The Word of God is alive and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword! I am continually amazed by what God shows me in His Word. The other day I was in prayer and reading the Scripture and the Lord opened my eyes to a text I have looked at but never really perceived. Jesus had risen from the grave, and was with His disciples in a closed room. After eating a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb He told the disciples:
Luke 24:44 (KJV) … These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and IN THE PSALMS, concerning me.
The part that I had never seen was “IN THE PSALMS”. I had seen the text where Jesus said “Moses wrote of Me” in John 5:46. As the resurrected Jesus walked the Road to Emmaus with Cleopas and his wife Jesus told them where Moses and all the prophets wrote of Him (Luke 24:27). But here is another verse in Luke 24 that says that not only does the Law and the Prophets speak of Christ, but also the Hebrew Hymnbook called Psalms tells of Jesus. That should be no surprise to any of us. We sing about Jesus, and I know the ancient Hebrews sang of Jesus.
I have a point to this, so bear with me.
In nine other studies we have talked about Jesus and how He prayed. In this study tonight I want to see how Jesus prayed when darkness came. Jesus prayed in the dark twice that I know of. He prayed in Gethsemane just prior to His trial and execution. He took Peter, James and John with Him to the Garden and told them:
Matthew 26:38 (KJV) … My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
This was a dark moment for our Lord. The Cross was just hours away, and Jesus knew what it would cost Him. Jesus wanted His closest friends to pray with Him, but they would not. They slept. Jesus would have to walk this dark road alone.
We have all walked dark roads alone. No companion to help us, no friend to lift up our weary souls. Jesus walked the darkest of roads. He prayed:
Matthew 26:39 (KJV) … O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Jesus was not alone. The Father was with Him, the Spirit at His side. When we feel we are all alone we are not. Our God is with us. He loves us, and has promised to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are never without God. God hears.
But what if God were to walk away?
What if we were genuinely alone?
Though it is not possible, this happened to Jesus.
Not in Gethsemane, but on Golgotha.
Not in the Garden, but atop of Calvary.
Not while kneeling and pleading for strength,
But while hanging helpless upon the Tree.
Let’s read this responsively:
Matthew 27:45-46 (KJV) Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?
Mark 15:33-34 (KJV) And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Luke 23:44-45 (KJV) And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
There was an unnatural darkness on the land from “the sixth hour to the ninth hour”. The commentaries tell me that time was measured from sunrise, so the sixth hour was six hours from sunrise. Most commentaries note that this would be equivalent to our time from noon till 3 in the afternoon. You do not expect absolute darkness from noon till three. It is unnatural. The reason why there was absolute darkness at this odd time is because both Father and Spirit turned away from the Son. He was bearing our sins in His Body on the Tree (1 Peter 2:24). The Lamb of God was paying a debt we could not pay (John 1:29). His Blood was being shed to atone or cover our sins (Hebrews 9:22) “without the shedding of Blood there is no forgiveness of sins”.
As Jesus hung there – abandoned by man and forsaken of God – He began to pray. We only hear the first part of His prayer. Hear it again:
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
We only hear the first part of this prayer … but the whole prayer is recorded. It is found in Psalm 22. As Jesus died on that Cross He prayed the words of Psalm 22. Jesus said that the Psalms speak of Me.
