babe in a mangerI return to our study of Psalm 22 this 22nd day of December and am reminded by carols, trees decorated with lights, retail flyers and the wishes of “Merry Christmas” that, at least for a few days, the world is hearkening back to an event that has captivated the imagination, if not the heart, of men for two millennium…the birth of Jesus Christ.  During this season, society in general, politicians in particular, and liberal news media evidence a degree of tolerance toward the church and Christians that will soon be dispelled by political rhetoric and an intolerance of any suggestion that the babe of Bethlehem was the crucified Christ of Calvary.

I have been preaching a series on the person of Christ throughout the month of December based on Galatians 4:4-5 and addressing four questions answered by that passage: 1) When did Christ come? 2) Who was Christ? 3) How did Christ come? 4) Why did Christ come? The apostle Paul answered those questions with this statement:

Christ's birthGalatians 4:4-5 – “But when the fulness of the time [lit. time was fulfilled] was come, God sent forth [dispatched; sent from Himself] His Son, made [born; coming forth from] of a woman [i.e. stating both the deity and humanity of Christ], made [born; coming forth from] under [under the power; subject to] the law [ordinances; Commandments], 5  To redeem [ransom; rescue from the curse; purchase] them that were under the law [the penalty and curse of the law], that we might receive [take; receive full; accept gladly] the adoption of sons [to have sonship conferred; full rights of a son; ].”

On Christmas Eve, candlelight services around the world will be reciting the angelic announcement of Christ’s birth, For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Lost in the romantic glow of candlelight and clouded by traditions is the title borne by Jesus, “Saviour”; literally, Deliverer and Redeemer.

Psalm 22 affords us a graphic picture of Christ’s crucifixion a thousand years before it was fulfilled in exacting detail.  I invite you to ponder the scene of the cross painted in today’s psalm.

On the crossPsalm 22:1-31 – “My God [Almighty God; my strength], my God, why hast thou forsaken [left; failed; abandon] me? why art thou so far [remote; distant] from helping [saving; delivering] me, and from the words of my roaring [moaning; cries; distress]?                                                                                           2 O my God [Supreme God; the Godhead], I cry [call out] in the daytime [daily; by day], but thou hearest [answer; respond] not; and in the night season, and am not silent [still; quiet].          3 But thou art holy [completely pure and clean], O thou that inhabitest [dwells; sits; abides] the praises of Israel.                                                                                                                                                                                                               4 Our fathers [chiefs; families] trusted [confident; secure; relied] in thee: they trusted [confident; secure; relied], and thou didst deliver [save; secured] them.                                                                                  5 They cried [assembled and called out] unto thee, and were delivered [preserved]: they trusted [confident; secure; relied] in thee, and were not confounded [ashamed; disappointed].   6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7  All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8  He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.scoffers
9  But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
10  I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
11  Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12  Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a 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 in the midst of my bowels.
15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16  For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17  I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
parting Christ's robes18  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19  But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20  Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21  Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23  Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25  My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
27  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28  For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.
29  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
30  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31  They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.”finished

My friend, the Cross of Calvary was no cruel twist of fate, but a fulfillment of prophecies and the completion of God’s redemptive plan for man’s sin.  Paul summed up this wondrous truth in these words: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith