parts of the prophecy I’ll divide it up into six parts, three parts for today and another three parts later in another message. So today I’ll talk about the first three prophetic verses as they relate to Christ’s crucifixion. Now what’s interesting is that some of the references in Psalm 22 are specifically mention in the New Testament accounts of the crucifixion as they are being fulfilled, while other parts of Psalm 22 aren’t specifically mentioned by the Gospel writers, but we can easily identify them as related to the day Christ died. So I’ll just go through the prophecies one by one and try to draw the parallels between the Old Testament description of Christ’s crucifixion and the New Testament’s reporting of it at the time. The first verse I’ll talk about today is the famous utterance of Christ on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Many people recognize this as what Jesus said on the cross before he died, but most people don’t realize that it’s an exact quote from Psalm 22. We’ll talk about it. The second verse I’ll mention in Psalm 22 is where it says, “All who see me mock me, they hurl insults, shaking their heads,” which is clearly a reference to most of the crowd surrounding the cross of Christ at his crucifixion. Finally, I’ll talk about the verse in Psalm 22 that says, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint,” which is a clear description of the physical suffering Christ endured during his crucifixion. As we can begin to see, the Old Testament references aren’t merely symbolic, they are accurate descriptions of what actually takes place on Good Friday. That’s amazing because they are prophecies given hundreds and hundreds of years before. I hope this will strength your faith and give you a deeper appreciation for what took place on the cross two thousand years ago. Let’s explore further.

First, there’s the cry of Christ on the cross to his heavenly Father. Psalm 22:1, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” And Matthew 27:46, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’” We can clearly see the parallel of the two verses. Psalm 22 is a chapter in the Book of Psalms written more or less by King David, the famous Jewish prophet and king around the year 1000 B.C. I mentioned before that this prophecy was written hundreds of years before the events were fulfilled, but it’s actually more like a thousand years before the crucifixion took place. Yet, it’s almost as if we are reading a description of the actual crucifixion report found in the Gospel accounts. It’s so detailed and so accurate that it almost causes your spine to tingle! How could anyone know what would happen a thousand years ahead? How could anyone, even a so-called prophet, be that accurate? Only through the power of God. We like to talk about the uncanny ability of some people to predict events in the future, but that’s not what is taking place in Psalm 22. It’s not prediction, it’s prophecy. One might predict that the Messiah of Israel would be put to death because his message would be so powerful and radical that the earthly powers wouldn’t stand for it, but how can one predict what the executed Messiah would say specifically? That’s what is happening in this first prophetic verse in Psalm 22. Clearly, also, Jesus is specifically quoting from Psalm 22:1 because he obviously was aware of it from his reading of the Old Testament, as any good Jew would be aware of it as well. But Jesus wasn’t merely quoting the saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” because he knew the Psalm and wanted to identify himself as the Messiah. No. He was quoting the verse because he was the Messiah and the verse was a prophecy of what the Messiah would say when he was put to death. In other words, Jesus wasn’t merely trying to make the prophecy come true by quoting it at his death; the prophecy came true because Jesus was the Messiah and really uttered the words as he died on the cross. Anybody can utter a prophecy upon there death, but that doesn’t make for a fulfillment of it. Only Jesus could be the fulfillment of the prophecy, and he was, as described in the New Testament Gospel accounts. Here’s an example of a New Testament Gospel writer reaching back into the Old Testament prophecies and reporting on their fulfillment. This first verse of Psalm 22 should get our attention, but that’s not all, there’s still more.

Second, there’s the description of the mob scene accompanying Christ’s death. Psalm 22:7-8, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads, ‘He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’” And Matthew 27:41-44, “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself. He’s the King of Israel. Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, I am the Son of
God.’ In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” There’s more to this section, but that’s the gist of it. Again, we can clearly see the parallel between the Old Testament prophecy and the actually events as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel writer doesn’t actually come out, in this instance, and point to the prophecy in Psalm 22, but it’s clear that the prophecy is being fulfilled nevertheless. It would be impossible for the gospel writers to mention every single instance of fulfilled prophecy in the New Testament because, quite literally in the ministry and life of Jesus, prophecy was being fulfilled every day, all the time. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John do point out as many prophecies as they can, and refer us back to the Old Testament reference, but not always. They also assume that we can pick up on many of the prophecies on our own, without their help pointing them out. For the Jews at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the argument of Psalm 22:8, “Let the Lord rescue him,” was compelling logic. It goes like this – If Jesus were the real Messiah, then he couldn’t just be executed by the Romans, because he would rise up, overthrow them, and lead the Jews to victory. If he could be crucified, then he wasn’t really the Messiah.” That kind of thinking might have prompted Judas to betray Jesus at first, thinking that if worse came to worse and Jesus were captured, he would simply lead the overthrow of Rome at that point and reveal himself as the Messiah. To the typical Jew, the real Messiah could never find himself in the position of being crucified. That’s why the crowd was saying, “Let the Lord rescue him.” Now who could have predicted this scene? At the coming of the Messiah, all kinds of possible scenarios could have come about. How could this one be described one thousand years beforehand? Only by the prophetic power of God. It gives us another reason to rejoice in God – because he knows the beginning, the end, and everything in between. He’s got everything under control, even if the world seems out of control at times.

