Whenever I’m in pain the person I’m usually thinking the most about is me- the person in pain. This will obviously vary from pain to pain, and situation to situation but, for the most part, I believe it to be true. Furthermore, I’d say the greater the pain I’m in, the greater the focus on me. There have been times when I have been in such great agony that my thoughts shifted from seemingly never-ending pain to God. Overall though, I think most of us are thinking about our pain when we’re in pain. The last thing I’d think to do, while in pain, is teach. However, that’s what Jesus did when He was dying on the cross.

Over the years, I’ve heard a few different theories about Jesus’ last words on the cross.

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Mark 15:34 (NIV)

The King James, English Revised Version, and most other Bible translations that use “thou” instead of “you” aren’t likely to have a footnote telling you this is from Psalm 22:1.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

Psalm 22:1 (NIV)

Some people have read Jesus’ last words and thought He was saying He felt abandoned by God. Indeed, some used Jesus’ last words for harm, while others have tried to use them to encourage. All in the vein of the notion that Jesus felt abandoned. However, we must remember, as we consider His last words, the context and the character of the One who spoke them, in addition to the root of where they came from.

I think one of the best ways to understand Jesus’ last words is by reading Psalm 22 and thinking about what He said. After we’ve taken a look at Psalm 22, we’ll see how Jesus, with those last words, was not only teaching us but speaking words of life and encouragement to all who would receive them.

The first element of Psalm 22 we have to recognize is that it’s a lament. Here’s a decent explanation of what a lament is in the Bible. In short, lamentation is a form of praise to God that has four basic elements.

  1. It’s always to God – There’s no one better to help us in our pain and suffering than God. Therefore, when we lament we turn to Him. No one else is going to understand our situation better than God.
  2. There’s a complaint about something – Most Christians say we shouldn’t complain. Why complain when we have Jesus, right? However, when we ignore our pain and our emotions we’re being dishonest with ourselves. It’s like being sick and saying you’re not sick. If you’re sick, you’re sick. It doesn’t mean you’re not hopeful that you’re going to get better, and it doesn’t mean you don’t have faith.
  3. It’s asking God to do something – We’re turning to the Lord with an issue and we want Him to deliver us from it.
  4. They express trust in God – When we go to God with the issue we’re telling Him we trust He will be able to take care of it. More importantly, we’re telling Him we trust what He is doing since we know nothing happens without His permission.

Although the first two lines of Psalm 22 are a complaint, the next three lines contrast the complaint with the Truth.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you, they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22 3-5 (NIV)

This Truth can be summed up like this: I trust you because you’ve done it before, so you can do it again.

As we move further into the Psalm, we can see that this Psalm appears to be talking about Jesus.

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.”

Psalm 22:6-8 (NIV)

The same people who were celebrating His coming into Jerusalem, just days earlier, with cries of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” have now called for his death and crucifixion (Mark 11:9, 15:13). Furthermore, He’s mocked by the soldiers and priests as well as being insulted by all of them, including those crucified next to Him (Mark 15:20, 27, 32).

“come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way, the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!

Mark 15:30-31 (NIV)

We see more faith, trust, and hope in God expressed in the next three lines of Psalm 22.

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Psalm 22:9-11 (NIV)

There are other connections between this Psalm and what happened to Jesus. “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment” is exactly what the soldiers did, “Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get” (Psalm 22:18, Mark 15:24 NIV). From here on, the Psalm praises God and focuses on the victory on the cross (Psalm 22:22-30).

As I read through Psalm 22 and connect it with Jesus, and His crucifixion, I am filled with hope and encouragement. I see God’s plan unfolded and the victory over sin and death. I remember the Lord’s final words in John, echoing the finale of Psalm 22.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30 (NIV)

They will come and declare His righteousness To a people yet to be born—that He has done it [and that it is finished].

Psalm 22:31 (AMP)

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.