8 July 2022 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Psalm 22:1; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
We seldom consider the history of the cross before our Lord’s crucifixion thereon, but it does, indeed, have a documented history in Scripture. Perhaps the most vivid prophetic description of the cross may be found in Psalms 22 – a Messianic Psalm (a Psalm relating directly to Christ). Please observe just a few of the distinctions of the cross related in this great Psalm. A general assessment is in order before ascribing the finer points. First of all, verses 1-21 related the terrific experiences that our Lord suffered on the cross. But beginning at verse 22 to the end, the Psalm relates the glory of the resurrection. That is a summary, now, let us examine a few of the salient points that point to the cross.
1. The first words of the Psalm, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That is precisely the same utterance of Christ at Golgotha: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
2. In the 22nd Psalm, the prophetic mention is made of the parting of our Lord’s garments: “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:18) In Matthew we read, “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” (Matthew 27:35-36)
3. In verse seven and eight of Psalms 22, we see, “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” Likewise, Matthew 27 relates the same circumstance: “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 4And 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. “ (Matthew 27:39-40)
There are many more parallels to the cross including the tortuous aspects of the cross, but I will move on to the other points of my devotion now. The innocent animal sacrificed to cover the nakedness (sins) of Adam and Eve was a foreshadow of the cross. (See Genesis 3:21)
It should be pointed out that our Lord was born under the very shadow of the cross. That shadow fell across His beloved face as a baby in the manger at Bethlehem. He was laid in a wooden manger used to feed the beast of the field, and we, too, are fed by the blood of His sacrifice and the Bread of His body in symbol. His first moments of this earthly life was begun in a manger of wood, and, thirty-three years later, ended nailed to a cross of wood.
In First Corinthians 1:18, we learn that the cross is not adaptable to fancy temples and synagogues for it is a stumbling block to those who do not believe: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” It came by the will of God as part of His plan of redemption formulated before the worlds were made. God is never surprised at anything that happens in our world. He knew that Adam would fail, not because free will, but rather owing to a will that fell under the bondage of the serpent in Eden. The Lord Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God slain for our redemption from before the foundation of the world.
The cross became the bridge whereby we are blessed by the mercy and grace of God to cross from the curse of death to eternal life with the Father: “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” (Ephesians 2:16)
Though the cross has a history, it also bears a future in Eternity from Past to Future. It is the cross that enables countless generations of future believers to cross that divide between the world and God’s Heaven.
Being dead in trespasses and sins (See Ephesians 2), we were helpless to DO anything to save ourselves, for the dead know nothing at all. It was the grace and mercy of God that whispered our names without our tombs of stone and beckoned us forth just as was Lazarus at Bethany. Our blood was tainted with the sin nature from Adam until now. The disease of sin means death to all who go to the grave burdened with that sin. But there is a strain of blood that is pure and free of sin – that of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are reconciled by the cross to faith, our blood disease becomes clean in the eyes of the Father. When He beholds us, He sees not our sins, but the perfection of His only Begotten Son.
The cross is our perfect plumbline of love of God and righteousness in its vertical beam, and our love for others in its horizontal. It is to be born by all who believe. “Take up thy cross daily and follow me!” (Luke 9:23)