Skip Heitzig - Cross Culture
Let's turn in our Bibles this morning to Psalm 22. 22nd Psalm. About 18 years ago, I had the privilege of serving at ground zero after the twin towers fell in New York City after September 11th. And one day that I was there, I worked with the Red Cross as a chaplain. We were there to help firefighters, police officers Port Authority, give them counsel, pray with them, help them on the bucket brigade they called it.
And we were there and another chaplain took us to a building that was the customs authority. It had been destroyed by the collapse of the North Tower. And I was met by a firefighter, a New York firefighter, who brought us to the inside of this gutted out building. And he goes, you guys gotta see something. I've got to show you this. So we went in and he showed us this picture of a cross that was in the midst of a pile of rubble. It became known as the cross at ground zero. And so you just got to imagine what this firefighter felt like.
Tears welled up in his eyes once again. And he said, I'm working on this pile. I've been taking body parts out of it. So many of my friends have been killed by this catastrophe. And suddenly, as I'm coming in this building, I turn and I see a cross. And he said, when I saw the cross, I had hope. When I saw the cross, I felt comfort. And I just remember his emotion, and I was captivated by it. And I thought, why does the cross give a firefighter at ground zero hope, comfort? And the only thing I could think of, it's because Jesus understands suffering. And that is what really seized that man at that moment. Jesus understands suffering.
John Stott wrote, "I could never believe in God were it not for the cross. In a world of pain, who could worship a God that is immune to it?" He said, "God stepped into our world of pain and that's the God for me." If you think about it, Christianity really is a cross culture. I don't mean that it crosses cultural barriers and cultural lines. It does that. But more than that, our whole Christian culture, our whole point of contact with God and fellowship with each other is rallied around a crucified and risen Savior. It is a cross culture. It is so central to what we do and who we are that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2, "I am determined not to know anything among you except for Christ and Him crucified." He wrote to the Galatians something very similar, "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Most everybody around the world knows the cross as the universal symbol of Christianity. People wear the cross on their neck. They put a cross up in their home sometimes, or tattoo it on their arm sometimes. People put a cross, institutions on foundation stones. People will in case it in rhinestones. And so many people had them on their tombstones. Cross is a universal symbol saying somebody in that group identifies with Jesus Christ and his cross. And that is because the death of Jesus Christ is not the end of the story. It's the theme of the story. It is the story.
We've been looking at a series called Bloodline, and we noticed that Abraham and Isaac foreshadowed it. The Passover visualized it. The Levitical sacrifices depicted it. The prophets even predicted it, like Isaiah last week, "He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised, or crushed, for our iniquities." By the time we get to the gospel accounts, it's even more striking, because Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John devote between 40%, 20% to 40% of all of their writings to that final few days leading up to the cross. It is all about the cross of Christ.
Now, with that in mind, the very fact that Psalm 22 opens with and closes with two statements that Jesus made on the cross gets our attention. If you had never ever read Psalm 22 before, if you were only familiar with the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, and then you suddenly read Psalm 22, you would stop and go, wait a minute I've read this before. I've seen this somewhere before. It is something Jesus said on the cross. But Psalm 22 is written by David. It has his name at the very top of the psalm. It says it's a psalm of David.
So as we read what David wrote, we wonder when did David ever experienced these things? That's the problem. No scholar has been able to pinpoint any kind of expression or experience that David himself went through. Some people try to say, David wrote this after he was fleeing from Saul, or fleeing from Absalom. There's a whole lot of guesses. But none of them really fit because the description in Psalm 22 is of a man dying. He even says I'm brought to the very threshold of death.
A close look at Psalm 22 reveals that David is writing about an execution. In fact, to be more precise, he is writing about a crucifixion. What's odd about that is Jesus wouldn't be crucified for another 1,000 years, and crucifixion wouldn't even be invented for several hundred more years from David's writing. When David wrote about a crucifixion, the details here, there wasn't even a crucifixion that happened on earth. It wasn't invented till later on by the Persians and the Assyrians, and then given to the Romans.
So we wonder, how could David write like that? And the answer, you don't have to turn to it, but it's found in Acts chapter 2, where Peter says, "David foresaw the sufferings of the Messiah, for David," he says, "was a prophet." This is David writing prophetically, and he's writing of Christ on the cross. So let's look at Psalm 22, not all of it, but several verses here, and let's notice that this cross culture is given to us in three expressions, three experience, three segments. First, the abandonment at the cross. Second, the anguish on the cross. And third, the accomplishment of the cross.
We begin with the abandonment. Verse 1, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and they were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed."
Now, again, let's say you had never read Psalm 22 before. You were only familiar with the gospel accounts. In fact, you had only read Matthew. And suddenly, you read Psalm 22. You get to verse one and you go, wait a minute I've heard that somewhere. Didn't Jesus say those very words on the cross? We know that Jesus gave seven statements on the cross. His fourth statement was "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"
Now, understand something. On the way to Golgotha where Jesus was executed, and while he was there being crucified, for the first three hours of that horrific ordeal, all of the words that Jesus spoke recorded in the scripture are all focused on others, not Himself. He's going through the suffering, but He's focused on others needs at the time.
So he's carrying the cross from Pilate's praetorium He's going toward Golgotha. He notices a group of women who are weeping, Luke 23. He stopped and he says, women, don't weep for Me. But weep for yourselves and your children. That's an others-oriented statement. He's not thinking about Himself. He gets to Golgotha. The Roman soldiers pin him to that cross, bring it upright, and the first words out of Jesus' mouth were a prayer of forgiveness. Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing. Again that's not self-focus, that's others-oriented.
Then, because one of the criminals next to him makes some shallow but significant statement of faith, Jesus turns to him and says, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise." Then eventually he looks down and notices his mother standing at the foot of the cross. And he makes another statement oriented toward her. He sees John, his apostle, his friend. He says, "woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother." In other words, "John, take care of her."
All of the things Jesus said, up to that point, though He was the one going through the suffering and the pain, were pointed toward others until now. Now there's a change. What happened is from 9 o'clock in the morning, when Jesus was placed on the cross, till noon, the sun was shining. But at noon, you know what happened. The Bible says a darkness covered the land. Even secular historians write about a supernatural, kind of a eerie darkness that covered that part of the world.
And then, Jesus, in the darkness, broke that darkness with this plaintive cry, in Aramaic, "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?" Which is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" It's an interesting prayer. Why? Because Jesus, up to this point, in his entire life, had never addressed His Father by these words. He never said, "My God," he called Him, "My Father." "The Father." "Our Father." But now, for the first and only time, that intimacy is not there. It's not, "My Father." It's, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" What is this? It is a cry of broken fellowship. He is feeling what sin does. It separates. He's feeling the separation.
And so he says, "Why are You so far from helping me and the words of My groaning?" This is the groaning, this is the cry, that guttural, horrible feeling of being separated from God. It is not a cry of disbelief. It is simply a cry of disorientation. What I mean is Jesus never experienced this before. He was so close with His Father that He even said, "The Father and I are one." Remember when he stood before Lazarus tomb? He said, roll away the stone. And then He said a prayer out loud so people could hear Him. He said, "Father, I thank You that You hear me, for I know You always hear Me." How different is this cry, "Why are You so far from the words of My groaning?"
He even said to His disciples in the upper room, the night he was betrayed and arrested, he said, "The hour is coming, yes, now has come, that you will be scattered each to his own and will leave Me alone. And yet, I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." But now, it's different. Now, he feels the separation. Why? Because now, he is the sin-bearer. Now, like Isaiah predicted, the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. And that's what it feels like to have all the iniquity of the world laid on somebody who is sinless and perfect. There's separation.
Why was all that necessary? Verse 3 gives us a hint. But You are, what? Holy. You know what that means? It means pure. It means perfect. It means flawless. It means impeccable. You are holy. Now we know the reason for the cross. The reason for the cross that Jesus endured was because of the holy character of God. You see, God is so perfect, now I know we can't imagine that. We can only sort of try to guess what that is like, but we can't come close. But He is so perfect, so impeccable, so flawless, so pure, that He can't just hang out with imperfection.
It's not like you can say, I just decide to go. This is my way to God. I'm going to just rush in and tell God a few things. You might think you are gaining access, but you're really not. God is so flawless, so perfect, He can't mingle with sin and imperfection unless something is done to bring two people together, those two parties together.
One author put it this way, "You don't impress the officials at NASA with a paper airplane. You don't boast about your crayon sketches in the presence of Picasso." Hey, look at this. "You don't claim equality with Einstein just because you can write H2O." And you don't boast about your goodness in the presence of the perfect One."
He is so perfect. And anything we would ever do would never merit that. Let's say, and I'm not saying you do, but let's just pretend that you sing off key. Some of you actually do sing off key. But that's OK. We want you to sing and make a joyful noise. But let's just say that you, as an off key singer, decided, I want to join the worship team. Tamara, how far would they get? Would they get very far? Would you give them a microphone? Would you give somebody has a really bad voice, would you give them the microphone to sing? Probably not. You probably wouldn't do that.
So yeah, I'll just say. If you were going to audition for our worship team, you're probably going to be disappointed. We want you to sing, we just don't want you to do it with a microphone. But let's just say, you don't have a perfect voice, and one of our worship team leaders says, tell you what. Just go out there. Hold the microphone. We'll turn it off. Open your mouth. I'll be backstage. I'll substitute for you. I'll sing note perfect. You might say, well, that sounds kind of fun. On a greater level and more infinite level, Jesus was the perfect One substituting for all of us imperfect ones. We can't hold a note.
Now, the great verse that I mentioned last week, I just want to repeat this week, puts all this in perspective. 2 Corinthians 5:21, you'll remember it. "God made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us." That's what's happening. God is making Jesus the sin bearer. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. So what that means to you and I is that we have, you and I have, an imputed righteousness, not an intrinsic righteousness. One that has been imputed. It's a righteousness given to us, but not earned by us. It's a free gift. That's because of the abandonment at the cross.
Let's probe a little bit deeper. Let's drill down a little more. Let's look at the anguish on the cross. The verses go on to depict a record of human suffering that really can only be fulfilled in one thing. Verse 6, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip", they're lipping off, "They shake the head, saying, 'He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him."
Now, again, if you had never read Psalm 22, you only knew the gospels, you only knew the gospel of Matthew, and you read Psalm 22, you'd stop again and go, I remember that. That's familiar. Isn't that exactly what the chief priests and the elders said when Jesus was hanging on the cross? In fact, I'll read it to you. This is Matthew 27, verse 43, "They looked up and said He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him. For he said, I am the Son of God."
Now, look at verse six. "I am a worm." You're familiar, some of you, at least, with the "I am" statements of Jesus. Remember in the Gospel of John there are several things Jesus said about himself, that we've even done a series on these. "I am the bread of life." "I am the light of the world." "I am the door to the sheep fold." "I am the good shepherd." "I am the Resurrection and the life." "I am the way, the truth, and the life." "I am the true vine." Well, here's one "I am" statement that we forget about, "I am a worm and no man." That's amazing language for the Son of God, don't you think?
Why a worm? Well, a worm, would you not agree, is one of the lowest, lowliest creatures on earth. And didn't Isaiah, chapter 53, say there is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him? And when Jesus was so beaten to a pulp, beaten raw, his beard yanked out, He didn't even look like a human anymore. And he was brought before Pilate and Pilate said, "Behold, the Man." But, "I am a worm and no man."
Now, here's something I think you need to know, at least it'll make it interesting. The Hebrew word for worm here's the Hebrew word "tola." Tola. It appears 42 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, tola. Sometimes the word tola is translated "worm," at other times it is translated "scarlet," like the scarlet thread in the curtains of the Tabernacle. They are tola. Sometimes worm, sometimes scarlet, in that case, scarlet. Or Isaiah chapter 1, verse 18, "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are as tola, scarlet, I'll make them white as snow.
Now, you hear that and you go, I don't get it. What connection does a worm have with scarlet? Well the tola described a worm known as the crimson crocus, or the scarlet worm. And that worm is what, in antiquity, they would extract the crimson dye out of to dye their garments red. It was very expensive, because of the labor intensity of it. And so it was usually reserved for religious items or for royalty.
It was crushed. And when it was crushed, the worm, they would extract the dye and they would dye the garments. Jesus was, then, that scarlet worm, lowly to look upon, crushed on a cross of wood. His blood became the source of life, not to change somebody's clothing for a few months, but to change their souls forever.
I did a little research on this interesting little worm, this crimson crocus, this tola. Let me tell you about its lifecycle. When the mother is ready to give birth to its young, it implants itself on a tree, or a piece of wood. When it gives birth, it actually dies in giving birth.
It gives birth, it brings forth life. But the only way for it to give life is by dying. And so this mother worm dies, and her death, it's almost an explosion of that little carcass. And when she dies and the young are given life, the crimson stain is all over that tree, all over that wood. It's like a smattering of crimson on the tree, staining it red.
What's even more strange is that little stain of crimson on the wood remains on the wood until it is bleached by the sun. And guess how many days it takes to bleach the red to white? Three days. In three days, if you were to walk by again, you would see that one little crimson speck now turned bleach white.
Go down to verse 14. It describes pain and suffering, excruciatingly. "I am poured out like water, all My bones are out of joint." When did that happen to David? "My heart is like wax; it has melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd", a dried, broken piece of pottery, "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."
How could David have known, 1,000 years before, what exactly would take place outside of Jerusalem when it did? Look at some of the details. We'll just notice a few. Verse 14, "I am poured out like water." Those who study crucifixion say that a victim of such a horrible death sweats profusely. There's a profuse perspiration.
And we know that this started, not only for Jesus on the cross, but way before, when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Do you remember what the Bible says? He sweat great drops of what? Blood. You go, blood? How do you sweat blood?
Well, those who know the medical field say that you have little blood vessels, capillaries, around the sweat glands. And in an extreme case of anguish emotion, it is possible for those blood vessels to constrict and then expand to the point of rupture. And thus the capillaries release blood, effuse blood, into the sweat glands, so that the victim sweats great drops of blood. Sometimes soldiers before a battle have been known to have this condition.
So, "I am poured out like water." It says, "All my bones are out of joint." Anybody who has studied crucifixion knows this effect. The body is suspended by four wounds, two in the hands, two in the feet. And the body slumps itself out of joint. A victim of crucifixion uses his muscles as long as he can to kind of hold himself up on those spikes, until finally, the muscles just completely give way and the body goes out of joint. When it does it causes suffocation of the internal organs. And that's how death comes.
The Psalm also says, "My heart is like wax. It has melted within Me." What language. "I am poured out like water. My heart is like wax. It's melted within Me." And he also says, "I can count all my bones." One of the factors of crucifixion by the Romans at the time of Jesus is crucifixion would last for days. A victim would stay alive for two, sometimes three days. Very slow method of execution. But because it was Passover, the soldiers decided let's break the bones of the victims. So they can die quick and get it over with.
When they came to Jesus, they noticed something. He was already dead. So one of the soldiers took a spear and lanced His side, and out came blood and water. Blood and water, doctors tell us, indicates that the pericardium, that sac that holds the heart, was so filled with effused serum, so packed full of water, for lack of a better term, that the heart was crushed by that amount of fluid. And that's why some have said what really killed Jesus was a crushed, or broken heart. And it was proven by the lance going in, and out came blood and water.
Verse 15, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd. My tongue clings to my jaws. You have brought me to the dust of death." What was the fifth statement Jesus made on the cross? Two little words. "I thirst." Intense dehydration. Loss of fluid in the body tissues.
Down to verse 16, "They pierced My hands and My feet. Impressive number of details given in Psalm 22. Down to verse 18, "They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots."
Now, typically in a Roman crucifixion, the soldiers had enough compassion, normally, to give the victim's clothing, and especially the outer cloak, to the family, the mother especially. Jesus' mother was right there. They didn't do that. They were so hard-hearted, the soldiers, the four soldiers who crucified Jesus, that they decided to keep his clothing and cast lots, gamble, for who would get the cloak. Now, why would they do that? Because it was predicted they would do that. They're following the script and they don't even know it.
Ralph Muncaster, who is an atheist, a former atheist, points out 23 prophetic details in Psalm 22 that correspond as being fulfilled in the New Testament. Amazing detail. So that's the abandonment at the cross and the anguish on the cross. The best part is the last part. And that is the accomplishment of the cross. Now, there's a change, I didn't tell you this, but there's a change from verse 22 onward. Psalm 22 can be easily divided into two separate, obvious sections. The first section is all about suffering. The second section is all about praise. The first one is a prayer given by one person. The second is salvation of many people. Very, very different tone in the wording.
And so it would appear after verse 21 that there is a change that has happened, like the crucifixion is over. So look at verse 19. "But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. Save Me from the lion's mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen!" Now, look at this last little sentence. "You have answered me." Really? He answered Him? How?
Well, notice verse 22. "I will declare Your name to My brethren." Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. How are you going to do that if you're dead? If you were just doubt brought to the dust of death and they pierced Your hands and Your feet, how are You now declaring the name of God to Your brethren?
Well, let's go on. "I will declare your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly, I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard.
There's an obvious change, right? Death is over. Weakness has gone. Suffering has past. Sorrow has vanished. Now there's life. Now there's strength. Now there is a declaration. Now there is praise going up. Something, it seems, happened between verse 21 and verse 22. Can you guess what that might be? How about a resurrection? It's not stated, but it is certainly implied by the abrupt change of language.
The first part of the Psalm is all about the suffering One. The second part of the Psalm is all about the salvation of many. And the salvation of many is because of the suffering of One. So what is this all speak of? Well, it speaks of a few things. First of all, it speaks of Resurrection. And it speaks of expansion. Let me explain.
In Hebrews chapter 2, verse 12, the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 22, verse 22. And he says this, "Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family." So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. "For He says, I will declare Your name to My brethren in the midst of the assembly. I will sing praises to You." In that passage, the author calls Jesus, the speaker, and his brethren are all those for whom Jesus died and rose again. This is what the cross accomplished, a family. Making a family.
Now, watch this. This is the most exciting. Watch how this family, this group, expands. So verse 22, "I will declare Your name to My brethren." Verse 23, "You who fear the Lord, praise him all you descendants of Jacob." Who would that be? Israel, the nation of Israel. "Glorify Him and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel." Verse 25, "My praise shall be of You in the great assembly." Go down to verse 27, it's getting bigger. "All the ends of the world", this family's growing, "shall remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nation shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's and He rules over the nations."
Verse 30, "A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation. Verse 31, "They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born that He has done this." Did you know that you're in this psalm? Your part of that last little group, right? You weren't born when this psalm was written. Neither was I. So it just kind of gets bigger and bigger.
First of all, His brethren. He went to His own disciples, his own apostles. 11 of them, Judas had flaked out. He was out of the picture. So Jesus appeared in the upper room to His brethren, He called them. And then the great assembly. And then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. I've always loved the story about the soldier in World War II. A group were fighting on the front lines. One of them was killed, sadly. Two of his buddies decided, we can't leave him here. We have to give him a decent burial.
So they found a church that had a churchyard, a cemetery attached to the church. They went up to the clergyman and they said, can we bury our dead friend in your churchyard? The clergyman said, I'm very sorry. I wish you could. But because he's not of our denomination, we can't allow him to be buried here. He's not a member of this church. He's not part of our denomination. He can't be buried in one of our churchyards. Well, the clergyman, the vicar, could sense the disappointment in those two soldiers. So he said, tell you what. Bury him just outside the fence. You know, it's close enough. But not inside, just outside.
