Psalm 22; March 25, 2023

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

You could say that this is the most miraculous of all the Psalms, because in it David describes in remarkable detail the situation of Jesus on the cross. Jesus famously quoted this first line from the cross. (Matthew 27:46) Because He did so in Aramaic, the language of the common people in His day, rather than in formal Hebrew, the religious language of the day, the majority of those around Him didn’t even recognize that He was quoting Scripture. I think that also indicates that it wasn’t a “memory verse” from His childhood, because that would have been in Hebrew. I think He stopped with this first line for a number of reasons, one of which being that He probably wasn’t physically able to quote all 31 verses, being suspended from nails through His wrists. Just yesterday I was reading a short article by a Christian neurosurgeon talking about the level of pain Jesus had to endure, considering the nerves that would have been smashed or severed by the spikes. Having recently broken my left wrist and had surgery to implant a titanium plate for repair, I can identify, to a very small degree! (Most traditional depictions of the crucifixion show the nails in Jesus’ palms, but that shows an ignorance of both Greek and anatomy. The term in the Bible can indicate anything from the elbow to the fingers. Anatomically, nails through the palms would tear out from the weight of the person, but nails between the two bones of the forearm would support the person securely.) From our perspective, having the Gospel accounts for comparison, the section through verse 18 is incredibly detailed and accurate. Verses 19-21 are a bit of a segue, and then from verse 22 we have the triumphant testimony of Jesus after His resurrection. We will never go through as much as Jesus did for our sake, so any time we feel forsaken, we need to remember that whatever happens in the moment, “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.” (Psalm 22:30-31)

I never expected to have any personal identification with the sensation of spikes through my wrists, but at this point I am thankful for the experience. I have been thankful for crucifixes to remind us of all Jesus went through for us, but at the same time I have thought it sad that so many people seem to picture Jesus only that way. He didn’t stay on the cross, or even in the tomb! Too many people are like Shusaku Endo, the Japanese Catholic who wrote several powerful historical novels, notably, Silence, which was made into a movie a few years ago. Endo believed in the historical reality of Jesus and that He died as atonement for our sins, but he couldn’t bring himself to believe in resurrection, and to me that is a fatal flaw to all his work. As Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) However, the Bible is replete not only with mentions of heaven, but with promises of resurrection. I certainly don’t know any details, but I’m looking forward to whatever God has “up His sleeve!”

Father, thank You for this reminder, and for having David write this magnificent Psalm. May I not hold back from anything in this life, but always keep my eyes on Jesus and rejoice, (Hebrews 12:2) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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