Psalm 22 TALK: Golgotha’s Cry

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

PSALM 22 TALK

GOLGOTHA’S CRY

(THE VICTORY OF THE GREAT SUFFERER)

INTRODUCTION

 “They have pieced my hands and my feet” and “they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”, sounds like a quote from one of the Gospel writers of the New Testament describing the crucifixion of Jesus. No, they are quotes from Psalm 22 written by David a thousand years before the birth of Christ. Yet this Psalm reveals details of a death by crucifixion, and other events that are not found in the life of David himself! The Romans invented Crucifixion 900 years later and yet we have this Psalm describing with incredible accuracy this very form of tortuous death that Jesus endured to save us from our sins.

The most famous words of this Psalm are from the first verse,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”,

Quoted by Jesus himself as he hung on the cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem sometimes called Golgotha, the place of the scull. This desperate cry of Jesus, God’s only son, who knew no wrong became sin for us. When his father in heaven turned his back on him he made this “Golgotha Cry” which haunts this Psalm, a Psalm of a great sufferer.

We will now have a closer look at this Psalm together and before we do I would like you to note that this Psalm has a series of four cries which are followed by some words of hope only each time to be dashed by the despair and pain of the sufferer. However the last 9 verses speak of great deliverance and victory reminding us of the great victory Jesus had on the third day when he rose from the dead and fifty or so days later ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand side of his father.

This Psalm has an unusual structure, it can be divided into 2 sections and section A) has 7 parts and section B) has two.

A)    THE SUFFERING

1.   A PITIFUL CRY FOR HELP    (1 – 2)

2.   APPEALS IN THE PAST NEVER IN VAIN    (3 – 5)

3.   MOCKING PERSECUTION BY HIS ENEMIES    (6 –  8)

4.   A PLEA FOR HELP TO A GOD WHO DELIVERS    (9 –  11)

5.   THE FEELING OF BEING HOPELESSLY TRAPPED    (12 –13)

6.   THE DEPTH OF THE MISERY THE SUFFERE ENDURES    (14 –18)

7.   THE LAST DESPARATE PLEA OF THE SUFFERER    (19 – 21)

 

B)     THE DELIVERANCE

1.   PRAISE FOR THE SUFFERERS DELIVERANCE   (22 – 25)

2.  THE DELIVERANCE RELEVANCE TO THE WORLD   (26 – 31)

Lets read Psalm 22

 “1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved; n you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he

delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s

breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me, 
for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to

wax; it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my

mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierce

my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!

Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not

hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who

fear you  will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him—may

your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel

before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it”.

 A)   THE SUFFERING

1.   A PITIFUL CRY FOR HELP    (1 – 2)

As I said in the introduction the first nine words of this Psalm are the very words Jesus uses as he hung on the cross. Golgotha’s cry, uttered by Jesus in his  agony as he felt the full weight of the sin’s of the whole world. This Psalm can only be understood when seen as a prophecy of the suffering Messiah similar to words written about 300 hundred years later and 700 years before Christ and his death on the cross. I am referring to Isaiah 53.

Particularly Isaiah 53 : 3 – 5,

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, 
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed”.

We will explore what Christ went through on the cross to save us from our sins. We not just look at the physical suffering of Christ, as bad as it was it will not compare to his spiritual suffering.

Isaiah captures some of the physical and spiritual suffering when he says,

“like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not”.

However even though Jesus was mocked, torched and left to die by cruel men his cry is not addressed to them but to God his father himself.

This is the true agony of Jesus as he had up to this point of time enjoyed a very special relationship with his Father and now it was as though because of what Jesus had become on that cross his father had to turn his back on his very own son. In every sense Jesus was now utterly alone. The most agonizing torture method is said to be dark and confined solitary confinement. Jesus is suffering this along with the brutal physical torture of crucifixion. The Romans looked around for the most agonizing most torturous method to publicly kill someone and came up with crucifixion.

Let me read a description of what happened to Jesus by a Christian medical doctor named Dr. C. Truman Davis who takes us through the crucifixion from the time a African man named Simon of Cyrene takes over the cross.

“The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.

Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum (the cross part of the cross) on the ground and Jesus quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain — the nails in the writs are putting pressure on the median nerves.

As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded”.

Not a pretty story but one that must be told. The seven sentences are short and this is because words can only be uttered as the Jesus exhales and fights through the pain to make another breath. He is very slowly suffocating.

The words,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Come in the sixth hour when an eerie darkness covers the land. God has certainly turned his back on his Son and walked away. This is the force of the next words in the Psalm, “ Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” and this idea is filled out with the next verse that reads, “O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent”, Yes Jesus is crying out in both day and night on that cross owing to the unusual darkness that has come in the sixth hour.

2.   APPEALS IN THE PAST NEVER IN VAIN   ( 3 – 5)

 The Psalm seems to have its own ebb and tide type structure as the sufferer goes down into terrible suffering but then rises up with hope only to go down again unto verse 22 when the suffering ceases and the sufferer becomes the victor.

The first of the ebb upwards is in verses 3 – 5,

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel”.

In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed”.

The true Israelite believer could always count on God to hear their prayers and save them. All through the Old Testament we could find examples of this. As I said before Jesus cried out or spoke to his heavenly father constantly and his father never failed to hear him. A good example of this is when Jesus speaks to his Father just before he raises Lazarus from the dead in John 11 : 41,

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Faithful Israelite believers and of course Jesus particularly trusted in God, cried out to him and he heard them. In other words as the Psalm says they “were not disappointed” but of course on the cross when Jesus became sin for us he was not heard and in human suffering terms he was disappointed.

Paul in Galatians tells us that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

3.   MOCKING PERSECUTION BY HIS ENEMIES   (6 –  8)

The tide turns down again and back to more suffering after a brief break where help is sought but is not found. Let me read again verse 6 – 8,

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he

delights in him.”

Again in these words we see another example of the amazing prophetic quality of this Psalm. Remember this Psalm was written around 1,000 years before Christ’s death on the cross.

Mark describes the mocking Christ received on the cross well in Mark 15 : 29 – 32,

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32Let this Christ,this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him”.

Jesus is coping it from all sides, passes by, religious leaders and even the thieves being crucified with him, although one of those thieves, sees the light so to speak and becomes a “death bed” believer. The taught by the religious leaders of, “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Is so close to the words of the Psalm that read,

“He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him”.

Did Jesus become agitated by this taunts as painful as they would have been, no because Luke tells us that as the soldiers crucified Jesus he cried out to God , “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23 : 34. They certainly didn’t know what they were doing or in the case of the mockers saying because John tells us in Revelation 1 : 7,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be”!

4.   A PLEA FOR HELP TO A GOD WHO DELIVERS   (9 –  11)

 The Psalm now ebbs up again for another desperate search for hope and relief from the suffers suffering in the words,

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s

breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my

God. Do not be far from me, 
for trouble is near and there is no one to help”.

As I said before Jesus knew God in a loving close and personal way from the day of his birth. Even as a twelve year old Luke gives us a small insight into the boy Jesus in his account of Jesus in the Temple lost from his earthly parents amazing everyone as he discussed theological issues well above he age. As he is found by his frantic mother, Mary he says to her these amazing words, in Luke 2 : 49,

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Now Jesus is crying out for help to that Father he knew so well and all he is hearing is deathly silence.

5.   THE FEELING OF BEING HOPELESSLY TRAPPED   (12 –13)

 The tide ebbs back down again and we read these words,

“Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me”.

Bashan was a place of rich pasturage and would aptly describe those chief priests who mocked Jesus when he was on the cross. They would have been richly dressed and well fed and Jesus of course on the cross was naked , his body broken and lots of blood on him and coming from his body. He was indeed looking like a man torn apart by lions who are making a good meal of him.

How happy those chief  Priests must have felt, they had finally got rid of the one who had shown them up so badly who was winning so many over to them. Jesus spoke some of his harshest words to and about these men when for instance he warned the people of them in Matthew 23 : 1 – 7,

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5“Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi”.

Jesus goes on in this chapter to call them, “hypocrites” verse 13, “blind guides” verse 16 and “snakes” and “brood of vipers” in verse 33.

No wonder the Chief Priests and other religious leaders of Jesus day hated him so much. Jesus was not calling them names he was putting his finger on what they were really like and no body likes that.

So now these “Chief Priests” felt like Satan who inspired them they had finally won as Jesus hung on the cross so helpless and defeated.

6.   THE DEPTH OF THE MISERY THE SUFFERER ENDURES    (14 –18)

 The tide does not come up again but goes out even further as we read the words,

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to

wax; it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my

mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierce

my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”.

Again 1,000 years before Christ’s actual crucifixion and 900 years before crucifixion was even invented by the Romans we have another perfect picture of what happened to Jesus on the cross.

“Poured out like water” the feeling of utter helplessness and weakness. Jesus blood would have flowed form his body, from the wiping he got, from the nails driven into his wrists and legs and from the crown of thorns on his head. As a young child I had a nasty blow to my head when I fell off a swing and the swing hit me as it swung back. I still remember the blood that flowed from that head wound. Much has been written on what is sometimes called, “Blood Theology” and this is because I could share with you many verses that the blood of Christ sacrificially given is spoke of. The passage I have chosen is the blood of Christ passage that I think explains why “Blood Theology” is so important to the New Testament writers.

I chose Hebrews 9 : 11 – 15,

“When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,so that we may serve the living God! 15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

“All my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me”.

 The agony of crucifixion would have been like having multiple fractures at once and the sufferer would have felt physically and emotionally crushed. Of course Jesus did not have his legs broken. The Romans would only bring the sufferer the peace of death by braking the crucified persons legs but of course Jesus had already died around the ninth hour on the cross. John tells us that even though the Thieves needed their legs broken Jesus was already dead so the soldiers made sure he was dead by thrusting a spear in his side. These Roman soldiers were professional killers and knew their job well. Let me tell you Jesus was really dead when he was put in his tomb.

The Psalm talks about these soldiers doing their gruesome business of crucifixion in verse 16,

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierce my hands and my feet”.

Finally even the dividing up of Jesus clothes and the gambling for which soldier gets them gets a mention in verse 18,

“They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”.

However the two out spoken believers during the crucifixion turn out to be one of the thieves being crucified who asks Jesus for help and gets the promise of heaven,

“I tell you the truth, today you will be in paradise with me” (Luke 23 : 43).

The other outspoken believer is one of the soldiers, in fact it is the soldier in charge, the Centurion, who seeing how Jesus died makes the remarkable statement,

“Surely this man was the Son or God” (Mark 15 : 39).

7.   THE LAST DESPERATE PLEA OF THE SUFFERER    (19 – 21)

 The tide does come up again for the final time as we read the sufferers final plea,

But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.”

This plea is the only one that does not fit into the story of Jesus crucifixion at least on the surface.

This is because first of all Jesus did know that his suffering on the cross would not be the end or a defeat but rather the pathway to his glory and that pathway had to be trod to make a way back to the father for us. Jesus spoke of his death on many occasions to prepare his disciples for it and to make sure they knew why it had to happen. I like how Jesus spoke about it in John 12 : 23 – 28,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. 27“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!”

So Jesus would taste death but it would not defeat him like in the Psalm death is pictured by three killer animals, wild dogs, lions and wild oxen. Jesus is not left to in the grave to be devoured by it but will rise in victory.

Secondly even though God turned his back on his Son as he hung their taking our sin upon him he did not leave his son to rot in the grave. Instead the bible teaches us that God raised Jesus from the grave. As Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 : 24,

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him”.

C)   THE DELIVERENCE

1.   PRAISE FOR THE SUFFERERS DELIVERANCE    (22 – 25)

 That brings us to the final two sections of the Psalm as the sufferer becomes the delivered one. As what looks like defeat turns out to be a wonderful victory, as we saw in Psalm 20.

The tide really comes in the Psalm and will not fall away again as we read these words,

 “ I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!

Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not

hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who

fear you  will I fulfill my vows”.

As I said before God did not leave Jesus to rot in the grave but raised him. The resurrection of Jesus is as important as the death of Jesus as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 : 12 – 19,

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men”.

Paul is saying that our sure hope of both our forgiveness of our sins and our resurrection from the dead is all based on Christ ‘s resurrection.

Christ cried out on the cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me” and the answer is because you have taken on the sin’s of the whole world. But that cry was also answered in that God did not abandon his son in death but raised him. This ,a s Paul says is the basis of our faith in Christ and what all the descendants of Jacob longed to know and hear. It is the theme of the great assembly of heaven as we read in Revelation 5 : 12,.

“In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, 
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

2.  THE DELIVERENCE RELEVANCE TO THE WORLD    (26 – 31)  

The Psalm finishes with some great inspiring words of hope and assurance,

  The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him—may

your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel

before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it.

