Messiah Must First Suffer – Psalm 22

26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”  Luke 24:26-32 NKJV

The death of Jesus on the cross appeared to be a great blow to His followers.  They had expected the Messiah (Christ in Greek) to immediately assume leadership of the Jewish nation and to overthrow the Roman government.  With Jesus dead and in the tomb, there no longer appeared to be any hope.  It looked like all their ministry efforts with Him over the past three years were a failure and a waste, all for naught.

Such was the thinking of two of these disciples as they abandoned their ministry efforts in Jerusalem and sullenly began to walk home to the town of Emmaus.

As they walked along, they were joined by a mysterious stranger.  It was in fact the risen, glorified Jesus Christ, who as victorious Messiah would continue the ministry of reconciliation from sin to the entire world.

But the two did not recognize Him.  Perhaps His glorified appearance was altered, or He was covered or cloaked, but they were not expecting to see Him on this dusty road to Emmaus.  The last they knew of, Jesus was in a tomb in Jerusalem.

Their eyes were open to Him as He broke the bread and blessed it, much like He did with His disciples a few days earlier at the Passover meal.  They realized that the Holy Spirit burned like fire in their hearts as He spoke of the scriptures that prophesied that the Messiah must first suffer before being glorified, to atone for the sins of the world.

We do not know for sure which scriptures Jesus referred to, but likely they included David’s Psalm 22.  Many of these verses have direct application to Messiah’s suffering on a cross 1,000 years later. Psalm 22 was also penned long before the cruel practice of crucifixion was used.

Some of the verses in Psalm 22 that foretell the crucifixion of Jesus are:

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;

17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.  Psalm 22:14,16-18 NKJV

The fiercest spiritual forces of evil certainly gathered from around the globe to surround Christ as He was dying on the cross.  They tormented and mocked Him, even after the tremendous beating he had endured and the inhumane act of crucifixion.  After they had done their worst to Him, they wanted Jesus to come down off the cross before He died so all His suffering would be in vain.

Yet Jesus stayed His course on the cross and offered Himself for us, an innocent Lamb bearing our sin and shame.  He endured all the taunts and the pain because He loves us and wanted to perform this cleansing act. With this mission fulfilled, His believers could now be cloaked with His righteousness and allowed eternal entry into the kingdom of heaven. 

Psalm 22 shows us that this was God’s plan from the beginning.  He would come to earth as a man and do for us what we were unable to do for ourselves – live a life of obedience to the Father and offer Himself as a spotless sacrifice in our place. 

Given that Jesus did so much for us, it is not something that we would foolishly want to ignore or reject.  Be encouraged that He loves and cares for you – reach out to Him in prayer today.

Reflection

Isaiah Chapter 53 also gives a powerful prophecy about how the coming Messiah must first suffer, then be resurrected to glory. It tells us about the forgiveness, healing, and eternal life that flow to us from this loving act.  It is a short chapter and well worth reading.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for suffering for us on the cross so that we may be cleansed as we reach out to You. We claim your gift of forgiveness and light, and proclaim that You are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Light of the World.  Amen

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