Devotion on Psalm 22, Part V, 26 March 2015 Anno Domini
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30) 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
Our devotions on Psalm 22 have been dreary and sorrowful thus far. We have observed the treachery of both friend and foe in the close circle of disciples. We have witnessed the cruel mocking and heartless beatings of our Lord who took all of that abuse for us alone. We saw the agony of the cross – the humiliation and shame of it – and the ridicule of those who should have hung there in the place of our Lord. How sorrowful it all has been. But today I am so happy to write a different record. Well, not a different one, but the continuation of that record which began in sorrow and sacrifice, but now overflows into the joys of the morning sunrise! “1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)
True to the prophecy, thick darkness covered the Place of the Skull (Golgotha) where Jesus was crucified. The dark night of Eternal import was about to end. The promises of God made to Eve in Eden, and confirmed to Abraham were being consummated in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ which He willingly made, for the Cross was the Crux of all time and Eternity – dividing, if it were possible, Eternity Past from Eternity Future. But such a division is not possible in view of the Role of our Lord as the Great I AM. He was I AM before the foundation of the world; He was I AM on the cross; He was I AM in the Tomb, He was IAM on resurrection morning; and He remains the Eternal I AM on the throne with His Father. The intricately embroidered Temple Vail that separated the common worshippers from the Most Holy Place was ruined in an instant at the death of Christ. “50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” (Matt 27:50-52, Mark 15:38, & Luke 23:45) Jesus was never a welcome visitor in the undertaker’s business for no one would remain dead in His Presence. Jesus had purchased our redemption, and our privilege to carry our burdens directly to God without the necessity of an intermediary save that of Himself!
As we noted at the beginning of this study of Psalms 22, the first 21 verses describe the ordeal of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. But the last ten verses gloriously reveal His joy of resurrection and victory! You will recall that thick darkness that prevailed over the land from the sixth hour to the ninth (12 noon until 3 PM) – the latter being the very moment of the death of Jesus. Incidentally, 3 P.M. was also precisely the moment that the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed in the Temple at Jerusalem. Instead, the Lamb of God died at that moment as an Eternal and once-for-all sacrifice of Passover! The Angel of Death will see the Blood of Christ over the Doorposts and Lintels of the hearts of believers, and pass over just as in old Egypt.
Beginning at verse 22 of Psalm 22, the entire tone and tenor is reversed. His final words prior to verse 22 read a pitiful cry of hope and suffering: “20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” (Psalms 22:20-21) The pain was far greater than physical. Remember that God the Father cannot look upon sin for its terrible repugnance to Him; yet, our Lord and Savior actually took upon Himself the sins of the world on that terrible cross! Now, it is finished! What glory and joy floods the soul of our Lord, and it should flood our own souls as well.
The joyful notes of praise and victory commence now at verse 22: “22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. 23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.” Yes, the Lord is now exulting in a hard fought, but certain, victory. He has overcome the devil, sin, and death. We are told that nearby the place of crucifixion was a tomb belonging to the wealthy Joseph of Arimathaea, and that the Tomb was in a Garden! Hint: a Garden is a place of life – not death! The Tomb was a borrowed tomb in which no man had ever lain! Sad, isn’t it, that Christ could only BORROW a Tomb! But consider that He needed no permanent tomb, and neither do you or I need more than a borrowed tomb – for His resurrection assures our own!
Please observe the gems of beauty contained in this text from the Gospel of St. Matthew: “38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. (John 19:38-42)
Yes, Joseph was a wealthy man and member of the Sanhedrin along with Nicodemus. His tomb was no shabby place of burial. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah some 700 years earlier: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9) That is one wonderful gem of truth; but there is still another that leaps out to the discerning reader. Can you guess it? It involves Nicodemus. When Nicodemus first approached Christ under cover of darkness in John, chapter 3, he came bearing only a tiny candle of faith, but each time Nicodemus is mentioned after that encounter, the reminder is made “which at first came to Jesus by night.” Why do you suppose that reminder is remarked at every mention of Nicodemus after that midnight encounter? It is to demonstrate that Nicodemus now carries, not a candle of faith, but a burning TORCH! He sought, with Joseph, to take the body of Jesus above the boisterous objections of those whom he at first feared before he gained a more intimate relationship (in faith) with Christ. He now comes, not only in broad daylight, but to the very halls of the secular power in the face of the Jewish rulers! That is what courage faith in Christ instills in men and women!
Jesus, having paid the price, and won the crowns of glory and of all nations, reaffirms His love and devotion to His Father’s will – nothing has changed in that unchangeable Heart of Love and Grace! “25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.” Jesus has won the Hand of His Bride, the Church, to whom He will pay His vows. His Spirit has been surrendered in victory to the good Hands of the Father. “Into thy hands I commend my Spirit!” Need I remind you that there are no better hands? One day, my dear friends, we, too, shall commend our spirits to that good keeping of the Father until our borrowed tombs are emptied at the resurrection. I am both thrilled and overjoyed at the writing of today’s devotion after such a long drought of darkness and sorrow! “ . . . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5b) It is an honor and a privilege to be able to read, and understand, this beautiful Psalm. But there is such a greater reward remaining for the reader of today’s text!
“The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.” (Psalms 22:26) I see in a casual review of my calendar that “FOREVER’ does not appear in the annals of mankind; but it certainly is a benefit and reward of Heaven to those whose Love for Christ is an overflowing love that spills over to all around that Heart which “shall live FOREVER!” The Wise Man sought Him, and FOUND Him and that joy of the heart. All wise men and women seek Him and, if they do, they shall FIND Him!
The Heart of Jesus is an infinite Heart, and it is able to bear all who enter into His Heart and become One with Him!
It is such a joy to know that the treasures of our Hearts shall survive as well as our spirits. The little loves and likes of childhood, of good old friends, of those of the family hearth, and of the beauty of Creation – all these shall live forever with our hearts. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21)
Tomorrow, we will conclude our study of this magnificent Psalm! In the meantime, bask in the comforting glow of love and delight that is revealed in today’s text.