These words are so similar to those of Paul in Philippians 2 : 9 – 11,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 
 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Jesus got to this most glorious and victorious position via his suffering on the cross for us and Paul speaks of this in the verses leading up to these words in Philippians 2 : 5 – 9,

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness.8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 
 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”.

So Psalm 22 leads us on a journey of great suffering that is deep and terrible but it goes on to be the way to wondrous glory and hope. This is a perfect prophecy of what Jesus has done and we will join that great multitude in heaven one day we will sing,

“”Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

(Revelation 7 : 10)

THREE NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS

 We have already looked at the significance of Jesus words on the cross, “My God my God why have you forsaken me”, now we will look at three other statements Jesus uttered as he suffered terribly for our sins.

  1. FATHER FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY DON MOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING

 I have already mentioned something about these words already when I spoke of the Roman Soldiers who crucified Jesus. I related these words to the by standers and religious leaders who mocked him. I do think the soldiers were in a different situation as they were just doing their job as gruesome as it was. The Romans ruled the countries they conquered with a iron fist and used humiliating and painful public spectacle executions for a kind of statement like, oppose us and this is how you will end up.

The following quote from Wikipedia gives us some of the historical setting of crucifixion from a Roman Empire perspective.

“Crucifixion was used for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. Therefore crucifixion was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion (like feudal nobles from hanging, dying more honorably by decapitation) except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason.

Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War in 73-71 BC (the slave rebellion under Spartacus), other Roman civil wars in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In order to frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ men along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome.[39] Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned took days to die slowly from suffocation — caused by the condemned’s blood-supply slowly draining away to a quantity insufficient to supply the required oxygen to vital organs. The dead body was left up for vultures and other birds to consume”.

The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just to kill the criminal, but also to mutilate and dishonour the body of the condemned. In ancient tradition, an honourable death required burial; leaving a body on the cross, so as to mutilate it and prevent its burial, was a grave dishonour”

Even though these Roman Soldiers were just doing there job, there job reveals how sin has caused mankind, as John Calvin taught become “totally Depraved”. Why are men and women act so cruelly to one another? The answer is sin or rebellion from God. What is the answer to sin? What they were doing to Jesus, crucifying him so that ,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5 : 21)

As Jesus was being crucified what was he doing?

The answer is praying to his Father for his enemies with the words,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.

Jesus even in this most terrible and painful moment of his life was showing us real love. As he taught us in Matthew 5 : 44,

‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

No wonder the Centurion noticed a big difference in the way Jesus suffered and died when he saw how Jesus did not scream and curse him as he had him nailed to the cruel cross but this man was praying to God, he called his father, for forgiveness.

  1. “ I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE”

 Many years ago when I was a young 20 something bible college student I attended a Good Friday Easter protest service in one of the big parks in Sydney. The then Archbishop of my church, Marcus Loane preached the best Easter sermon I have ever heard.

It was based on these words of Jesus which was a response to one of the men, a petty thief request. This man had at first joined in the taunts against Jesus but for some reason we are not given also noticed something very different about the man who was suffering next to him. As the other thief continued his mocking of Jesus this thief defended him with the words,

“Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23 : 40 – 41)

He then asks Jesus and astonishing question,

“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. (Luke 23 : 42)

Jesus reply are the words we are focusing on in this section of our study,

“ I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”.

Marcus Loane pointed out that it is never to late to turn to Jesus and find his forgiveness. He also pointed out that no matter how bad we think we are there is hope and we know this because Jesus remembered the thief on the cross. I went home very inspired and wrote the words to a new song that day that had as it’s first line “O I wish you could see now all is not at loss for Jesus remembered the thief on the Cross”.

The great apostle Paul never forgot the fact that he was not always on Jesus side and in fact terrorized the early Christian church for a number of years. However Jesus showed his grace when he confronted Paul on the road to Damascus where Paul was going to extend his terror program on the Christians there. Paul literally saw the light and was turned around. He later wrote to his young apprentice Timothy these words in 1 Timothy 1 : 15,

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst”.

So in your prayers for you enemies and tormentors ask God to do a Paul and show them by his grace the light of the Gospel and maybe you will add to the many Paul like stories of the grace of God transforming lives that history is full of.

  1. “IT IS FINISHED”

There are two ways of interpreting the phrase, “It is finished” that John records for us as Christ’s last words before he died.

One way is it’s all over or it is ended. People say this when their marriage breaks up. “It is finished”, the relationship is over. Jesus therefore could be saying he is finally defeated and his life is about to end in one final act of tragedy . This is what the Romans would have thought he meant, they have crushed this disturbing uprising centered the life and teaching of the man known as Jesus Christ. They had crushed many up risings before and this one was a minor one in comparison to the thousands they had crushed before.

The Jewish leaders to would have though; “It is finished” was that Jesus was now dead and gone. They had won, they had a successful campaign of getting rid of the popular young teacher who had made them feel so uncomfortable who had become a real threat to their positions of power and authority.

The second way “It is finished” could be interpreted is, it is done or it is accomplished. A great artist when he completes a masterpiece would say this when he thinks his work is complete, ”it is finished”. This of course is what the new testament writers believed Jesus meant by these words. Johns recording of this according to bible scholars I consulted say that the actual Greek words used here literally mean, “It is accomplished!!!

 The writer to the Hebrews says this in Hebrews 9 : 15,

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

Jesus himself used words similar to these in Mark 10 : 45.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

So Jesus, in his mind, at the point of death had triumph not defeat in his mind.

He had accomplished what he sought to accomplish, he had given his life as a ransom for many.

Well you might ask, Maybe he thought that but maybe he was wrong, maybe the Romans and the Jewish Leaders were right?

The problem is, for the Romans the small uprising in the out of the way country of Judea had not been crushed and it grew and grew and eventually some 300 hundred years or so later overwhelmed it.

The problem for the Jewish leaders was, what was a annoying little movement based around one man and a handful of followers became a massive new religion that soon broke away from it and overwhelmed it as many Jews and Non Jews embraced it.

Why?

The answer to that is obvious, Jesus had accomplished a great thing and the real proof is that in less than three days he had risen from the dead and began a great movement of faith that turned the world upside down and changed it forever.

Jesus words, “It is finished” could be said to have changed three days later when he rose from the dead to “It has begun”.

CONCLUSION

 So we have seen in Psalm 22, written by King David 1,000 years before Christ’s death a perfect prophecy of what many Christian scholars call the pivotal event in History. What the world was like before Christ death and after his death cannot be compared. History therefore was changed. The hopeless state of the human heart has been given new life. This what the Apostle Paul says in, Col 1: 21 –23,

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant”.

 Let me read to you my poem based on this Psalm

GOLGOTHA’S CRY

 Nailed up high on a hill

My Lord was left to die.

As he suffered so much pain

He made this desperate cry.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

God turned away from him

My Lord is in the dark

He always had God with Him

But sin makes God depart.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

Made this world all we see

He is the Lord on High.

On the cross he went to hell

And from there he made this cry

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

Jeered and mocked on the cross

Tormented by their curse.

Save yourself they called to him

This made his suffering worse.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

Looked to God all his days

Trusted in God from birth

But now he suffers all alone

As darkness covers the earth.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

Hate and spite all around

Tormented by their lies

His blood is spilt on the ground

In torment he now cries.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

Soldiers gamble for his clothes

They nailed him up on high

Others stare and jeer at him

And hear his desperate cry.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

In pain he was tempted

For rescue from the cross

But he gave his life for us

And we just have to trust.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

Pains dark hour soon would pass

And his church will now proclaim

How he died to save our sins

Now praise his mighty name.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

We know we can call on him

He knows the pain we feel

Helps us in our darkest hour

He knows our pain is real.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

As we gather to worship

We should speak of what he’s done

How he gave his life for us

So we must tell everyone.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

One day he will return

The world will see his power

Through suffering he made a way

To be with God every hour.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore our sin

And in that hour of suffering

He calls us all to him.

 

On that day of Judgement

No person will deny

When we bow before the Lord

I’ll sing Golgotha’s cry.

“My God My God why have you forsaken me”

Jesus bore my sin

And in his hour of suffering

I turned to follow him.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 PRAYER:

 Father in heaven we thank you for sending Jesus into this world to die for us on the cross. We thank you Jesus for not holding back but going to the cross for us. Thank you for the great debt you paid on the cross. Thank you Father in heaven for raising Jesus from the dead and now we ask Holy Spirit that you will help us to take this Gospel message to the world. In and through the great name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 

 

Jim Wenman