Jesus Prayed Though Utterly Forsaken
Though Psalm 22 is called a “Psalm of David” it is a prophetic Psalm, a prayer recorded and spoken from the Cross. Despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3) Jesus did not curse our God. He prayed. I have heard people say “You should never question God”. Beloved, Jesus questioned His Father. In His agony He cried out:
Psalms 22:1-2 (KJV) … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
Jesus knew the reason that He was on that Cross. The writer of Hebrews declares that we should keep our eyes on Jesus …
Hebrews 12:2 (KJV) … Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus knew why He was suffering and dying. He knew that by His death He was “bringing many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus never lost hope nor faith in His God. But like all humans when we suffer often we cry out in that suffering. We agonize and ask, “Why Me, Lord?” We ask “Why are You so far away from helping Me? Why don’t You hear My cries?” There are times when the darkness comes and we all made of flesh and blood cry. There are times when it seems as if God is a million miles away. He is not, for He is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:9 (KJV) God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Our God is faithful. We all suffer, but none will ever suffer as our Lord Jesus suffered. He suffered. He suffered alone in the Garden of Gethsemane to pay for Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. He suffered alone on the Tree, bearing it’s thorns, to pay for Adam’s bringing of thorns into the world (Genesis 3:18). Jesus shouted the first part of this prayer, and it is only because of His shout that we know of it. But as He cried out, Jesus did not blame the Godhead for His suffering. Jesus prayed:
Psalms 22:3-5 (KJV) But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
Jesus trusted in the faithfulness of God. He trusted in the Witness of Scripture. He said “You O God are HOLY”. He did not assign evil nor faithlessness to what He was going through. Our God is holy – He is righteous and just. Though all about us may seem dark there is no darkness in God.
1 John 1:5 (KJV) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If there is darkness in our lives that darkness is not there because God has forsaken us. The darkness comes sometimes because we have made poor choices. But Jesus was not making a poor choice. He was not on the Cross because of any sin He committed. Judas Iscariot, wicked as he was, said:
Matthew 27:4 (KJV) … I have sinned in that I have betrayed the INNOCENT BLOOD. …
And Pilate His executioner said to the crowd: “Why, what evil has He done?” (Matthew 27:23). Jesus did no evil. He did the right thing, the Godly thing, the beautiful thing, the amazing thing. He died for US. He did not diminish God in His suffering. He remembered the witness of Scripture. He prayed “Our fathers trusted YOU, dear Father, and You delivered them”. Jesus was not delivered because it was necessary. To suffer is sometimes necessary.
Sometimes we suffer for OUR sakes.
Other times we suffer for the SAKE OF OTHERS.
But God is in control.
Psalms 22:6-8 (KJV) But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon – one of my favorite old time Preachers – said of this text:
“This verse is a miracle in language. How could the Lord of glory be brought to such abasement as to be not only lower than the angels, but even lower than men. What a contrast between “I AM” and “I am a worm”! yet such a double nature was found in the person of our Lord Jesus when bleeding upon the tree. He felt himself to be comparable to a helpless, powerless, down trodden worm, passive while crushed, and unnoticed and despised by those who trod upon him. He selects the weakest of creatures, which is all flesh; and becomes, when trodden upon, writhing, quivering flesh, utterly devoid of any might except strength to suffer. This was a true likeness of himself when his body and soul had become a mass of misery — the very essence of agony — in the dying pangs of crucifixion. Man by nature is but a worm; but our Lord puts himself even beneath man, on account of the scorn that was heaped upon him and the weakness which he felt, and therefore he adds, “and no man.” (Treasury of David)
I love to go fishing, and often use two things – worms or crickets – to catch the fish. Jesus called Himself a “Worm”. The devil – that old Lucifer – was just like a dumb fish. Throughout His ministry the devil attacked our Lord through the Scribes, the Sadducees, the Pharisees. Eventually the devil caused the crowd to find Jesus guilty of treason. A devil inspired crowd cried out “Release Barabbas that murderer, but crucify Christ”. Ah, foul devil, you took the Bait. Christ was the worm, the Cross the fishing pole, and you the dumb fish. You thought to destroy the Lord of Glory (James 2:1), but instead destroyed yourself and your followers. You did God’s will old slewfoot! God fooled you!
1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (KJV) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The crowd mocked Christ.
Matthew 27:42-43 (KJV) He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
Rather than respond to their heckling Jesus prayed their words back to the Father.
Psalms 22:8 (KJV) He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Then Jesus trusted the Father. He reminded Himself in this prayer that the Father had been with Him His entire earthly ministry. Jesus prayed:
Psalms 22:9-11 (KJV) But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.  I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.  Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
When we are tested and tried and darkness is all about, let us do as Christ did. Hanging on Calvary, beaten and bleeding, He remembered all the times the Father blessed Him. He remembered His purpose was not to despair, nor to be consumed of the darkness. He was born into this world with a purpose. Even though this seemed darker than the darkest of times, for this was He created.
