Yesterday, I pointed out that the true nature of Jesus’ suffering on the cross was the spiritual separation from the Father. This spiritual torture was far greater than the physical torture that Christ experienced, and is what led to Him initially quoting this Psalm: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Today, we will continue to look, phrase-by-phrase, at some of the physical torture that our Lord experienced on the cross. Hopefully, this will open our eyes to the sheer depth of His suffering.
Please read Psalm 22:16-17 now.
Jesus’ physical torture is exacerbated by the evil people who surround Him. They are like hungry “dogs.” Earlier in this Psalm, He described the leaders as “strong bulls” and “roaring lions.” Now, He turns His attention to the crowds in general, who are not as strong as the leaders, but are equally ferocious.
Jesus then points out their hypocrisy. The Jewish people regularly referred to themselves as “an assembly of the righteous,” but Jesus calls them “an assembly of evildoers.” Those who thought themselves righteous were actually evil, because they were tormenting someone they thought was evil, but was actually righteous.
A clearer prophecy of crucifixion could not be given than “they have pierced my hands and feet.” This is remarkable given that this Psalm was written hundreds of years before crucifixion was first developed by the Persians in 300-400BC, and nearly a millennium before crucifixion was perfected by the Romans and used to execute our Lord.
From a physical pain standpoint, imagine the roughly 5-7 inch nails being driven through the Median nerve, the primary nerve in each wrist. That alone is unbearably painful! Then another nail was drive through the feet, which were probably stacked one on top of the other to save materials. Each time our Lord had to take a breath, He would pull Himself up by the nails in His wrists and push Himself up from the nail in His feet—likely tearing those nerves even more with each breath and sending another shock wave of pain throughout His body.
This was done to a Man who was so emaciated from His fasting and suffering that He could “count all my bones.” In the 1700’s, Bishop George Horne theorized that “The body’s position on the cross extended the skin and flesh so that the bones, as through a thin veil, became visible.”
His bones were not just visible to Himself, but to all those who would “stare and gloat over me.” He was laid bare in His suffering for all to see. All this was so that Jesus could serve as our substitute, and die in our place, so that we might be saved. As Charles Spurgeon writes, “the first Adam made us naked; the second Adam became naked that He might clothe our naked souls.”
For the last two days, we have been looking at the physical torture of Christ on the cross. We have used the descriptions in Psalm 22 to paint a picture of the suffering that our Savior endured. Yet, these physical sufferings were nothing compared to the spiritual suffering that He endured on our behalf. We cannot even fathom the depth of God’s wrath on our sin. And Jesus paid it all for us.
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