Jesus, as the predicted Messiah, fills out infinitely and eternally all human suffering in order to eradicate it!

At Christmas time, it is fitting to turn our minds to prophetic truths concerning Jesus the Messiah. The books of the prophets are usually the first to come to mind, and the literal fulfillment of the circumstantial facts they predicted hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ coming is nothing short of miraculous. Another prophetic witness is found in the Messianic Psalms. In total, twenty-five different psalms (one out of six) include at least one Messianic prophecy. Messianic psalms are quoted in eleven New Testament books.

These psalms are prophetic in a special way: in the words and feelings of the Psalmist were found the very words and feelings of the Messiah. (See Hebrews 2:12.) The Psalmist knew that the coming Messiah would “fill out” the emotional and physical suffering he was experiencing by experiencing them in a way he never could. The pain he spoke of figuratively, the Messiah would know literally.

The structure of this Psalm is cyclical in nature. In each section, David describes his own severe suffering using figurative language. Each deliberation on his suffering is responded to by confession in prayer.

David figuratively felt forsaken by God; Jesus literally was forsaken by God. (Psalm 22:1-2)

Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:45 record that, while on the cross, Jesus uses the exact words David had written as the opening of this Psalm. David’s anguish was the result of unanswered prayer. Jesus knew that not as a mere figure of speech but he in fact knew the reality of it! God the Father turned His back on the offense of our sin placed on Jesus.

In response, David confesses God’s character and God’s history of answering prayer (Psalm 22:3-5). David wrestled in prayer to regain assurance. He confessed God’s holiness against the backdrop of His ultimate victory. He recounted God’s faithful answers to prayer as recorded in biblical history.

David figuratively felt less than human; Jesus literally was made to look less than human. (Psalm 22:6-8)

The words of unbelievers at Jesus’ crucifixion are the same as predicted of the coming Messiah (Matthew 27:41-43).

We may feel that others treat us as less than human because of the faith we hold in Jesus Christ. Jesus felt this same way, only infinitely more so! Whereas others do not usually carry through on their threats in our context, Jesus’ deriders did. They physically treated him like a worm and less than human, so much so that he was physically marred beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14).

In response, David rehearses God’s sovereign work in salvation (Psalm 22:9-10). David recognizes that his level of commitment in faith to God’s Word did not originate in himself. It was a supernatural one that he could not deny because it was his identity. God’s supernatural work in his soul would stand the test of time and eternity, not his feelings or suffering.

David figuratively felt like he was going to die; Jesus literally died. (Psalm 22:11-18)

To be human is to face death. What comfort to know that our Savior knows even what that is like and has done something about it! Jesus’ death was an agonizing death by crucifixion. Crucifixion was not practiced in the time of David or for many long centuries afterward. So this is not an account of suffering endured by David himself, let alone by any ancient person, but a prophetic figurative picture of the suffering to be endured by Jesus when he died to pay the penalty for our sins.

Jesus’ body demonstrated the exact conditions at death as predicted of the coming Messiah.

  • Being poured out like water (Psalm 22:14a; John 19:34)
  • Crucifixion (Psalm 22:14b, 16c; Matthew 27:35)
  • Thirsted while dying (Psalm 22:15; 69:21; John 19:28)
  • The soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)

In response to his suffering, David continued to plead earnestly for timely relief (Psalm 22:19-21a).

David was literally delivered just in the nick of time; Jesus was literally delivered in the fullness of time. (Psalm 22:21b-31)

Jesus rose again bodily from the dead with all authority granted to Him in heaven and in earth. Hebrews 5:7 describes Jesus’ death and resurrection as deliverance.

The result of David’s deliverance was calling all his generation to worship the Lord (verses 22-24).

The result of Jesus' resurrection is still unfolding. Jesus will one day make all things right (verses 25-31). The Psalmist saw both of Christ's Advents together as he considered prophetic revelation. Today, we see that half of this psalm has been literally fulfilled. Our confidence is that the rest of the prophecy will be just as literally fulfilled.

  • Jesus will one day satisfy the afflicted.
  • Jesus will enjoy praise from those who seek Him.
  • Jesus will one day turn the hearts of every man and woman living on the earth to Him.
  • Jesus will one day enjoy the worship of the Nations.
  • Jesus will one day possess the kingdom on earth and rule over all the nations.
  • Jesus will give equal access to His presence whether prosperous, impoverished and dying.
  • Jesus will know a long legacy.
  • Jesus will have His righteousness declared to a people who will be born.
  • As he did in his first advent, embodied by his cry on the cross “It is finished,” Jesus will in his second advent “perform it.” As nothing was left to chance in Jesus' first advent, nothing will be left to chance in His second advent! He Himself finishes it, and He Himself will do it!

It is rational to conclude that the historic Jesus of Nazareth is the promised coming Messiah, Savior of the World and coming King! The literal fulfillment of the prophetic word concerning Jesus gives solid ground to the church’s living hope that He will come again.

Application Points

  • Jesus knows how you feel because he has suffered in ways you can only speak of figuratively! Follow David's example of wrestling in prayer to regain assurance by rehearsing God’s holiness against the backdrop of His ultimate victory.
  • Biblical truth is the context in which believers find direction and clarity. Whatever we may feel or think that stands contrary to the truth must be put off!
  • Recount God’s faithful answers to prayer as recorded in biblical history and your own life.
  • Believer, what confessions fill your lips when you feel forsaken by God? Learn to meditate on Jesus’ holy and just character, remember the day He saved you and the sweetness of forgiven sin, and remain steadfast in your petition for deliverance. Remember too that from God’s perspective, resurrection is as much deliverance as physical healing ever could be.
  • Christmas is the season that demonstrates in a very profound way what God’s interests are. He sent Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, to take on human flesh to die in absolute agony for our sin. His deliverance came by bodily resurrection from the dead, so that your soul may find forgiveness and the guiltless peace of mind that follows. In His resurrection, Jesus offers you power over sin. He wants to give you the ability not to sin, to enjoy holiness, to know the qualities of eternal life in this life – a life that grows in clarity and confidence because it is making choices that God the creator of the universe would make. These choices lead to a plain, predictable path of joy in living. Please consider Jesus as the Messiah!
    What was miraculously predicted of the Messiah thousands of years before, the historic Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled them all, down to the very words and feelings, literally. Turn to Him from your sin and self-centered philosophy of life and make him the Lord of your life. Receive freely by faith the forgiveness He secured on the cross. He took God’s wrath which should justly have fallen on you. He is your substitute. He is the true gift of Christmas.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Acts 2:29-30, 1 Peter 1:10-12 – David's prophetic ministry