Psalm 22: Our Suffering Savior, Part 1



Today let us spend some time meditating on the sufferings of our dear Lord from Psalm 22. Let us read Psalm 22:1.

My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?

Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm, that is, it prophesied the coming of the Messiah. We read in Psalm 119,

Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.

   Here, the eyes are not physical eyes. They are the eyes of the mind. When the eyes of our minds are closed, we do not see Jesus. For example, when the two disciples were walking towards Emmaus, a stranger joined their conversation. But they could not recognize this stranger, who was the risen Christ. Yes, their physical eyes were open but their spiritual eyes were closed. Our Lord then gave them a long discourse on messianic prophecies. We read in Luke 24:44

And He said unto them, “These are the words which I spoke unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me.”

Lord Jesus told them, ‘Read the Law of Moses, it speaks of me. Read the Psalms, they speak of me.’ We can be sure that Lord Jesus described Psalm 22 to these two gentlemen. Not Paul, Not Peter, Lord Jesus himself expounded these Messianic Psalms and explained their fulfillment in his life. What a soul stirring Bible exposition that must have been when Jesus himself explained Messianic prophecies to these disciples!

  In Psalm 22, we see a stunning display of the cross of Christ. Someone said, ‘Prophecy is History Prewritten’. David described the sufferings of the Messiah a full one thousand years before his birth. We should remember that prophecies have both a present application and a future fulfillment. In Psalm 22, some verses describe the current afflictions of David while other verses describe the sufferings of Christ.

  In verse 16, we read, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’. These words could not have been written about David because his hands and feet were never pierced. They were clearly written about the sufferings of the future Messiah.

  I would like to show you 12 precious truths from this Psalm.

A Scream

A Snub

A Spectacle

A Slaughter

A Sacrifice

A Sponge

A Spear

A Skeleton

A Shroud

A Synthesis

A Sketch

A Song

A Scream

We hear a painful scream from the cross:

My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? Psalm 22:1

To understand this cry, let us also see a few verses from Mark chapter 15.

  1. And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
  2. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

   Jesus was arrested around 1 am, Friday morning. He was presented before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. They fabricated crimes he did not commit. Their plan was to murder him. But they did not have authority to impose death penalty. They had to make their case for execution before the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate and convince him to convict Jesus. They prepared false witnesses and charged Jesus with blasphemy and treason. Pilate could see through their chicanery but could not deliver justice because of his obsession with power. He was afraid of the Jewish authorities who might report him to Rome, which could jeopardize his political ambitions. He delivered Jesus to the cross.

    Jesus was crucified at 9 am. From 9 am to 12 noon, he spoke three times.

‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing’ : Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of his killers.

‘Today, you will be with me in the paradise’: Jesus gave salvation and hope to the thief crucified on the cross beside him.

‘Mother, your son’. Jesus gave the responsibility of his mother to disciple John.

   From 12 noon to 3 pm, darkness covered the land. At 3 pm, Jesus spoke for the fourth time.

He cried out, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ This is Aramaic. Jesus did not speak Hebrew or Greek or Latin. He spoke in Aramaic with Galilean accent. So, in Jerusalem,  the people around his cross could not understand his words.

   “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” God the Son was separated from God the Father. That separation was unbearable. For the first time, the eternal fellowship between the Father and the Son was interrupted. I remember how my son used to cry when I prepare to leave him for work. A child cannot bear separation from a parent. Jesus went through such experience on the cross. Having his hands and feet nailed to the cross, he was bound to the cross. All his loved ones abandoned him. His Father who would never abandon him also left him on the cross.

    When God the Son took upon himself the form of a man, and came to this world, he abandoned his heavenly glory behind. Now on the cross, he also lost his fellowship with the Father. That’s the price he paid for our sins. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

    Jesus was made sin for us. For three hours, there was darkness around the cross. Jesus paid our debt of sin. He sacrificed even his fellowship with the Father for our salvation. After violating God’s commandments, Adam and Eve were sent away from God’s presence in the Garden of Eden. Sin separated them from fellowship with God. As their offspring, we inherited the same sinful character and separation from God. We lost our fellowship with our Creator. That is where Jesus came. He is the Second Adam. To restore our fellowship with God, Jesus lost his fellowship with the Father.

“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

What a great sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation!

What a great price he paid for our redemption!

What a great penalty he bore for our forgiveness!

What a great separation he endured for our restoration!

After his scream, the darkness disappeared. There came light. That is the good news. We are no longer slaves to sin and Satan. We are no longer under the judgment of God. We are no longer under the debt of sin and hell.

A Snub

Then let us turn to verse 6.

But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.

They looked at Jesus like a worm. His visage completely changed due to their aggressive attacks and beating.

We read in Isaiah 52:14,

His visage was so marred more than any man

His facial appearance changed completely.

Isaiah 53 elaborates on this transformation.

He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

And we hid as it were our faces from Him;

He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;

yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions;

He was bruised for our iniquities.

The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,

and with His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53: 3-5

  A farmer sent his son to college. After four years, the son is set for graduation. He went to the graduation ceremony to receive his diploma. After the ceremony, many of his friends stood with him for photographs. The farmer also went to stand by his son for the photograph. But the son was not comfortable to pose for a photograph with his father. His mother asked him, ‘Why didn’t you stand with your dad for the photo?’ The son said, ‘Dad doesn’t look good’. His mother looked at him and said, ‘You see son, dad has been working all these years to pay your tuition. He has been working under the sun to send you to college. Yes, his face has darkened because he made the sacrifice for you’.

