The greatest season of the year is approaching, the season when we remember and celebrate the greatest event in history: The death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. Though out the series, “The Sling for God”, we have been studying each of David’s Psalms individually. It is fitting, over the course of the next three parts to this series, to take a close look at what is considered to be the most famous prophetic Psalm about the Messiah: Psalm 22.
In general, Psalm 22 describes the torment, rejection and death of our Lord and Saviour:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest….But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’…Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” (Psalms 22: 1-2,6-8,12-15 NIV)
Here we have such a vivid picture of what was going through Jesus’ mind as he hung on that cruel, rough cross; his body beaten, bleeding, broken; His pain more than excruciating. And to make things worse, He was mocked by men and rejected by God.
Can you relate? We may never have had the excruciating pain that went along with Jesus’ crucifixion, but we all go through bad times, times when we feel like it might be better off to be … dead! We are lonely. We are sad. It seems that no one cares. Maybe we are in the midst of a bad medical diagnosis or are recovering from major surgery. Maybe we have lost everything to a flood or fire. Maybe our family has abandoned us. Whatever it may be, the last thing in our minds is to reach out and help others.
Yet isn’t this what Jesus did? In the midst of His suffering on the cross, He reached out three different times…
The first time, the soldiers were casting lots for his clothing. Jesus knew how much they needed a savior, and despite His own suffering, He took pity on them. His words? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV).
The second time, while one of the thieves crucified with Jesus was busy mocking Him, the second thief rebukes him. He then turns to Jesus and asks to be remembered in paradise (See Luke 23:42). Despite His own pain and agony, Jesus’ thoughts turned in love to that repentant thief as He said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NIV).
The third time, Jesus looked down to see His mother Mary. We must remember that in those days, a widowed woman had no one but her sons to care for her. Now Mary’s son hung on a cross. Despite His agony, Jesus’ heart went out to her. Even in His most challenging moment, His thoughts centered to the care of His precious mother: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’” (John 19:26-27 NIV)
Whatever it is we are going through, the cross was worse. If Jesus could reach out to others during the worst set of circumstances in history, what about us?
I can tell you from personal experience just how much better it makes us feel when we reach out to someone to help them, even when we are also in the midst of trials. Throughout my teaching career, there were often times when I felt completely overwhelmed. Nonetheless, I always tried to take every opportunity to reach out to help people. I always tried to make my co-teachers and my principal feel special, and I made a point of doing nice things for the support staff. I always got a smile, and that always seemed to erase all of the stress of my own problems, leaving me feeling content and at peace. If Jesus could reach out to others on the cross, then how can we expect to do any different?
We need to all follow Jesus’ example and love people enough to want to help them even in the midst of our own circumstances. It you would like to reflect Jesus this Easter season, why not put aside your own pain and suffering and negative circumstances, even just for a bit, and reach out to help someone? When you do, you will be following Jesus’ example, you will be filled with His happiness and His presence, and you will feel His peace wash over you.
Remember, we are truly never alone. Jesus is with us constantly!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)