TEXT: "14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands & feet 17 I can count all my bones they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments amongst them, and for my clothing they cast lots."
There has been a commercial playing recently that is, in it's own way kind of spooky. It consists of several different but similar scenarios. In one scene, a man is sitting in a restaurant having a meal with some other people. The server walks over to him, and hands him a scrap of paper. On that paper is written, "Your heart attack is coming in two days." The announcer then breaks in saying something to the effect of, "Bob's heart attack come without any warning." The commercial is intended to raise awareness of heart disease and whatever preventative measures can be used to prevent that from happening, most likely by using the advertiser's product.
Tonight, I have a similar warning for you. Tonight you are going to die. I could have handed out pieces of paper when you came in with those words printed on them. I could have Emailed you or phoned you ahead of time. I could have even taken out a classified ad in the paper. But I think the advance notice I'm giving you from the pulpit will be enough.
So what are the details of this? Is there a big vat of poison Kool-Aid sitting around someplace? Are there storm troopers outside waiting to raid the place with automatic weapons? Are we sitting in the middle of a target for a nuclear bomb?
I can assure you that it isn't anything that dramatic, but yet it is very real. And I'll be giving you the details of this a little later on; but first let's take a look at our text for this evening from Psalm 22.
This Psalm is a prophetic one that vividly describes our Lord's passion. Jesus even uses the first line of this Psalm on the cross when he says, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And then the Psalm goes on from there, describing the details of our Saviour's suffering on the cross.
It's hard for us to imagine that this very descriptive and detailed Psalm was written roughly a thousand years before the events actually occur. And as Jesus is beaten, and flogged, and crucified, we see the prophecy of this Psalm being fulfilled in alarming detail. Jesus would be punished for our sins in our place. He would be receiving what we all by our sins deserve.
Throughout this Lenten season, we have been focusing our attention on the various "Hands of Lent." As human beings who are so terminally infected with sin, as a result we have hands that hurt, that are dirty, that are seeking, that are estranged, that are nervous, and that are angry. And as we come to Good Friday, we see the hands of Jesus pierced.
Isaiah chapter 53 also has some prophetic words about this situation. Keep in mind the words of Psalm 22 as we listen to Isaiah's prophecy about Jesus, our suffering servant in verses 4-6: "4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
The picture of Jesus we have in Psalm 22 is not a pretty one at all. He is in a tremendous amount of physical agony. The metaphors used here enhance this picture: he is poured out like water, his heart is turned to wax and melted, his strength is dried up like a potsherd. There is very little of his strength left, and he is very near death.
And if his physical description isn't enough, we also see the method of crucifixion described in this Psalm. They have pierced his hands and his feet. The people surrounding him are evil; they stare at him and gloat over him. They jeer him and make fun of him. The physical torture is only compounded by the mass rejection of those around him.
And as he hangs on the cross, stripped completely naked and enduring everything he is subjected to, the final insult of all is about to happen. His clothing is divided amongst the people, even down to his underwear! And instead of dividing his underwear, they hold a lottery and gamble it away. They would take his only material possessions he had in the world.
Jesus knows it has to happen this way. All of the prophecies concerning himself in the Old Testament had to be fulfilled. This was what the Messiah had to do because God so loved the world.
Jesus was crucified in between two thieves. We don't know what kind of spectacle they were, or what kind of gloating and insults were being hurled at them, or what happened to their clothing. But they were being punished justly for the wrong they had committed. They were pierced too, but not for the same reason. What they were experiencing would not have the same effect as what Jesus went through.
When we look at Jesus, we see his hands pierced. This was not for anything he had done, but for the sins of the entire world. You and me and everybody else who deserve punishment for our sins would not have to pay that price. We would not have our hands pierced in punishment. Instead the innocent Saviour of the world would have the steel of the nails piercing his flesh for the likes of you and me. Jesus lovingly and willingly takes this kind of punishment and torture on our behalf.
If you recall at the beginning of the sermon this evening, I said that you were going to die tonight. If you are still puzzled by that comment, I'm going to let the Apostle Paul give you the answer. Let's look at what he records in Romans chapter 6 verses 5-11: "5 For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Does that help clear things up for you? Jesus took our sins to the cross, all of our sins, everybody's sins, so those sins could be put to death. When our sinful selves die, those sins are removed from us completely. The payment has been made. When Jesus died on the cross, we also died with him. There is no more punishment.
In verse 8 of Romans 6, remember what Paul writes: "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." And then he continues in verse 11: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Tonight we are going to die with Jesus in his death, so we can live with him in his resurrection. We don't have to endure what Jesus did in his sufferings. He did it for us. He did it so that through faith alone we would share in his life for all eternity.
Our guilt and all of the bad stuff that sin has caused in our lives was indeed crucified and put to death in the body of Jesus our Saviour. Remember the words of Isaiah chapter 53 verse 5: "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."
Listen also to the words of Psalm 103 verses 10-12: "10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us."
Just think of the comfort those words bring! We can be assured that those sins nailed to the cross are indeed dead. They have been removed forever. Because of what Jesus did for us, we don't have to worry that God is going to keep haunting us with those sins and keep bringing them up over and over again. They are dead and they are forever gone!
We have come to Jesus with hands that carry the mark of a sinful world and a sinful life. Jesus allowed his hands to be pierced for us, so that our hurting hands will be healed, our dirty hands will be cleansed, our nervous hands will be calmed, our angry hands will find peace, our seeking hands will be found, and our estranged hands will once again be joined together with the hands of our God in perfect fellowship and harmony.
Tonight our entire sinful selves are going to die with Christ, so we may be raised to a new life in him, which we have through faith alone in Christ Jesus, who alone is our resurrection and our life.