“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)
Jesus’ words from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
The most common way to refer to a specific point in the Scriptures was to quote the first line. From the cross, Jesus directs our attention to Psalm 22; not to express his pain and fear at being rejected by God, but in order to explain to the crowd at the foot of the cross (and to us) what they were witnessing.
Psalm 22 starts out with words that seem appropriate to the crucifixion. “Why are you so far away from saving me?” – verse 1. “All who see me mock me, they hurl insults, shaking their heads.” – verse 7. “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” – verse 18. This first part of the Psalm focuses on the pain and anguish of God’s servant.
But in the middle of the Psalm there is a shift to expressions of trust in God’s provision and God’s guidance. The change is complete by verse 30 – “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” The Psalm ends on this note of victory and triumph.
Which brings us back to Jesus on the cross. By directing us to Psalm 22, Jesus is trying to show us what is happening on the cross. It may look like a picture of defeat; but if you look closely at the cross – it’s a picture of victory and triumph. It may look as though Jesus is exposed as another Messianic pretender; but in reality the cross proves that Jesus is just who he said he was – “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”