When noon came, darkness fell on the whole countryside and lasted until midafternoon. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46
Jesus hanging on the cross, is still an observant Jew. He is reciting the 22nd psalm; the Son of David is reciting a Psalm of David as his life slowly slips away. The Psalms were the hymn book and the prayer book at the time of Jesus. And so Jesus is praying to his God the prayers of the persecuted, the one suffering at the hands of others.
At the same time, Jesus continues to teach his children even as he dies on the cross in front of them. In reciting this famous Psalm, Jesus is pointing to himself in the words ascribed to King David.
Verse 6 of Psalm 22 is: “But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men and despised by the people.”
And the gospel narrative tells us that was indeed what was happening on the ground below him.
Verse 7: “All who see me, mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; ‘He committed his cause to the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’”
Verse 14: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.”
His body is stretched, hanging from the Cross, and soon enough, water and blood will flow from his side.
Verse 16: “A company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and my feet.”
Indeed, the Precious Blood drips from the places the Roman soldiers drove spikes through his hands and his feet.
Verse 18: “They divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.”
The verses in the first half of this psalm accurately predict the condition of the Son of Man hanging on the Cross. In the days to come, the disciples of Jesus will understand how the scriptures of their day, what we call the Old Testament, should be read as pointing to him. This psalm of David written centuries before the day of crucifixion only becomes clear after the day of crucifixion.
The tone of the Psalm pivots at verse 22: “I will tell of your name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
Verse 24: “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted.”
Jesus teaches us that suffering for the glory of God has a noble purpose and a heavenly end. This day will be remembered as Good Friday.
Verse 27: “All the ends of the Earth shall remember and turn to the Lord.”
Jesus proclaims the Good News to Jews and Gentiles alike. All the ends of the Earth are offered salvation on this day that is a Good Friday.
Verse 28: “For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.”
Jesus announces his victory over Satan, who discovers on this day, Good Friday, that his rule is merely temporary, and it will end with his destruction.
Verse 30: “Men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it.”
The song that begins with a cry of despair, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” ends in the confident trust the Son has in the Father. For Jesus knew that day would be known as Good Friday to the coming generation, for on the Cross that day he brought deliverance to a people yet unborn.