The Passion of Jesus in Prophecy: Messiah's Emotional Suffering
By Dr. David R. Reagan
How did Jesus feel alone and dying on the cross?
Dr. Reagan: Did you know that one of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible describes the death of Jesus in detail? What makes it particularly remarkable is that it was written more than one thousand years before Jesus was born and more than 700 years before the Romans perfected crucifixion as a method of execution. You can find that prophecy in Psalm 22.
Psalm 22:6-8 — Messiah's Emotional Distress
Nathan Jones: At verse 6 of Psalm 22 the psalmist shifts from the Messiah's spiritual suffering to His physical and emotional distress. "But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people. And all who see me sneer at me; and they separate with their lips, and they wag their heads, saying, 'Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.'"
The Hebrew word translated "worm" in verse 6 is tola, and also the word for crimson or scarlet. In this context it's most likely referring to the bloody red condition of the Messiah after His flogging — when He would have been so mutilated and swollen that He would no longer even resemble a man and would be an object of derision.
Dr. Reagan: So, this passage describes the intense physical suffering of the Messiah combined with the emotional suffering He would experience as onlookers sneered at Him and cried out caustic taunts. We find the fulfillment of this prophecy over in Matthew 27:39-42 where it reads: "And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him [Jesus on the Cross], wagging their heads, and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.' In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him, and saying, 'He saved others; but He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him.'"
Psalm 22:9-10 — Messiah Again Reaffirms the Faith
Nathan Jones: This brings us to verse 9 of Psalm 22. And in this verse and the one following, the psalmist has the Messiah reaffirming His faith in the midst of His intense sufferings. Verse 9 reads, "Yet, You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother's womb."
This reaffirmation of faith is an incredible act of will, and it is an example for all of us, for our tendency is to wallow in self-pity when the going gets tough. David refuses to do this. He takes the opportunity to reaffirm his faith and indicates prophetically that the Messiah will do the same in the midst of His passion.
Dr. Reagan: It reminds me of the Apostle Paul. When he was in prison in Rome awaiting execution, Paul wrote in the Philippian letter in chapter 4 verse 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice!" And Paul was waiting to be executed!
Paul proceeded in Philippians 4:6 to urge his fellow believers to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving," He said, "let your requests be made known to God." He then revealed in verse 13 the secret of his positive attitude in the midst of suffering. He wrote: "I can do all things through Him [through Jesus] who strengthens me."
Nathan Jones: In other words, Paul was saying that we should keep our eyes focused on the Lord rather than our troubles, and as he put it, "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Psalm 22:11 — Messiah's Solitude in Troubles
Dr. Reagan: Now at verse 11, the psalmist returns to the Messiah's emotional suffering. He writes: "Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help."
This is a prophecy concerning the solitude the Messiah would experience in His passion. This verse says He will suffer emotionally from His desertion by all His disciples.
The fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded over in Matthew 26 beginning there with verse 47, "While He [Jesus] was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs. Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, 'Hail, Rabbi!' and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, 'Friend, do what you have come for.' Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. Then all the disciples left Him and fled."
In the next teaching segment on the Passion of Jesus in prophecy, we'll continue our study of Psalm 22, looking at the Messiah's physical suffering.