The Terrible, Beautiful Cross

The Terrible, Beautiful Cross Easter 2017

Lighthouse Leader Study Guide

Date: April 9, 2017

Series: Easter 2017

Psalm 22

This Week’s Printable Resources:


Overview of this Lesson

The next two weeks we will push pause in our study of 1 Samuel as we remember and celebrate Holy Week. As a church, we will celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into the City of Jerusalem, the agony of the cross on Good Friday, and the victory of death on Resurrection Sunday. While Christians around the world celebrate Holy Week, Jews will celebrate the Passover.

This coming week, we will get a first-person account of what Messiah experienced on the cross as we look at Psalm 22. This psalm, written by David some 1000 years before Christ, is not the depiction of a sick and dying man, but the execution of a criminal by crucifixion. Charles Spurgeon called this “The Psalm of the Cross,” and rightly so.

While we will look at the words used to describe death by crucifixion, our focus will be on the true pain and agony of the cross. While His beloved Son hung on the cross, God the Father turned from Him and forsake Him (abandoned Him). What a graphic lesson this is for us as we see a Holy God pour His wrath out upon the Son for the sins of the world.

REMINDER: We will not provide a lesson for the week of Easter. Many of our groups do not meet either the days going into Easter or Easter week. If you plan on meeting both weeks, please plan accordingly. Our text for Easter Sunday will be Psalm 16.

Memory Verse for This Week

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” – Psalm 22:1

This Week’s Core Belief

Jesus Christ (John 1:12): We believe in Jesus Christ, His deity, virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, burial and bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father and His personal future return in power and glory. We are significant only because of our position as children of God.

This Week’s Take Home Truth

“The terrible, beautiful cross is God’s ultimate evidence of his pure, compassionate character and sure, confident salvation, and it’s the only place you will ever experience true satisfaction for your soul and perpetual praise from your life.”


Introduction

  1. Why does it hurt when a friend or loved one gives you the cold shoulder?
  1. When was a time when you felt like God was unreachable or silent?
  1. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.


Read the Text (Psalm 22)

This week we will get a first-person account of what Messiah experienced on the cross as we look at Psalm 22. This psalm, written by David some 1000 years before Christ, is not the depiction of a sick and dying man, but the execution of a criminal by crucifixion. Charles Spurgeon called this “The Psalm of the Cross,” and rightly so. Read Psalm 22.

Psalm 22 (ESV)

To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

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 and feet—

17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!

21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.

26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

28 For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.

30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.


Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.

  1. How do we know Psalm 22 is prophetic?

Psalms 22, 23, and 24 form a trilogy on Christ the Shepherd. In 22, the Good Shepherd dies for the sheep (John 10:1–18); in 23, the Great Shepherd lives for the sheep and cares for them (Heb. 13:20– 21); and in 24, the Chief Shepherd returns in glory to reward His sheep for their service (1 Peter 5:4).

While Psalm 22 is a psalm of David, it is clear David is seeing with prophetic eyes as he writes the words to this psalm. (Acts 2:29-31 identifies David as a prophet.) There is no incident in David’s life that would mirror the scene he is describing. Moreover, the gospel writers, especially Matthew, make a clear line of connection between Psalm 22 and the experience of our Lord on the Cross of Calvary. Charles Spurgeon called this “The Psalm of the Cross.”

What we are witnessing in Psalm 22 is not the cries of a sick and dying man, but the execution of a criminal by crucifixion. What is remarkable, is that crucifixion was not the method of execution employed by the Jews—stoning was the method of execution. Moreover, the method of crucifixion was not even developed until roughly 300 BC by the Persians.

  1. What do we learn about crucifixion from Psalm 22?

Arnold Fruchtenbaum identifies the descriptive words used in Psalm 22:12-18 that parallel death by crucifixion:

Description of the Agony—22:12–18[1]

These verses describe the suffering of Messiah, and some of these words are almost quoted in the New Testament.

 Surrounded and stared at—22:12–13.

  Physical agony—22:14–17.

          I am poured out like water.

     This emphasizes excessive sweat.

         All my bones are out of joint.

     After the nailing on the ground, the cross would be raised to the vertical and dropped into a deep slot in the ground. The shock of this action would cause multiple dislocations.

            iii. My heart is like melted wax.

     A Hebrew phrase meaning “a ruptured heart,” evidenced by the pouring out of blood and water.

        My strength is dried up like a potsherd.

     His strength is totally gone.

         My tongue cleaves to my jaws.

     His tongue cleaves to the roof of His mouth, emphasizing excessive thirst. After six hours on the cross, three of them in total darkness, Jesus said, “I thirst.” This meant more than physical thirst. During those three hours of intense darkness, Jesus suffered the outpouring of God’s wrath, the pangs of Hell itself. Jesus had previously spoken of a rich man who, after only a few moments in Hell had said, “I thirst” (Luke 16). Jesus’ saying these same words reflects the extreme suffering of the pain of Hell which He experienced while hanging on the cross

        They pierced my hands and my feet.

     The Hebrew word for piercing used here is not the same as that used in Zechariah 12:10. The word used in Zechariah means “to thrust through” and would be consistent with the Roman spear which pierced Jesus’ side. The word used here in Psalm 22 is the word which would be used, for example, of ear piercing and would be consistent with the nailing of Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross.

            vii. I can count all my bones.

     His bones are protruding.

    They divide my garments among them—22:18.

In verse 18, Messiah’s clothes are divided amongst His tormentors by the casting of lots. Once again, this was quite literally fulfilled at Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23–24).

 6.  What was the most devastating aspect of our Lord’s crucifixion?

Without question, Jesus suffered physically both before His crucifixion and during the act of crucifixion, but His physical pain would not be uncommon to other men executed by this method.

What separated the crucifixion of Jesus from other common criminals was the separation from God while God’s wrath for your sins and mine were poured out upon Jesus.

Nothing separates us from a holy God like sin, and the sins of the world were being placed up Jesus during these fateful hours. The Apostle Paul tells us,

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The words to this psalm begin with

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. – Psalm 22:1–2.

Fruchtenbaum notes,

These verses find Messiah crying out in deepest anguish. It is no accident that these are the very words that Jesus cried out while hanging on the cross. He quoted these words after a period of three hours of intense darkness. During those three hours the entire wrath of God, due to the sins of Israel and the world, was poured out upon Him. This is the one and only place in the Gospel accounts that Jesus addresses God as “my God.” On every other occasion, and there are over 170 references, Jesus says “Father” or “my Father.” It is made very clear that Jesus enjoyed a very special, unique relationship with God. On the cross, however, Jesus was dying for the sins of the world, and was experiencing a judicial relationship with God, not a paternal one; hence His cry of “my God, my God” instead of “my Father, my Father.”[2]

This separation from God was the most painful aspect of our Lord’s time on the cross. There are two important lessons we need to learn from this:

  • Sin separates us from God. This was God’s own beloved Son (John 3:16) and He abandoned Him in this gravest of hours. He turned His back on Him and could not even look upon Jesus. We cannot harbor sin in our heart and expect a close relationship with the Lord. We cannot hunger and thirst after evil and anticipate a holy inner peace and joy that comes when our heart is right with God.
  • God turns away from sin. Many of us have experienced times of silence from God. For some, it has been many years. We cannot categorically claim that when God is silent it is because of sin in our life. Job is an excellent example of a righteous man who experienced the silence of God, but it had nothing to do with sin in his life. We do know, however, that we cannot experience sweet communion with God when there is sin in our life, that God’s silence is a sign of sin in our life.

John MacArthur observes,

When God is silent that’s judgment. And a good passage to support that concept is Proverbs 1:23–28. When God doesn’t talk it’s because men have refused to listen for so long that His silence is judgmental.

7.  How should we respond when we experience a season of God’s silence?

Few things can unsettle a Christian more than to sense a growing distance between him/herself and God. As believers, our soul longs for close fellowship and communion with our Lord, and when He is distant, it can and should unsettle us.

Consider these cries of the psalmist to the Lord concerning His silence:

Psalm 28:1 To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.

Psalm 39:12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.

Psalm 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Psalm 109:1 Be not silent, O God of my praise!

When we are experiencing God’s silence, here are four guideposts for us as we walk this unfamiliar path:

  • Search your heart. Sin creeps into our lives in the most unexpected places. We often build strong defenses against the “big sins” (pride, lust, anger, hatred), but while we are placing the bricks in our fortress, the Devil slithers in between a small crack. David was aware of our blindness to these hidden attacks, and this is why he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24. We, too, need to pray this prayer and welcome loving search of a merciful God.
  • Confess known sin. There are times when sin sneaks into our life and takes root before we recognize the danger. At other times, we harbor known sin for reasons that make perfect sense to the sinner, but, in truth, are really only the lie of the Devil. John Piper notes, “one of the reasons that some people suffer from extended times of darkness is the unwillingness to renounce some cherished sin.” When we cherish sin in our heart, we take an axe to the root of our own tree. Over time, cherished sin causes our bones to waste away through endless groaning (Psalm 32:3). The Lord offers us up and redemption in the finished work of Christ. He offers forgiveness rooted in His grace and mercy. To begin walking with Christ in this life, we must walk in repentance from known sin.
  • Rest in your salvation. When the storm is raging, and God is silent, we are prone to listen to the wrong voices. Resist that temptation and instead return to what is known and trusted—the Word of God. Look at David’s words in Psalm 22:4-5 “Our fathers trusted in You’ They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered’ They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.” Immediately after crying out at the realization that God has forsaken Him, the psalmist returns to what is known: God is a trustworthy God. He has delivered His people before, and He will rescue Him now.
  • Wait upon the Lord. Turn the pages of your Bible a few pages to the right and you will come to another psalm of David—Psalm 27. In this psalm, David declares, “Wait on the Lord’ Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart’ Wait on the Lord! Saints over the centuries have turned to Isaiah 40 in times of trials for the hope found in these words: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Your dark night may turn into a season of dark nights in which God is silent, but He is there, watching, waiting.

Concluding Thoughts

These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.

  1. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
  1. What is one step you can take to draw closer to God this week?
  1. Is there someone the Lord is placing on your heart right now who is away from God and needs some encouragement to return to Him?

 


Notes:

[1]  Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology: A Study of Old Testament Prophecy Concerning the First Coming of the Messiah (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998), 85.

[2] Fruchtenbaum, 84.

By |2017-05-24T14:53:37-05:00April 6th, 2017|Weekly Resources|0 Comments

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