A few days ago I sat with a young man at a coffee shop who had a lot of really tough questions to ask. Not just of me, but of God: Why didn’t God answer my prayer when I needed Him most? Why does God seem to contradict Himself? If God is so good, how can He send people to Hell? These are real questions, posed by a real person, who is seeking real hope in his life. Maybe you can relate to my friend, I know I certainly can. Even as a pastor who has wrestled with these questions myself, there are days when I struggle to feel like God is there.
For that reason I find Psalm 22 extremely refreshing to my soul. It is one of those nitty gritty Psalms that authentically speaks to us in our sufferings, while also pointing forward to our vindication and restoration in God Himself. How so? I am glad you asked:
After you read through Psalm 22 today, jump over to your NT and read Matthew 27. Matthew’s Gospel account of the crucifixion directly highlights the fulfillment of Psalm 22 in Jesus Christ.
|Ps. 22:18||They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.||And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.||Matt. 27:35|
|Ps. 22:7||All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads.||And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads.||Matt. 27:39|
|Ps. 22:8||“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”||He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.”||Matt. 27:43|
|Ps. 22:1||My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?||And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”||Matt. 27:46|
Jesus fully understands what it means to cry out to God and feel like He isn’t there because that is exactly what He experienced on the cross because of our sin. The wrath of God was placed upon Him for our iniquities and in those moments He cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cries out to His Father, with whom He has had eternal communion and fellowship with, and His Father seemingly is not there. You can imagine the anguish Jesus must have felt in those moments. Jesus was completely innocent of the sin that had placed Him on the cross, completely undeserving of a separation from His Heavenly Father, and completely able to rescue Himself at any moment, restoring His communion with His Father. Yet Jesus willingly chooses to endure His Father’s wrath for sins He did not commit, so that the ones who did commit those sins would not have to be separated from His Father like He had to be. WOW! If that doesn’t give overwhelm your soul with praise today I don’t know what will. But, there is more….
Jesus doesn’t just fulfill the parts of Psalm 22 that point to His crucifixion, the finished work of His sacrifice and resurrection are found in this Psalm as well. Slowly read back through verses 21-31. Because of Jesus: praise, glory, salvation, communion, satisfaction, and hope in the midst of hopelessness are the result. If you are in Christ today, take heart and know that God has not turned His back on you, He turned His back on His Son for you. If there is sin in your life that is impeding your relationship with God, the gospel calls you to repentance. The Gospel also calls you to walk in light of that repentance joyfully casting off sin with the understanding that sin no longer has a hold over you. Jesus defeated sin on the cross once and for all.
If you’re struggling with difficult questions for God today, don’t worry, He is big enough for your questions. While you and I may not fully comprehend our Heavenly Father this side of Heaven, He has given us one gigantic insight into Himself and how He feels about us through His Son. In the Gospel we find sufficiency for all our deepest needs and that is something to joyfully praise God for today.
By: Matt Mofield