As I mentioned yesterday, if you want to see a physical description of the Passion, then you have to turn to the Psalms more than the Gospels. In particular, scholars point to 22 and 69 for Messianic prophecies. It’s the second of these that we turn to today.
Can I be brutally candid here? I like the 22nd much more than the 69th. There is not one verse that I can find in the former that couldn’t be applied to Christ, and I honestly believe that it’s an open window into his thoughts as he fulfilled the Father’s plan. Not so the one here today. There’s a lot that can be applied to our Savior: Today’s title refers to one of the multiple prophecies found here which were fulfilled on Good Friday. But there is a lot that can’t.
The author of the Psalm is not perfect, for one thing. He openly acknowledges his sin: “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.” As we know from multiple testimonies, our Lord was not only without sin, but he perfectly obeyed and pleased his Father.
Second, and even more disturbing to me, the Psalmist cries out for vengeance on his foes. We’re going to discuss the place for Psalms like this in the light of the New Testament in a couple of weeks, but leave that aside for now. Whether or not calling curses on one’s foes is sinful, it certainly isn't Christ-like. Our Lord Jesus, after going through all he went through, never evidenced one iota of bitterness or anger towards his persecutors and executioners. On the contrary, he prayed the exact opposite of David here: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
But there is much here that points directly towards the Passion. The Psalmist was completely abandoned not only by his closest friends but by his own family. He looked around, but didn’t find a single person to provide comfort or support. In common with the description of Ps. 22, he was mocked, falsely accused, and completely surrounded by foes.
What about the “gall and vinegar” prophecy? What exactly is “gall,” anyway? It was a poison in Old Testament times, but by the time of the Gospels it was used to describe anything bitter. Mark 15:23 describes it as “myrrh,” a narcotic mercifully given to dying prisoners to lessen their pain. They offered a foul-tasting pain-killer to Christ, and he refused it, probably because he wanted full use of his mental faculties, and apparently he considered any pain-killers to be refusing a bit of the bitter cup his Father had handed to him. The point here is that the verse was fulfilled word-for-word.
Another fulfillment which actually was during his ministry, not his Passion, was vs. 9: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” This was applied in John’s Gospel to Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of his ministry.
The point I’m trying to make here is that we need to be careful when applying O.T. prophecy to Christ. If a Gospel or Epistle writer (under the inspiration of the Spirit) applies it, then we’re on solid ground. Once we step outside the boundaries of what the Spirit has explicitly indicated, caution is warranted.
Just as the 22nd, this one ends in hope that the Lord would ultimately vindicate him (there’s that word again). He knew that the Lord would bring about his justice and pull his Servant out of the pit, and the Servant would glorify him with song and thanksgiving in the end.
So how can we apply this to ourselves right now? Number one, I’m again in awe of what my Savior went through FOR ME. It was MY sin that nailed him to the tree. He was abandoned so that God would never forsake me. He was unjustly condemned so that I (the guilty party) could be forgiven and justified. Second, I’m, again humbled by my Lord’s example. Can I honestly say that “zeal” for God “consumes” me? Really? How about you?
Lord Jesus, I am so grateful for your mercy and grace. If it weren’t for that, I would have no hope. I can’t say that zeal for the Father’s honor consumes me, but I would like for it to be true. Please.
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