What Jesus Was Thinking on the Cross?

Meditations on 
Matthew 18  and  Psalm 22  

Jesus on the CrossRead the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Let it sink into your soul. If the body of Christ would master just this one parable, the whole life of the church, our families, our relationships with others would be radically changed. Pray for that. Start with yourself, but pray it for all the churches of our community.

When I think of Psalm 22, the first thought that comes to my mind is “This is what Jesus was meditating on as He hung on the cross for my sin.” (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34) 

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

Psalm 22:1a

The quoting of the opening line of the Psalm is the signal for us to examine the whole Psalm. Jesus was identifying with all of us who have felt abandoned or forgotten by God.

  • He was taking on our sin (1 Cor. 15:3).
  • He was hanging in our place (1 Peter 2:24).
  • He who knew no sin was becoming sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).
  • He was giving Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4).
  • He was fulfilling and proving the curse of Deuteronomy 21:23 (cf. Galatians 3:13).
  • And He was sustaining His soul by meditating on Psalm 22.

The Psalm moves back and forth between complaint and trust. Verses 1-2, 6-8, and 12-18, are the complaint sections. Verses 3-5, 9-11, and 19-21 are the “trust” verses. David, the original writer of the Psalm, finds his circumstances dire and his faith weak but reminds his heart to continue to trust in a “holy” (vs. 3), caring (vs. 9), and rescuing God (vs. 19).

Verses 22-31, are the announcement that the internal battle between unbelief and faith has been won. They are the triumphant declaration of a man (David) who has seen the worst and knows that God is faithful. 

This is the text that Jesus refers to on the cross as He hung between heaven and earth for our sins. He used David’s words to tell us that He identified with the feeling we often have of being forsaken. And He was pointing the way for us to conquer those feelings and emerge on the other side of the firestorm unscathed.

Lord, help me to remember that “the afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;” and “those who seek You will praise the Lord” (vs 26). Make me a man who tells of your name to my brothers, and who praises you in the congregation for you have not despised or abhorred the heartache of the afflicted. (vss. 22-23). For the glory of Christ, I ask it. Amen.

The Poetry Project Reflection:

[Click on the sound file on the right of the BLOG when reading any of these reflections.]

“To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.”   Psalm 22:5

My Tears are Too Many

My tears are too many.
My anxiety is too high.
My sorrows are too deep.
And my voice is too weak.
My thoughts cascade in floods.
So here I am.
Crying out to You,
rolling my tears and fears 
down furrowed cheeks
and wondering when deliverance will come.
When will my sorrows experience some subtraction,
some diminishment.
When will my prayers be heard?
When will my hopes be realized?
When will my agony end?
When will my affliction be abated?
When will my suffering cease?
When will all my doubts become praise?
When will You hear?

Am I forsaken?
Am I alone?
Am I without an advocate?
Is there no Redeemer who lives?
Oh how I feel like David, lost and abandoned
or like a single mother with no job,
like a sixty year old man fired without cause,
like a cancer diagnosed, family distant, friendless woman without insurance,
like a man betrayed by his closest friends, 
like a father whose children have thrown him aside,
like a woman whose husband has found someone new.
Oh how I feel like a man forsaken, battered and lost.
Tired of hoping.
Exhausted in tears
Stretched to the limit
A life paused, teetering on the dark abyss of an endless fall,
I listen with an open book.
Then David’s words shine a light.
       “To You they cried out and were delivered;”
Is it possible?
Can I cry out too?
Can I be delivered?
Can I be rescued?
Might You, even You, hear my cry?
Might You, see the emptiness and pity my soul?
Might You yet show mercy?
They were delivered when they cried.
Will You deliver me?
       “In You they trusted and were not disappointed.”
Then I will trust You too.
And I will wait on You.

Go to Psalm 23

3 thoughts on “What Jesus Was Thinking on the Cross?

  1. Brought over from Facebook
    Mark Smith
    “Master the parable of the unforgiving servant”, that is a powerful insight and I believe you are correct that it would radically change us. It is difficult to judge someone when we understand the gravity of our own sin and easier to show compassion when we grasp the great compassion of a God that is willing to save sinners. Thank you for challenging our thinking.


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