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AN EXPOSITION OF CHRIST'S DEATH ON THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, December 12, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"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).


Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

Psalm 22 is an amazing prophetic description of the future crucifixion of God's Son. This Psalm was written 1000 years before its fulfillment and describes in graphic detail the sufferings of Christ, long before the method of crucifixion was known and practiced among [the] Romans (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender's Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, page 608).

The Scofield Study Bible says, "Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion…When it is remembered that crucifixion was a Roman, not Jewish, form of execution, the proof of inspiration is irresistible" (note on Psalm 22:1). Dr. W. A. Criswell said,

This Psalm, one of the most quoted Psalms in the N.T. [New Testament], is the most graphic passage in the O.T. [Old Testament] as to what happened at the Cross. Thus it is appropriately called the "Crucifixion Psalm" or the "Psalm of the Cross." The thoughts of David were so shaped by the Holy Spirit as to prefigure, even in detail, many of the actual circumstances of the Lord's crucifixion (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, page 651).

Let us go through this Psalm and see what happened to Jesus, as He was crucified on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

I. First, the cry from the Cross.

Verses one through six give Christ's words as He hung on the Cross.

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
    (Matthew 27:46).

Many commentators think that Christ quoted this entire Psalm as He was dying. God the Son was forsaken by God the Father. In that desperate moment He was abandoned by God. The passage continues,

"Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent…"
      (Psalm 22:1-2).

"The words of my roaring" refer to the groans of Christ as He suffered.

Was it for crimes that I have done He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
    ("Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?" by Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748).

He cried out to God "in the daytime" and "in the night season," but God "hearest not." This is a reference to the three hours of darkness that fell on the earth during the time of Christ's most intense suffering. Why was God silent? Why did God abandon Him? The answer is in verse three, "But thou art holy." God cannot look upon sin. So God the Father turned away as God the Son bore our sins on the Cross.

Now look at verse six.

"But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people" (Psalm 22:6).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

The [Hebrew] word used here for worm means the coccus worm, which was used by the Hebrews in dyeing all the curtains of the tabernacle scarlet red. When He said, "I am a worm," He meant more than that He had reached the lowest level…Only His blood, my friend, can rub out the dark, deep spot [of sin] in your life (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, vol. II, pp. 707-708).

"On the Cross the Lord Jesus called Himself a 'scarlet worm'" (Morris, ibid.). Only the Blood of Jesus can wash the stain of your sin out of God's record.

II. Second, the scorn of His enemies.

We have heard His cry from the Cross, and several things related to that. Now we see the mockery and scorn of His enemies. Look at verses seven and eight.

"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" (Psalm 22:7-8).

This is a prophecy of what His enemies would do as they passed in front of the Cross.

"And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying…If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God"
      (Matthew 27:39-43).

Verses twelve and thirteen describe these foul people. Look at verse thirteen.

"They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion" (Psalm 22:13).

III. Third, the virgin birth.

Dr. McGee believed that Jesus had verses nine and ten in mind when He saw His mother from the Cross.

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother"
    (John 19:25).

Dr. McGee said, "As Jesus looks at her, do you want to know what went on in His heart? He went back to Bethlehem at the time He was born, and He says to the Father [what we read in verses nine and ten]" (McGee, ibid., p. 708):

"But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly" (Psalm 22:9-10).

The prophet Isaiah said,

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

It is the virgin-born Son of God, free from Adamic sin by nature, who dies on the Cross to atone for the sin of Adam's race!

IV. Fourth, the physical suffering.

Please stand and read verse 14 aloud.

"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels"
    (Psalm 22:14).

You may be seated. Dr. McGee said,

This accurate description of crucifixion is remarkable when you consider that crucifixion was unknown when this Psalm was written. The Roman Empire was not even in existence, and it was Rome that instituted crucifixion. Yet here is a picture of a man dying by crucifixion! (McGee, ibid., p. 709).

"I am poured out like water." This shows the heavy perspiration of a man dying under the hot sun, in the first part of the day. "All my bones are out of joint." This shows the most terrible thing about the crucifixion. When a crucified man lost much of his blood and his strength was gone, his bones slipped out of joint. "My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." Medical doctors have said that a ruptured heart would be like this - the collapse of the heart cavity. When the soldier pierced Christ's side with a spear "forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:34). The spear-thrust itself did not kill Jesus. He was already dead. One medical doctor, Stuart Bergsma, said, "The pressure of any considerable quantity of serum and blood clot, issuing after a spear wound…could only come from the heart or the pericardial sac" (Dr. Stuart Bergsma, quoted in William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Baker Book House, 1981, Gospel of John, volume II, p. 438). Dr. Bergsma said that Christ must have died from a ruptured heart (ibid., pp. 438-439).

