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Come and See What God Has Done!

April 12, 2020 Speaker: Brian Wilbur Series: Holy Week 2020

Topic: Holy Week Passage: Psalm 22:1–31


An Exposition of Psalm 22

By Pastor Brian Wilbur

Date:   April 12, 2020

Series: Resurrection Sunday; Holy Week 2020

Note:   Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard   Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Special Note to the Reader

The vast majority of my sermons are in manuscript form prior to the moment of preaching, then an edited manuscript is made available to the church family and to the wider public. However, during the season of time when churches were unable to gather together because of the Covid-19 crisis, no manuscripts were prepared. Therefore what follows is an edited transcript of the sermon that I preached through video. For those who have read my manuscripts, don’t be surprised if this transcript sounds different than what you are accustomed to.

The Lord’s grace be with you as you read!



Well, Good Morning on this Resurrection Sunday!

I want to begin with a little call-and-response. I know that you'll have to respond from your own living room, but let's do it anyway:

Me: Christ is risen!

You: He is risen indeed!

Okay, let's do a little more call-and-response:

Me (singing): “Christ the Lord is ris’n today”

You (singing): “Al – le – lu – ia!”[1]

All right, one more:

Me (singing): “Up from the grave…”

You (singing): “… He arose”![2]

Well, I hope that you were able to fill in the blanks. If you weren't able to, that's okay. But Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

We have an opportunity this morning to reflect on the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I've been thinking about something over the past week that I think is helpful to consider before we get into the Word today.

As human beings in general, we are often tempted to focus on our own deeds and on our own efforts to make life work and to experience the blessing (however we may define that). And what is always a temptation, is especially a temptation in a time of crisis. There are so many things that we are doing or that we are being told to do – you know, here's how you do life under a quarantine, here's how you wash your hands, here's how you sanitize your groceries or your electrical equipment, or here's how you homeschool (if haven’t homeschooled before, and now you have to do it, well, here's how you do it). Even as a church, we could be thinking about things like – here's how you do video conferencing, or here's how you do live streaming, or here's what you can do to set up electronic giving. And of course as a society and around the world, we are making efforts through social distancing and economic shutdown to contain this virus and flatten the curve. 

I'm not suggesting that any of these particular actions is necessarily wrong. I'm just saying that it is so easy for us to be totally focused on our doings, our attempts, our efforts, and to forget that the most important ‘doings’ in the universe, are the things that God does! Do you remember when Israel found itself between the Red Sea in front of them and the pursuing Egyptians behind them, that Moses said to them – do you remember what he told them to do? He basically told them to do nothing, do not be afraid, “stand firm and see the salvation” that the Lord will provide (Exodus 14:13). So I want to invite all of us on this Resurrection Day to turn away from our preoccupation with our own deeds and our own efforts, and instead turn to the Lord and ponder what he has done – indeed the great things that he has done for our salvation.

In Luke 24, the women went to the tomb in the morning and the tomb was empty and two angels appeared to these women and said, “He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6). And the women went to tell the apostles and the apostles did not believe their testimony. Later that day two of the disciples were traveling together on the way to Emmaus, and they were grieving. They hadn't yet come to understand and believe that the Lord is risen. In fact, the Lord Jesus actually joined these two men on the road, but they didn't recognize him. They didn't know it was him. They were grieving because they had hoped that Jesus would prove to be the Redeemer.  They had great expectations but now with the crucifixion a couple days earlier, their hopes were dashed. They were disappointed and grieving and yet they were also perplexed and in a state of confusion, because they had heard the women's testimony, that the tomb was empty and they wondered what's going on. And Jesus is right there standing next to them and they don't know it. And this is what Jesus says to these two disciples: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

The New Testament, of course, teaches us about the sufferings of Christ and the glories that follow. But the New Testament also teaches us, just as this passage does, that the Old Testament also teaches us about “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:11). That's what Jesus says here in Luke 24 (v. 25-27, 44-47. The Apostle Peter said almost the exact same thing in 1 Peter 1:10-12. Then the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 told us “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). That's the message of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. Christ had to suffer and then he entered into glory and all of the glories that follow.

So here's today's visual aid (not reproduced in the transcript). We're actually going to turn to Psalm 22. Perhaps Psalm 22 was one of those Scriptures that Jesus unpacked for the two disciples whom he met on the road to Emmaus. But as you can see over here, this is what the whole Bible is doing. It's telling us about the suffering, the death, the cross of the Messiah. And it's also telling us about the glory, the resurrection, the crown of the Messiah. This is what the whole Bible is telling us about. And what the whole Bible does, Psalm 22 does.