Third, there’s the account of Christ’s physical suffering at the hands of the Romans. Psalm 22:12-13, “Many bulls surround me, strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey, open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” And Matthew 27:27-28, 30, “Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. . . . They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” This prophecy describes the physical suffering Christ endured at the hands of the Roman soldiers leading up to and during the crucifixion. But what’s interesting is that with all the beatings and whippings and rough treatment that Jesus put up with by the hands of the Romans, not a single bone of his body was actually broken. Psalm 22:17 says, “I can count all my bones,” which presumably means that even though he was badly bruised and bleeding, his bones were not actually broken. Even after he was dead and still hanging on the cross, the Roman soldier whose job it was to make sure the criminals were dead didn’t break the legs of Jesus as he did the other men executed. Why? Because Jesus was already dead, and was thus spared the further humiliation of having his dead body further abused. That too was a prophetic act – the soldier, by restraining from breaking the legs of Jesus was fulfilling ancient prophecy that the Messiah’s bones would not be broken! But even though Jesus’ bones were not broken, still, he suffered greatly physically. Be was bruised beyond recognition, bleeding profusely. It’s a wonder that Jesus didn’t die of blood loss even before the cross. But again, it was prophesied that he would indeed be crucified, so it had to be. Now when we look at these powerful and dramatic prophecies we ask ourselves, “Does this mean everything in life is determined ahead of time?” After all, how can these kinds of prophecies happen unless God knows and determines these things would happen beforehand? It shows that God knows all things ahead of time, but it doesn’t mean that all things are determined ahead of time. God sees things from an eternal perspective where there is neither time past, present or future – everything just is, as it is, in the now. We humans live in history with past, present and future. We can think about the past and present, but only guess about the future. That’s how we think. But God sees everything in one instance because he dwells outside of time. Remember, in the beginning God created all things, including time! The Old Testament prophets were given information from God’s perspective and wrote about events that would happen in the future. That’s prophecy. But that doesn’t mean we are all determined robots programmed to do what we do. God works with our free wills even as he knows and controls all things to work according to his will ultimately.

That should give us a healthy perspective on problems that come in our lives and in the world today. God knows all about these problems, and he has a good plan that he is working out that will ultimately produce the best results in the end. Now that takes faith on our part to be patient because we want result immediately. But that’s not how God works. I’m sure the disciples didn’t want to see Christ crucified on Friday, but they rejoiced on Sunday to see him raised from the dead! God has a good plan. We need to remember that in life when we go through various trials and struggles through the years. God has a good plan. It might not operate on the timetable we’d like, but behind everything is God’s good plan. Think about the exodus from Egypt by the Jews, long, long ago. God had a good plan to liberate them from slavery, but not until after a long, draw-out process of plagues and miracles from heaven. Only after a while did Pharaoh release the slaves to freedom. And then, even after that it wasn’t smooth sailing because they had to cross over the Red Sea to escape the soldiers. Now why didn’t God just free the slaves in one dramatic moment? Why the plagues? Why the lengthy process? We might ask the same about our own lives at times. Why doesn’t God just answer my prayer for health, or for finances, or for work, for anything? Why the process, the sometimes long and painful process? Because it must be in the will of God that it’s better that way. We can’t understand it all, so we have to trust God that he knows what he’s doing. Some people called atheists don’t want to wait for God patiently or pray or trust God for the good ending, and so they give up and quit and disbelieve in God altogether. They give up on God and give up on faith. But that’s the wrong road to take. When the going gets tough, that’s when we need even more faith. That’s when we need to increase our prayers to God. That’s when we need to turn to God in faith even more. Are you going through a struggle at this time? Don’t give up on God. He’s taking you through a process that will end ultimately for your good if you trust in him. The disciples couldn’t imagine how anything good could come of Jesus’ death on the cross. But Sunday morning came, the resurrection happened, and good came and conquered all the bad that had happened before. Don’t give up on God. Turn to him today, renew your faith in Christ this morning. Good Friday is good because we know about Sunday and the resurrection. Realize that for every suffering you go through, God’s got a blessing he’ll bring you to ultimately. Let’s pray.

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