“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Matt. 27:46) The cry that Christ uttered as he gave up his last on the cross, he cries with David, and indeed all of us. He who knew no sin truly became sin for us and experiences in full what David can only imagine in the following verses of this Psalm.
“O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”
“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame” (Ps. 22:3-4).
The Israelites cried out to God and were delivered, yet did they know their Deliverer or why they were delivered? The answer is the same. Their Deliverer is Christ. They were delivered so that the Christ, the God of Advent, Christmas, and eventually Easter, would be delivered to us all!
“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;” (Ps. 22:6)
Faced with his Deliverer, both the Psalmist and we come to terms with the truth of who we all are before a holy God who delivers the sinner.
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him! Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts” (Ps. 22:8-9).
To trust in the Lord, the Messiah, the Deliverer, is our salvation and our only hope. Yet he does not trust us to have this “trust” on our own or of our own will. Thus, through the Psalmist, he speaks the truth to us and tells us since the time we were at our mother’s breast, he “made” us trust him. The trust we have in the Lord, he gave us as a gift.
To trust in the Lord, the Messiah, the Deliverer, is our salvation and our only hope. Yet he does not trust us to have this “trust” on our own or of our own will.
“On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help” (Ps. 22:10-11).
Therefore, we seek the advent or arrival of our Lord. We belong to him, for he has claimed us. And yet, we live here, in this world of sin, and we know the trouble is just outside the door, crouching like a lion who seeks to devour us.
“Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 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; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death” (Ps. 22:12-15).
We all know the feeling the Psalmist describes here. It’s the feeling when fear and anxiety not only surround us but overcome us, when the world and all its worries, troubles, sins, and hardships bear down upon us. At times we are so overwhelmed that we can’t even speak. We open our mouths to praise the Lord, but our doubt and fear overcome us, and our tongues stick to our jaws – the words just don’t come out.
“For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet I can count all my bones––they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Ps. 22:16-18).
And now we know the truth. The Psalmist prophecies of the Messiah for whom we wait during Advent, and who will arrive at Christmas. He prophecies not just of his coming but of his death for you and for me. The evildoers do encircle him, for you and for me. They pierce his hands and feet for you and for me. They cast lots for his clothing as he gives up all for you and for me. And though we cannot open our mouths to call on him, he will open his mouth on that last day and call all those in whom he has given trust home to him.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! (Ps. 22:19-21).
And the Lord is not far off from you. His arrival is here; his coming is nigh. The Lord of Christmas and Easter is not far off. His birth is for you. His death is for you. His resurrection is the seal of the promise that he will call you home on that last day and save you from the power of the dog, from the mouth of the lion, from the horns of the oxen.
“I will tell of your name to my brothers; amid the congregation, I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! All your offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all your offspring of Israel! 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” (Ps. 22:22-24).
And now our mouths are opened for us. The Messiah has said to us, “go into all the World.” And so, we go. We proclaim and praise the name of the Lord the God of Jacob so that all may stand in awe of him, praise his name, and trust in the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Lord. And he will hear and answer our cries!
“From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!” (Ps. 22:25-26).
And on that day, our fears now gone, we will sit at the feast prepared for us from before the foundation of the world. We will finally find in him that thing that always eludes us, satisfaction. And we who trust the Lord will live with him forever.
“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (Ps. 22:27-28).
While we wait, we worry about our earthly rulers and their decisions. We agree with some and heartily disagree with others. We think that their rule will toil upon us forever. But now we know the truth. The true King is coming! All nations and rulers will bow to him. He will rule over all the nations, forever!
“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. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it!” (Ps. 22:29-31).
This Advent and this Christmas, we need a preacher. A preacher to proclaim to us, to the world, to the yet unborn, that the Savior is coming, that the Savior is here! He desires to have you and to bring you home to him on that final day. This Christmas, and every Christmas until he comes again, the Word remains the same. The Lord of life has been born a baby, taken on all sin and death, risen again, and all for you to make you his. He is your true Advent, your true Christmas, and your ever-hopeful Easter. All your hope and trust are in his name, and he will be your Lord forever. Amen.