If you have your Bible, I would invite you to turn there and what you'll see is that Psalm 22, in verses one through the first part of verse 21, portray the sufferings of Christ. And then the second half of verse 21 through verse 31 point to the glories of Christ that followed after his suffering and death.

I know that you might initially think it's strange to preach from Psalm 22 on Resurrection Sunday. Maybe you think: Doesn’t it make more sense to preach Psalm 22 on Good Friday? Well, I have to say that it's a good passage to preach on either or both of these days, because – like I said – it gives us the whole package: both the sufferings and the glory of the Messiah.


To start off, let me let me read verses 1 through the first part of verse 21, which portray the sufferings of Christ. Jesus himself uttered the words of the very first verse while he was on the cross – and really the whole psalm points to the Messiah's mindset and we ought to think of it in these terms – that all of Psalm 22 is Christ Jesus speaking to his Father through the words of this psalm.

Now let me read from Psalm 22:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
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.

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;
“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.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and 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 within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21a     Save me from the mouth of the lion!” (Psalm 22:1-21a)

This is God's Word and it is for our good. Let me pray: Father, I pray that this Word would bless, encourage and strengthen our hearts today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let me just talk very briefly about the structure of this initial section (verses 1 through the first part of verse 21). In verses 1 and 2, Jesus is crying out to the Father and yet his prayer is not yet answered. Then in verses 3 through 10, he describes his sufferings. In verse 11, he again cries out to the Father, but his prayer is not yet answered. In verses 12 through 18, he continues to describe his sufferings. In verses 19 through the first part of verse 21, he again cries out to the Father. And what you'll see is after this third time, his prayer is answered. And that flows right into the glory of the resurrection.

But first, let's just walk through verses 1-21a a little bit.

In verses 1-2, Jesus is crying out to the Father. He is forsaken. He is not yet saved or delivered. He is restless, his prayer is not yet answered. And yet he is our Lord Jesus who trusts God with all his heart.

In verses 3-5, Jesus looks back on the history of Israel and God's dealings with Israel. He's able to look back and see that over and over again, God's faithful people from the past – they praised God, they trusted him, they cried to him, and God was faithful to deliver, to rescue, to vindicate. God was the enthroned king in their midst, protecting and saving the people, and yet here is our Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross, not yet delivered, not yet rescued, not yet vindicated, but rather shamed.

And you can see that in contrast to those prior deliverances, how does Jesus describe his suffering in verse 6? “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me” (v. 6-7). If you're familiar with the gospels, you know that the chief priests and the religious leaders, they mocked Jesus. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus. The passers-by, while he hung on the cross, mocked him. The robbers who were crucified with him also mocked him. It would be difficult for us to handle being mocked by just one person, let alone by seemingly everyone turned against us.

Isn't it sad to see the wicked human heart that is on display here? Before us is the Lord Jesus Christ – the one who embodies the perfection of God, perfect obedience, perfect faithfulness, perfect love, and we mock him. As they were mocking him, they said in verse 8, “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him” – this was part of their mockery. They're heart-attitude says ‘you look cursed, you look damned, and you really trust the Lord?’ They judged by appearances but missed the reality! And yet not only were they mocking the Lord of glory, they were mocking the Lamb – the spotless Lamb who had actually come to save sinners like them. They mocked the only one who could actually save them.

Perhaps you're familiar with a song by Twila Paris called ‘Lamb of God’. One of the stanzas has these words:

“Your gift of love they Crucified

They laughed and scorned Him as He died

The humble King they named a fraud

And sacrificed the Lamb of God”[3]

In verses 9-10, Jesus goes on to indicate the fact that he himself is trusting in his Father. From his very first breath, all the way up until the present moment, he is leaning on his heavenly Father and trusting God Almighty to come through for him. In verse 11, he cries out again, “Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.” There is none to help in this universe, except you God – except you Father. But his prayer is not yet answered.

