Joy Davidman in Smoke on the Mountain made this keen observation: "Our generation has never seen a man crucified except in sugary religious art; but it was not a sweet sight, and few of us would dare to have a real picture of a crucifixion on our bedroom walls. A crucified slave beside the Roman road screamed until his voice died and then hung, a filthy, festering clot of flies, sometimes for days - a living man whose hands and feet were swollen masses of gangrenous meat. That is what our Lord took upon Himself." And He did so for us! Such is the love of Christ!
Rembrandt's famous "Raising the Cross" may fit that category of "sugary religious art", but there is something else here. You will notice a man at the foot of the cross with a painter's beret. It seems that Rembrandt saw himself as someone personally in
volved in the crucifixion of Jesus. What do you think he meant by this?
Psalm 22 will be our meditation this week, and while it is titled "A Psalm of David," anyone who is remotely familiar with the crucifixion of Jesus will soon realize that this is more than a simply another psalm of David: it is the Psalm of the Cross! As we do this meditation, we will want to keep in mind the accounts of Jesus' Passion as recorded in the Gospels. Read this Psalm carefully, but then also read at least one of the Passion narratives found in Matthew (26:47-27:61), Mark (14:43-15:47), or Luke (22:47-23:56). Use the questions below to help you meditate on these most sacred texts.
1. The very first verse of Psalm 22 takes us to the cross, doesn't it (Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34)? List all the connections you can find between Psalm 22 and the Passion narrative in the Gospels.
2. The fact that Jesus quotes the first verse of this Psalm while on the cross not only expresses His experience of God-forsakenness, but also suggests that He may have had the entire Psalm on His heart as He endured unimaginable suffering on the cross. If that is the case, what do verses 1-11 tell us about what might have been going on in Jesus' soul as He was crucified? What did He long for?
3. According to the Gospels, who mocked Jesus and wagged their heads at Him (Psalm 22:7-8)?
4. In verses 12-18 the perpetrators and spectators of Jesus' suffering are described in images of animals. Who do you think these people are in light of the Gospel narratives?
* With these animal images in mind, how do you envision Golgotha as Jesus was crucified?
5. The Gospel narratives do not describe crucifixion at all, but we have something of a description here in Psalm 22. How do verses 14-17 depict some of the grim realities of crucifixion?
* What stands out to you?
6. What does the Savior plead for in verses 19-21?
7. The entire tone of the psalm changes in verse 22. What is the tone and why has it changed (vv. 22-24)?
8. According to verses 27-31, what are the results of Jesus' suffering?
9. What is the triumphant note at the very end of this Psalm? And what do you think it means? (cf., John 19:30)
10. Do you hear the Good News of Jesus in this Psalm? If so, how so?
11. Is there a lesson here for you about suffering? If so, what is it?
12. What did you learn about your Savior from this meditation on Psalm 22 and the Passion narratives in the Gospels?
May the Lord deepen your love for Him in view of His suffering for us! And I hope to see you on Sunday!