So they did. They dug a hole. They buried him. Got up the next morning, were going to go back to the battle, but they said, let's pay our respects one last time, visit the grave that we dug yesterday. And so they went to the grave, but they couldn't find it. It wasn't there. They searched around the perimeter, couldn't find it. It's like it vanished. So they went to the clergyman and said, look. We just want to visit our buddy's grave one last time, but we can't find it where we buried him. It's not there.
And the clergyman said, well, you know, when I went to bed last night, I couldn't sleep very well. So I got up and I moved the fence to include the body of your friend within the cemetery. That is the heart of the gospel. Jesus has been moving the fence ever since that day. He said to his disciples, begin at Jerusalem with My brethren, the Jewish people. Then take it in to Judea. Let's move the fence a little further. Then let's take it to Samaria. Let's move the fence a little further. Then take it to the ends of the earth, the uttermost parts of the earth. Let's make that fence honking big, so people yet born could be a part of this great gospel.
What that should tell you is that it was God's plan to save you all along. He had you in mind when he writes about a people not yet born. The Bible calls that predestination. Have you ever read that verse in Hebrews? It's sort of an odd verse, if you think about crucifixion. It says this, and you'll know it, "Who," concerning Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame." Do you remember that verse? And have you ever looked at and wondered, for the joy that was set before Him? Who, getting crucified, has any joy?
Jesus had a certain joy that made Him able to endure that horrible, ignominious death. You know that joy was? I'm looking at it. You're His joy. The joy that one day He would move the fence all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and put you in, and you in, and you in. That's the joy that was set before Him. It was His joy to move the fence and include you.
Go down to the last verse. Let's close where it closes. Last verse, verse 31, "They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born", look at the last phrase, "that He has done this." See the word done? It's the word "asa" in Hebrew. A better translation, that he has finished this. Completed this. Ended the task. Completed the task. It's done.
What was the last thing Jesus uttered on the cross? "It is finished." And then, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." It is finished. It's done. It's completed. I've done it. A finished task. One word in Greek, tetelestai. so the psalm begins with, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And it ends with, "It is finished." Done.
There was a man who went to an evangelist and said, what must I do to be saved? And the evangelist, to his surprise, said, it's too late. The man was shocked. He goes, too late? Certainly there's something I can do to be saved. The evangelist said, it's too late. It's already been done for you. You can't do anything. The watchword of the gospel is not do this, do that. It's done. Finished. Completed. Over. You can't add to it. So quit trying to convince God that you're good enough to be saved. He knows you're not. Quit trying to add to what God did for you on the cross.
Now, I know that I'm speaking to some who feel forsaken by God. If you've gone through some experience or set of those experiences, you feel like God is just sort of forgotten you. I just want you to know it's a theological impossibility for God to forsake you. Cannot happen. Can not happen. You might be experiencing the silence of God. David did. Isaiah did. You may be experiencing the discipline of God. Every believer I've ever met does. You may even be experiencing the displeasure of God because of a particular sinful pattern in your life.
But that's different from God forsaking you. The truth of this section shows us Jesus was forsaken so that you never have to be forsaken. Jesus experienced that darkness so that you could have light. Jesus experience death. But in his death, like that crimson crocus, he gave life, gave birth, new birth, new life. There's a hymn I always love to quote this time of the year. It's called How Firm a Foundation. And one of the phrases says, "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake." The reason we can sing that, if you do sing that hymn, and should, is because He was forsaken.
A final little FYI, just got to throw this in. No extra charge. I got this from a listener to our radio program up in Washington state. I didn't know this till he sent this. It says, "When a person dies, there's a medical condition called lividity. Lividity is the pooling of blood, or what appears to look like on the body, a bruising in the lowest part of the body at the time of death." So medical examiners can determine when a person died by the degree of lividity, and how a person died by the position of where that lividity is.