In verses 12-18, Jesus continues to describe his sufferings. He refers to these violent evildoers – who surround him and oppose him and seek his ruin – he describes them as “strong bulls” (v. 12), as “a ravening and roaring lion” (v. 13), as undomesticated and unfriendly “dogs” (v. 16), who seek his life and seek to bring about his demise. So here we see our Lord Jesus Christ as a man opposed, as a man who is being brought to ruin. His body and his emotions are in great despair as he hangs on the cross (v. 14-15). And yet it's not just that these evil men get to carry out their own desires. They are actually unwittingly carrying out the remarkable plan of God to save sinners. As Christ says in verse 15, “you” – referring to God his Father – “you lay me in the dust of death.” Remarkable!

What I want you to see here is to just appreciate the fact that our Savior entered into the depths of our desolation and devastation as sinful people. Our Savior didn't fly down to earth as some kind of superhero to save the day in some kind of visibly dramatic fashion that left him unscathed. No, he entered into “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). He entered into the darkest place – and this is good news for sinners like us.

In the very first verse – which I didn't say much about yet, but I want to now – Christ prays from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1) It is a cry of anguish. It is a cry of despair. If you're familiar with the Gospels, do you know when it was that Jesus uttered that cry? The gospel of Matthew tells us that starting at noon on the day that he was crucified, a great darkness covered the land – and that great darkness lasted from noon until 3:00 p.m. (Matthew 27:45) And then around 3:00 p.m. – just shortly before Jesus breathed his last and died, shortly before that – Jesus cried out this cry of despair, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). It was a genuine cry of anguish.

And yet, we know – and of course he also knew – the answer to that question. Why was Jesus forsaken? The answer is that Jesus was bearing our sins, he was bearing our guilt, he was bearing our shame, he was bearing our punishment, he was bearing our darkness, he was bearing all that we deserve to experience as our proper judgment under the righteous hand of God. Just ponder this, I wrote down a few things and I want to make sure I get this right. Jesus was forsaken, so that we might not be forsaken. He was ruined, so that we might be rescued. He was brought to desolation, so that we might be delivered. He entered into thick darkness under God's judgment, so that we might become children of light who live under God's favor. He drank the cup of God's wrath, so that we might freely drink the cup of the Lord's salvation. The 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon put it this way: ‘He drank damnation dry’. Jesus entered into the thick darkness for us, in order to rescue us, that we might be reconciled to God. (See Isaiah 53:4-12; Romans 3:21-26, 5:6-11; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18)


Well, now we come to verses 19 through 21. This is the Messiah’s third cry to God that we see in this Psalm. It is at this point where the answer comes. Let me read it again – this time including the second half of verse 21:

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!” (Psalm 22:19-21)

The second half of verse 21 is the turning point of the psalm! Here, God has rescued his suffering Messiah. Here, God has answered the cry of Christ. Now everything changes, as we read through the end of the chapter.


So let me read verses 22 to 31. As I do so, I want you to picture the risen Christ speaking these words:

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 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.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 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.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.” (Psalm 22:22-31)

Do you see how the tone of these final ten verses is different than the earlier part of the psalm? Remember, the first part of the psalm told us about the suffering and death of Christ. Now we are getting a window into the glory – and the glorious implications – of his resurrection.

In the New Testament, Hebrews 2:12 actually quotes Psalm 22:22, where Jesus is standing among his people – he is standing among his church, and He says: “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Have you pictured the Lord Jesus Christ as the chief evangelist, the chief preacher, the chief worshiper, and the chief worship leader, who stands among the people of God and leads us into the worship of God the Father? Have you pictured Jesus that way? Of course, it is true that we rightfully render praise and worship to Jesus himself. But the emphasis here in Psalm 22 is that Jesus himself is worshipping the Father. Jesus says to the Father, “I will praise you”! Jesus is proclaiming his Father's name: “I will tell of your name.” Jesus is the worship leader, who calls us into worship. Do you see this? Jesus calls forth to us, “You who fear the LORD, praise him!” and “glorify him” and “stand in awe of him” (v. 23).

Why? Why should we answer Jesus’ call and join him in worshiping the Father? Well, look at verse 24 – verse 24 is so key in understanding this psalm and understanding our worship of God. Why are we to “praise” and “glorify” and “stand in awe” of God Almighty? Because of what he has done in delivering his Son: “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. (Psalm 22:24) In other words, God did not ultimately abandon his Son. Yes, Christ was forsaken by God for a moment (v. 1), but he was not forgotten (v. 24). Although Christ was scorned and despised by men (v. 6), he was dearly loved by the Father (v. 24). And on the third day, the Father gave his stamp of approval upon his Son. Though Jesus is despised and rejected by men, He is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 2:4). God raised him up and exalted him and honored him.