   Many Christians behave like this son when Jesus comes to stand beside them. They feel embarrassed to identify with Jesus. They feel ashamed of the cross. They forget that Jesus went to the cross for their sins. His visage was marred because of their sins.

    We shall never feel ashamed of the cross. Apostle Paul said, in Romans 1:16,

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

A Spectacle

Let us see Psalm 22:7

All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out their lip, they shake their head

They were shaking their heads, shooting their lips, laughing and scorning Jesus. They made a spectacle of Jesus.

We see the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew chapter 27.

  1. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole detachment of soldiers.
  2. And they stripped Him and put on Him a scarlet robe.
  3. And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head and a reed in His right hand, and they bowed their knees before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
  4. And they spat upon Him, and took the reed and smote Him on the head.
  5. And after they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.
  6. And those who passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads.
  7. and saying, “Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself! If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

They put on him a Scarlet Robe.

They pressed a crown of thorns on his head.

Blood was flowing down his cheeks, yet their hearts did not soften.

They smote on his head. They spat on him.

They mocked him, ‘Hail, the King of the Jews!’

   The Son of God bore all those insults. He endured their mockery and denigration. He suffered the pain of the thorns. Because there was no other way to save us. Becoming a king would have been a very easy task for him. Satan promised him a kingdom. The Jews wanted to make him their king. Yet he refused. Because without his cross, there would be no salvation for us. Without his blood, there would be no redemption for us. He rejected the kingdom because he loved us. He chose the crown of thorns so that we might we wear the crown of life.

   In 1931, Gandhi went to London for Second Round Table Conference. Winston Churchill made fun of him and called Gandhi, ‘a half-naked fakir’. Gandhi responded, ‘I will endure any insults to gain independence for India’. Jesus endured the insults to purchase liberty for our souls.

We read in Hebrews 12:2,

…. looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the joy that was set before Him, Lord Jesus endured the cross. He despised the shame because he wanted to see us in the family of God.

A Slaughter

Let us read verse 12.

Many bulls have compassed Me about; strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round.    

   The Strong Bulls of Bashan…Bashan is a place located in the Northern Israel around Galilee. This region has plenty of grasslands and the bulls which grow in this region are well fed and strong. This greenery made it prosperous, proud and cruel. Prophet Amos confronted the people of Bashan.

Hear this word, ye cows of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their masters, “Bring, and let us drink.” Amos 4:1

The cows of Bashan became cruel, they oppressed the poor and crushed the needy. The pharisees and chief priests became like the strong bulls of Bashan. They became prosperous by feeding on the poor through the businesses they set up in the Temple premises. Jesus confronted their greed and covetousness. He publicly criticized their rapacious mercenariness under the guise of religiosity. Then they planned to get rid of Jesus by killing him. They were able to buy false witnesses against this poor Galilean.

We read in 2 Corinthians 8:9

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.

Lord Jesus Christ, the king of the universe became poor so that through his poverty we might become rich. This poor carpenter went to Jerusalem. The rich pharisees and scribes planned his slaughter. But God, in his sovereignty, turned it into a sacrifice.

A Sacrifice

Let us verse 13 and 14

They gaped at Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

I am poured out like water

   Jesus went to Jerusalem like a lamb. A lamb prepared to take away the sin of the world. His enemies surrounded him like ravening and roaring lions. He was not caught between them like a naive young man. He was not a lamb unknowingly trapped by lions. He poured himself like water. He went voluntarily to sacrifice himself (John 10:18).

   You know, the shepherds raise their lambs on the hills of Bethlehem and the slopes of Mt.Olives! These lambs were taken to Jerusalem to be sacrificed in the Temple of God. Jesus was the lamb of God born in Bethlehem and prepared on Mt.Olives for the sacrifice.

   Only the spotless lambs were chosen for the sacrifice. Jesus was the sinless and perfect lamb of God. On the Day of the Passover, the lambs were sacrificed at 3 pm. Jesus died on the Day of the Passover at 3 pm.

   Two thousand years before, Abraham took his son Isaac and walked to Mt.Moriah. Along the way, Isaac asked Abraham, ‘My father, Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ (Genesis 22:7). That question pierced the heart of Abraham, because he was on his way to sacrifice Isaac. Controlling his emotions, Abraham told his son, ‘My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.’

   Isaac was spared, and in his place, a ram was offered. Jesus was offered in our place. He went to Mt.Moriah as the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Psalms 22,23 and 24 are known as Messianic shepherd psalms.

In Psalm 22, we see Jesus as the Good Shepherd

In Psalm 23, he is the Great Shepherd

In Psalm 24, he is the Chief Shepherd

Jesus is our Good Shepherd, He sacrificed his life for us.

Jesus is our Great Shepherd, He is sufficient for all our needs.

Jesus is our Chief Shepherd, He will take us home.

   Have you come to Lord Jesus Christ? Have you made him your Savior and Lord? If not, it is not too late. You can ask him to forgive your sins and make you his child.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for the great sacrifice you made for our sins. If any one is lost in their sins today, we ask that you open their eyes to see you as their Lord and Savior. In your precious name, we pray. Amen

Paul Kattupalli


To be Continued….

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