While David wrote Psalm 22 about 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified, it sure seemed as though he was there. “My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me.” Judas directed possibly hundreds, maybe even a thousand Roman soldiers to Jesus and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was betrayed. Not only were the Roman soldiers there to arrest him, but some Jewish officials, chief priests, and Pharisees went along carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons. These Jewish officials had conspired to kill Jesus before. They reasoned that “If we let him go on like this (performing many signs including raising Lazarus from the dead), everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation” (John 11:48). The high priest, Caiaphas, even prophesied the importance of Jesus’ death (albeit for selfish reasons and without comprehending exactly how true those words were). John records him as saying, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). The Jews were ganging up on Jesus at this point and continued to plot his arrest and death until it was accomplished. They didn’t want to lose control of the people, the temple, or the nation. Their hearts were hardened to the truth that Jesus was the one that they had been waiting for.
Psalm 22 continues, “They have pierced my hands and feet.” This description causes the reader to immediately think of the crucifixion and how Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to the cross. “I can count all my bones.” Not being much of a science geek, I had to look up how many bones are in a human. The answer is 206. Unlike the other criminals who were crucified on each side of Jesus, Jesus’ bones in his legs were not broken to speed up his demise. Jesus gave up his spirit willingly for you and me. “My enemies stare at me and gloat.” Matthew says, “The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery” (27:29). In the Gospel of Mark, the people yelled “Ha! Look at you now! You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” (15:29).
These verses in Psalm 22 conclude with “They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.” In John 19, “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said, ‘Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.’” These soldiers who didn’t even know about Jesus or his message were used to fulfill this Scripture. Luke 23 describes this fulfillment of Scripture also, “And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” I’m pretty sure my clothes are not worth gambling for because I don’t have any designer items, but in Jesus’ time, a garment that was woven in one piece was valuable. Every piece of clothing we wear tends to make a statement about us. My jeans and t-shirt usually say I’m casual and comfortable. A wedding dress, on the other hand, makes the statement that this woman is making a commitment and is celebrating a new life built together with her husband. Jesus’ seamless garment gives us another glimpse at Jesus’ perfect, sinless life. A garment like this that was made with such special care was worth not tearing apart. It was worth taking a risk and rolling the dice to gain possession of this unique piece of fabric. His other garments, which may have been his sandals, belt, and headpiece, were worth something to the soldiers also. They were a perk of the job that the Roman soldiers had to do. As we see how these verses from Psalm 22 are fulfilled during Jesus’ crucifixion, we are reminded that God’s plan all along was to send his son to suffer and die so that we could be in a relationship with him. He did this so that you would remember “you matter” to him. But it didn’t end with the crucifixion; Jesus rose from the dead!
16My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.
17I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice for my clothing.
What emotions do you think Jesus felt, knowing that he would have to suffer all these things from Psalm 22? What emotions do you feel when you think about Jesus’ sufferings? Have you suffered in similar ways? Have you been surrounded by enemies? Have they stared at you and mocked you?
Jesus, thank you for suffering at the hands of your enemies. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please help me to remember that you did this so that I could be in a relationship with you. Help me to come to you daily in prayer and Bible study so I can grow closer to you. Thank you for telling me “you matter.” Amen.
This post was written by Stephanie Coil. Stephanie has been happily married for 25 years. With two kids in college, she spends her time teaching piano, working at the library, reading, and crafting. She’s been a member of CedarCreek since 1999 and has been on the LivingItOut writing team for as long as she can remember!
Did you enjoy today’s post? Consider sharing it on your social media pages so others can read it!