Dear One, God made you on purpose. He created you for a purpose. An often quoted text is:
Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
God has a purpose for your life. That purpose is not hopelessness, but something greater than you can imagine. Let us look up when tried. If abandoned of all, let us look up and know that God is near. God is always near. God is always in control. This is why we can confidently say:
Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
God did not cause you to be born for no reason. God did not give you life this very day for no reason. God has a reason. The darkness has a reason. Look to Him!
In His Helplessness Jesus Looked Upward
Psalms 22:12-15 (KJV) Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
The “Bulls of Bashan” is a reference to the warring forces of Og, the King of Bashan. His forces looked formidable, and it looked like he would win the day. Instead the Bible tells us in Numbers 21:33-35 and Deuteronomy 3:1-7 that God told Israel:
Numbers 21:34 (KJV) … Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land;…
Though it looked as if evil would win, God said “rely on Me and know that I have defeated them”. Jesus was in a totally helpless place while hanging on that Cross. It looked as if the bulls of Bashan would win. But they cannot. God is in control. God is overseeing the process. Though the enemy is doing it’s best Jesus recognized that what was happening was from God, not from man. He prayed:
THOU (O Lord) hast brought me into the dust of death.
God is the first Cause. We wrestle not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). God is in control. Outwardly what Jesus saw was:
Psalms 22:16-18 (KJV) For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.  I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
As the crowd mocked and the soldiers gambled for Christ clothes – as He hung naked and bleeding –
Luke 23:34 (KJV) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (see also Matthew 27:35).
Though Christ’s body was pinned to a tree, His heart was forcused upward. He did not curse the Father, but prayed for His enemies. He knew that in the end God would win the day. Not the devil, but God. In His darkest moment Jesus keeps on looking upward. He casts Himself upon the Father.
Psalms 22:19-22 (KJV) But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.  Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.  Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns1.  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Jesus looks upward. He cries out for God’s deliverance, and then looks upward fully convinced in the faithfulness of God. He then closes His prayer with:
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
As Jesus ends His prayer He praises God His Father, magnifying His Name.
The Savior’s Advice To The Suffering
Psalms 22:23-24 (KJV) Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
If we are God’s children by faith in Christ, Praise the Lord when we are in the darkness, the valleys of life. Praise Him because He hears the afflicted. God does not hide His face from those He loves. No, He hears our cries. He hears. He heard Jesus on the Cross, and He hears you when you are bearing your Cross. When afflicted, we are to do as Jesus did. Pour your hearts out to Him. Surrender to Him in your suffering.
But PRAISE God and FAITHFULLY DO What He Says
Psalms 22:25-26 (KJV) My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
The Bible promises that if we …
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and HE SHALL LIFT YOU UP.
1Pe 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that HE MAY EXALT YOU IN DUE TIME:
God will not leave us in the Valley. He did not leave Jesus in the Valley, and will not leave us in the Valley. Our God is always in control.
Psalms 22:27-28 (KJV) All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.  For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.
God’s Kingdom shall in time prevail. Our God is faithful.
Psalms 22:29-31 (KJV) All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.  They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
My strength is not in me, but in my Lord. In Him will I trust, both now and into eternity. May God touch your hearts with His Word.
1The King James was first translated in 1611, and revised in 1769. The definition for a “unicorn” is not the fantasy creature of today. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defined “Unicorn” as “An animal with one horn; the monoceros. this name is often applied to the rhinoceros.” When you look up “rhinoceros” in this same dictionary you read: “A genus of quadrupeds of two species, one of which, the unicorn, has a single horn growing almost erect from the nose. This animal when full grown, is said to be 12 feet in length. There is another species with two horns, the bicornis. They are natives of Asia and Africa.” The term “unicorn” does not refer to mythical horselike creature, but to the single horned rhinoceros. Today there are five species of the rhinoceros, three of which have two horns, and two of which have one horn or are “unicorn”. See also Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Job 39:9-10; Psalms 29:6; 92:10; Deuteronomy 33:17; Isaiah 34:7.