This morning in my devotional time, I read Psalm 22. Not your traditional Christmas reading. In fact, it seems much more suited to Good Friday.
In this psalm, David laments the suffering he is experiencing and cries out for God to hear and help him. The opening words of the Psalm set the tone: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1).
Jesus takes these words as his own when dying on the cross: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Psalm 22 foreshadows what Jesus would experience on the cross. Listen to these lines from the psalm:
“All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him for he delights in him” (7-8; compare Matt. 27:39-44).
“I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint” (14).
“they have pierced my hands and feet” (16).
“they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (18; Matt. 27:35).
So why read this psalm at Christmas time?
Precisely because you cannot understand Christmas without understanding Good Friday. Christmas is filled with glory, but it’s also shadowed by the cross. Jesus was born to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). That’s why John the Baptist could cry out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Several years ago, Andrew Peterson released a Christmas CD entitled, Behold the Lamb of God. It puts Christmas in its larger context. One of my favourite songs on the CD is the one below. It reminds me why Jesus was born in Bethlehem: “to save his people from their sin” (Matt. 1:21)