"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ"
    (I John 5:6).

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
    ("Rock of Ages" by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).

Now look at verse fifteen.

"My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death" (Psalm 22:15).

A "potsherd" is a broken piece of an earthen pot. His strength was as dried up as a broken piece of a clay pot. "My tongue cleaveth to my jaws." Jesus said, from the Cross,

"I thirst" (John 19:28).

Look at verse sixteen.

"For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet"
      (Psalm 22:16).

"Dogs" was the name for Gentiles. The Roman soldiers surrounded Him. "They pierced my hands and my feet." Dr. Delitzsch tells us that the Hebrew word for "pierced" means "engrave, dig through, pierce" (F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973 reprint, volume V, p. 319). Dr. Delitzsch points out that Isaiah 53:5 also says He would be pierced. The King James Version says, "He was wounded for our transgressions." The literal Hebrew is "He was pierced through for our transgressions." This word also appears in the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah.

"They shall look upon me whom they have pierced"
     
(Zechariah 12:10).

But here, in Psalm 22:16, it is made very clear,

"They pierced my hands and my feet."

In verse eighteen we then read,

"They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Psalm 22:18).

That is an unusual thing to say, that they would gamble for His clothing. And yet all four gospels tell us this happened when Christ was crucified (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24). John said,

"Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did" (John 19:23-24).

V. Fifth, the prayer for deliverance.

Let us stand and read verses nineteen through twenty-one out loud. This was the heart cry of Christ from the Cross.

"But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns"
      (Psalm 22:19-21).

You may be seated.

"Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog." Dr. Morris says,

In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament "darling" is monogenes, used in John 3:16 and elsewhere to identify Jesus as God's "only begotten" Son (Henry M. Morris, ibid., p. 609).

"For thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns." Horns is plural, more than one. This term refers to the horns of antelopes or wild oxen. Dr. McGee said this speaks of the Cross. I think he was right. The two pieces of the Cross were "the horns" upon which He was nailed, and from which He prayed. And God heard that prayer. "For thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns."

VI. Sixth, the glory of His resurrection and ascension.

Please stand and read verse twenty-two aloud.

"I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee" (Psalm 22:22).

You may be seated. The Scofield Study Bible correctly says, "At verse 22 the Psalm breaks from crucifixion to resurrection." Dr. Criswell said that "This verse is put directly into the mouth of Christ in Hebrews 2:12, describing His relationship to His people." But in Hebrews 2:12, translated from Greek rather than Hebrew, Christ says,

"I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee" (Hebrews 2:12).

Christ rises from the dead. He speaks to us in the church through His Word and the illumination of His Spirit. He is united to us by faith. He sings with us "in the midst of the church."

Look at verse twenty-six.

"The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever" (Psalm 22:26).

Jesus said,

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).

Seek Christ! Turn to Christ! "Your heart shall live for ever."

Now look at the very last verse.

"They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this" (Psalm 22:31).

Dr. Gill says "a people that shall be born" refers to "regenerate persons, who shall come to Christ, and to his churches" (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, p. 31).

This does not refer to the physical nation of Israel, but to "a people that shall be born." When you see that you have no righteousness of your own, and hear His righteousness declared, and believe on Him, you become part of the "people that shall be born." You shall be born again! A people that shall be born is a people who have been born again!

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again"
    (John 3:7).

"Seek him: your heart shall live for ever" (Psalm 22:26). Let us stand for prayer.

"Lord, I pray for Thy mercy and grace to awaken some who are here tonight to their great need for Christ. He suffered so horribly to pay the penalty for sin. Yet, in an unawakened state, lost sinners hide their faces from Him, and He is despised and rejected by them. O God, change their thinking. Awaken them to their sin. Show them the rebellion of their own hearts against Thee. Break them down inwardly, and convict them of sin. Draw them to Jesus for salvation by Him alone. I ask this in His great name. Amen."

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 15:24-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"His Passion" (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768;
     stanzas added by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748.

THE OUTLINE OF

AN EXPOSITION OF CHRIST'S DEATH ON THE CROSS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"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).

I.   The cry from the Cross, Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1-2, 6.

II.  The scorn of His enemies, Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:39-43;
Psalm 22:13.

III. The virgin birth, John 19:25; Psalm 22:9-10; Isaiah 7:14.

IV. The physical suffering, Psalm 22:14; John 19:34; I John 5:6;
Psalm 22:15; John 19:28; Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5;
Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24.

V.  The prayer for deliverance, Psalm 22:19-21.

VI. The glory of His resurrection and ascension, Psalm 22:22;
Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 22:26; John 11:25-26;
Psalm 22:31; John 3:7.

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at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."