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A View from the Cross

March 23, 2022

-Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from "The Cross Through Jesus' Eyes"

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Remember when Jesus cried this from His cross? Did you know He was quoting Psalm 22? Follow along with Dr. McGee as we see the events of the cross from Jesus’ perspective … and the ancient Psalms.

Some passages of Scripture are so remarkable I don’t feel adequate to deal with them; this is one such passage. Psalm 22 is called the “Psalm of the Cross,” because it describes more accurately and minutely the crucifixion of Christ than does any other portion of the Word of God. When we come to Psalm 22, we should take off our spiritual shoes because we’re standing on holy ground.

All of the messianic psalms are pictures of Christ. Psalm 22 is like an x-ray penetrating Jesus’ thoughts. We see the anguish of His passion, His soul laid bare. The Gospels record the historical fact of His death and some of the events which attended His crucifixion, but only in Psalm 22 are His thoughts revealed. Many scholars believe the Lord Jesus actually quoted the entire psalm while on the cross. I concur, because the seven last sayings given in the Gospels either appear in this psalm or the psychological background for them is here.

Instead of standing beneath the cross and passively listening to Him utter these seven last sayings, we are going to get up on the cross with Him and view the crucifixion of Christ from a new position—from the cross itself. We will look with Him on those beneath His cross and see what went on in His heart and in His mind as He hung there. We will examine what occurred in His soul as He became the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Because as He was suspended there between heaven and earth, He became the ladder let down from heaven to this earth so we might have a way to God.

Father, Forgive Them (Luke 23:34)

Jesus’ suffering on the cross was intensified by that brutal mob of hardened spectators beneath Him. Look now through His eyes and see what He saw.

All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” -Psalm 22:7, 8

Some criminals have been so detested that they’ve been taken from jail and lynched by a mob. But while the impromptu execution takes place, most of the mob disperses, as tempers cooled and emotions were assuaged. But not this crowd! I think the lowest thing ever said about religion was said of these Pharisees when the Lord Jesus Christ was dying: “Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there” (Matthew 27:36).

Here is where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” If He had not said that, this crowd would have committed the unpardonable sin. But they did not—He asked forgiveness for their sin. We know that the centurion in charge of the execution was saved, along with a whole company of Pharisees—including Saul of Tarsus, who probably was in that very crowd.

Woman, Behold Your Son! (John 19:26)

As Jesus looks over the crowd, He sees eyes of hate and antagonism, but He also sees eyes of love. He sees His mother with John down there. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother,” according to John’s record. As Jesus looks at her, do you want to know what went on in His heart? He went back to Bethlehem at the time He was born. He says to the Father,

But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God. -Psalm 22:9, 10

To His mother He says, “Woman, behold your son!” At the wedding at Cana, she had asked Him to do something to show He was the Messiah, that she was right when she said He was virgin born. His answer to her at that time was, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). But there hanging on the cross, He says, “Woman, behold your son!” His hour has come. The reason for His coming into the world is now being accomplished. This is the most important hour in the history of the world.

I Thirst! (John 19:28)

As He is hanging there ready to expire, with excessive perspiration pouring from Him, He suffers the agony of thirst.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue clings to My jaws; you have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet. I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. -Psalm 22:15-18

He was crucified naked. It is difficult for us, in this age of nudity and pornography, to comprehend the great humiliation He suffered by hanging nude on the cross. They had taken His garments and gambled for ownership. My friend, He went through it all, crucified naked, that you might be clothed with the righteousness of Christ and stand before God throughout the endless ages of eternity.

Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit (Luke 23:46)

To me, this is remarkable indeed, because the cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified was not the shaped cross we see today. We think of a cross made of an upright post with a crosspiece. Nowhere does Scripture so describe it.

The Greek word is xulon, which is translated by the English word “cross” or “tree”  and simply means a piece of wood. This word xulon is mentioned in Revelation 22 as the tree of life. I believe the tree on which Jesus died will be there, alive, throughout the endless ages of eternity, to let you and me know what it cost to redeem us.

We’ve witnessed the sufferings of Christ, and now a radical shift turns our focus to the glory that should follow:

I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. -Psalm 22:22

I believe Jesus spoke this entire psalm while He was on the cross. He did not die defeated, for when He reached the very end, He said this is the gospel that will be witnessed to. “I will declare Your name to My brethren.” And I see Peter in the midst of the Sanhedrin saying to them, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Download "The Cross Through Jesus' Eyes" for free.

My Turn

What did Jesus say as He was dying?

1. Read Psalm 22 beside Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 19.

2. In your Bible, circle Jesus’ seven final statements.

#1 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” -Luke 23:34
#2 “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” -Luke 23:43
#3 “Woman, behold your son!” -John 19:26
#4  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” -Matthew 27:46
#5 “I thirst!” -John 19:28
#6 “It is finished!” -John 19:30
#7 “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” -Luke 23:46

3. Now read Hebrews 12:2 for a glimpse at the bigger picture. Write a prayer of thanks to Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross for you.