Now what that means here is that when Jesus died on a cross, by reason of the position of his body, he would have displayed lividity in the lowest portion of his body which would be his feet. So if you were there after the cross, after Jesus died, if you were to walk up to the cross, you would notice by looking at Jesus heel that it appeared to be bruised.
Now tie that with the very first study we began Bloodline with, Genesis 3:15, when God said to Satan, in effect, there's somebody going to be born one day who is going to crush your head. And all you'll be able to pull off is you'll bruise his heel. So when you look at that bruised heel, you know there must be a crushed head around here somewhere. Let's pause for prayer.
Our Father, we have been able, week after week, to look and follow the blood line from Genesis, through Exodus, through Isaiah, through Psalm 22, leading all the way up to the cross. All the way up to Good Friday. It's been our privilege to be wowed by the kind of love displayed. Now we really understand what John meant, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life." Thank you, Lord, for all of these truths being woven so intricately for our ability to notice them and walk away with saying amazing, amazing grace. So for us, Lord, it's really not that we're morbidly focusing on a shameful, painful death, as much as what that brought to the world, life, light, joy, peace for all who put their faith and trust in the One who died in our place and then conquered death by resurrection, which we're about to celebrate at the end of this week into next. Lord, I just pray for anybody who might be here who doesn't know Jesus that they would just make a simple decision of I'm going to putting my faith in Him. I want to believe in that kind of a God who suffered for, me not one who's encased, ensconced in some ivory tower up in heaven, but One who came to this earth and tasted misery, tasted pain, suffered Himself. That's a God for me. In Jesus' name, amen.
Let's all stand. We're going to close with a song that we used to sing around here, I think in the '90s. What's those first words again? I'm what? I'm forgiven because He was forsaken. Remember that? I'm forgiven because He was forsaken. Great, great words. But listen, I'm going to give you an opportunity as we sing this final song. I'm not going to ask for raising of hands, closing of the eyes. I'm just going to ask, if you want to be saved, if you want to turn from darkness to light, if you want to know what it's like for God to say, I forgive you. I want you as My own. I want the fence moved so you're included on the inside.
I just want you to get up from where you're standing as we sing this song, find the nearest aisle, and come stand right up here. I'm going to lead you in a prayer, in a moment, to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. Let's just do that. As we sing this final song, if you don't know Jesus, or if you feel the need because you've wandered from Him to come back to Him and get right with Him, as we sing this song, just begin to come and stand right up here. Right up in the front. I'll lead you in a prayer in a moment. Come on.
At each of our services this weekend, we've heard the testimonies of those who got baptized. And there's a theme running through all of their testimonies. And that is a burden getting lifted, feeling lighter, feeling different. And a new way of living, a new heart, a new way of seeing things. And some of you don't know what that feels like. Some of us do. Most of us do. But some don't. So I just remember, when I finally said yes to Him, I immediately thought, why didn't I do this earlier? I don't know. Why didn't you? Why don't you?
This is an opportunity, anybody at all. We'll sing this through one final time. You just get up and come and stand right here. I'll meet you here, at the foot of the cross, so to speak. I'll lead you in a prayer. Make it your own. Receive him by faith. Jesus called people, sometimes publicly. We want to give you that opportunity. We're going to celebrate with you as you come. It's going to feel right. It's going to feel good. It is going to be right.
There's some wise people here, smart people here. I mean, it's really not a hard choice, right? It's like, OK, I'll forgive you of all your sins. I'll let you go to heaven forever. I'll give you peace and meaning. Let me think about it. OK. I'm not asking you to get weird, get goofy, get weirdly religious. Just to come to Christ. Just to say, I need Jesus. Anybody can do that. It's a free gift. Amen, free gift. So I'm going to get right here. Can you just kind of scoot in a little bit here? I'm going to lead you in a prayer. And I'm going to ask you to say these words out loud after me. This is you just talking to God, asking him to take control of your life. Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I'm a sinner, and I know it. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He came from heaven to earth. I believe He died in my place. That he shed His blood for my sin. And that He rose from the grave. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turned to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow Him as my Lord and Master. Help me. It's in Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.