Here in Psalm 22, Jesus is proclaiming to us this glorious gospel truth: ‘I am risen. My God has not despised my broken body, my shed blood, my suffering and death, but he has answered me. He has vindicated me. He has raised me up.’ And now the risen Lord Jesus Christ is calling his people – he is calling forth to all of us who believe in him – he is calling us to rejoice and celebrate and praise God because of his resurrection.

I just want you to think about something. Our chief worship leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, he comes to us. He was the afflicted one, the suffering one, the forsaken one, the dying Lamb. Do you see his wounds, his broken body, his shed blood? This is the one who stands among us. This is the one who calls us to praise the God who raised him from the dead. And indeed his resurrection from the dead is our only hope. Jesus went into the thick darkness for us. He endured the wrath of God for us. And the Father has raised him up. And now all who would believe in Christ will share in that glorious resurrection.

All of this is very good news for the poor in spirit. Look at verse 26: “The afflicted” – the poor, the needy, like you and like me, we will “eat and be satisfied” in this glorious truth of the gospel. And “those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!” (Psalm 22:26) This Gospel of a resurrected Son who suffered on our behalf – this is our life. This is our hope and this fills us with joy.

As the psalm comes to a conclusion, the Lord Jesus Christ sees this glorious gospel going forth to all the world. Isn't it remarkable? Psalm 22 begins with a solitary sufferer forsaken by God on the cross. But Psalm 22 ends with the gospel of this resurrected Son going forth to all the nations and sweeping up the globe in worship. You see this in verse 27. The gospel is for everyone. The gospel is that which is able to reconcile us to God and turn sinners into worshippers. The gospel is for everyone: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.” (Psalm 22:27) God's promise to Abraham to bless “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3) – all the families and clans and tribes and language groups – is now fulfilled through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And look at verse 29. I had to get some help on verse 29 – I looked at some old commentaries and I think this might be the gist – again highlighting the same theme that the gospel is for everyone. The gospel is for the rich, as verse 29 begins: “All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship”. The gospel is for the poor, as verse 29 continues: “before him [the Lord] shall bow all who go down to the dust”. And the gospel is for those who have no strength, as verse 29 concludes: “even the one who could not keep himself alive” [that is, the weak person also will bow down before the Lord].

The gospel is for everyone: for all the nations (v. 27); for all kinds of people – rich, poor, weak (v. 29); and the gospel is also for future generations (v. 30-31). The gospel is for every generation: “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.” (Psalm 22:30-31) Do you see the whole world – all kinds of people, rich and poor, and both present and future generations – all joining together in the worship of almighty God? And how does this psalm end? The psalm concludes by telling us “that he has done it” – that the Lord has done it. Done what? Well, what the Lord has done may encompass a lot of things, but it certainly includes the glorious thing that God did back in verse 24. What did God do? He did not despise his Son, but he raised him from the dead – and this changes everything! This remarkable, righteous, faithful, and gracious doing of the Lord – the raising of his Son! – this is the mightiest deed of the Lord that shall be proclaimed and that shall turn sinners into worshippers and that shall give us hope in difficult days and that shall lead us to glory and satisfy our hearts forever.


Now friend, this glorious gospel blessing – it doesn't automatically produce worshippers out of everyone. Not everyone gets saved, not everyone shares in the glorious blessings of the Messiah. In order to be saved, you must believe! You must receive the gift of God's Son. You must look upon the cross and see a Savior who went into the darkness for you, who bore your sins into the place of God’s judgment, and who now offers you his life. Would you follow him? Would you trust him? Would you lean on him? Would you make him your Savior, Lord, Worship Leader, and King forever? Jesus and Jesus alone is able to bring you into the presence of God. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

So friends, let me just leave you with some very simple thoughts here. There is a suffering Savior who went into the thick darkness for you. The suffering Savior is now the risen Savior who leads his people into the presence of God. And finally, the glory of this risen Savior must be proclaimed to all the world – to our own children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Let us be faithful to do it and to proclaim his word and to leave a legacy of faithfulness, so that many others might join us in worshiping God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ whom God raised from the dead.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and strengthen you and shine the light of his favor upon you, today and always.

God bless you.



[1] From the hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” by Charles Wesley.

[2] From the hymn “Christ Arose” by Robert Lowry.

[3] Twila Paris, “Lamb of God.” Available online: