Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Jesus Is a Worship Leader

Leslie Basham: Have you ever imagined Jesus leading worship? Nancy Leigh DeMoss finds this image in Psalm 22.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I see Jesus as this great worship leader, with His arms extended, inviting us to join Him in praise that the sacrifice has been paid, the deliverance has been purchased, and there is a people of God being born through faith in Christ’s death.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, April 5. 

Every story needs a turning point. Today, we’ll look at the turning point in Psalm 22. The ideas we’re about to hear will give you hope that your story, no matter how bleak it seems, will have a turning point as well.

Nancy’s in the series, Psalm of the Cross.

Nancy: After we recorded our last program, we took some time with the women in the room to pray and respond to the Lord and just to express to Him our gratitude for what He did for us on the cross as we’re commemorating that this holy week, and as we’ve been studying in Psalm 22 and looking at the horrendous suffering that Christ went through on our behalf.

I was particularly touched by one of the ladies who prayed and expressed what I think is in all of our hearts, and that is, “Lord, if You did this for us, how come we continue to sin? If this was the price that You paid for our sin, why do I keep going back to that sin? Why would I not turn my back on it and put it away once and for all? Why would I toy with it?”

It’s the right question. I think if we lived in a way that was mindful, conscious of what Christ did for us on the cross, the shame that He bore, the wrath of God, the full cup of God’s judgment that He drank to the last drop for our sin, how could we ever take sin lightly? I think one of the problems, for some of us, is that we’ve heard this story so many times; we’re so familiar with it.

I can never remember a time when I did not know the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the dangers when you’ve been around the things of God a long time is that they can become commonplace to you, that the supernatural becomes trivial. Now, it’s not trivial—it never will be. It will always be the wondrous cross, but I think sometimes our eyes just glaze over.

I found myself during this Lenten season trying to prepare my heart for this weekend, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day. I found myself, I will confess, at times just feeling numb to the whole thing and asking the Lord, “Would You give me a fresh sense of the wonder of it all—what You went through and why You did it?”

I’m not where I want to be on that, and the passion in my heart toward Christ, the love for Him, is not nearly what it should be, but I think that one way of stirring that up is to take out passages like Psalm 22, to read them carefully, to read them repeatedly, to read them with meditation and pondering. This is what Jesus did. That’s why we’re taking this week to look at this psalm and to remind ourselves of what Christ went through and why He did it.

Now, we’re finishing up the first half of that psalm. We said the psalm had two halves. The first half is that earnest, anguished cry of the grief of the suffering Savior. As we come to verse 19 today, we still see Christ from the cross in that persistent, earnest prayer, and a series of urgent cries.

He’s talked about strong bulls that surround him and those that open their mouths to him like a ravening and roaring lion. He’s talked about being poured out like water and all the circumstances that he’s going through with this crowd closing in on him and no help to be found.

We come to verse 19, and he just repeats this plea that we saw earlier that all he wants is for God to come and help him and be near him. So he says in verse 19: “You, O Lord, do not be far off!”

We’ve seen this as a theme of this psalm. He started off by saying, “Lord, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far away? No one is near; no one is near to help me.” Again, he says here, “Lord, don’t be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!” (NIV). Some of your translations say, “O you my strength, come quickly to my aid!” (NKJV).

Here is Jesus, as a man, the sin-bearer, the substitutionary Lamb who is helpless and without strength, pleading with God for strength and help. He has no strength of His own. He has no one there to help Him. So He cries out, “O you my help, my strength, come quickly to my aid!”

Again, just a reminder, our suffering will never be anything like His. The worst suffering we can go through is, in comparison with Christ’s suffering, a momentary and light affliction. But we do experience affliction, and at the moment it doesn’t seem momentary and light. In those dark and heavy and depressing and discouraging times, we have a pattern in Christ of what you do. You lift your head up, and you cry out to the only one who can help you, “O you my help and my strength, come quickly to my aid!”

You ask it when you can see the answer, and you ask it when you can’t see the answer. You ask it when He seems near, and you ask it when He seems far. You say, “Oh Lord, come and help me. Be my strength. Be my help in this situation.”

Well, in Psalm 22:20-21, we see this final cry for deliverance from death and enemies as Christ cries out. Verse 20:

Deliver my soul 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! (NKJV

The sword, the dog, the lion’s mouth, the wild oxen—this is all a picture of destruction, of enemies. And Christ realizes that it is Satan and his cohorts who are aligned together trying to destroy the Son of God. Listen, at this point there’s a party going on in Hell because the demons in Hell think that they have captured and finished off the Son of God. They think that they have aborted God’s gracious plan of redemption. “We’ve killed the Son of the vineyard. We’ve killed the Master. We’ve killed the Savior of the world.”

Now, that party is going to come to a screeching halt when the news of the resurrection takes place. But at this moment, they think they have the upper hand. They are the sword, the dog, the lion’s mouth, the wild oxen, and Jesus cries out for deliverance, to be saved. Only God can deliver His Son from Satan and from Hell.

At this point, Jesus is enduring Hell for us. He’s enduring the darts of the evil one. God has given permission to Satan to crucify the Lord of Glory. We need to remember that only Christ, none other than Christ, can ever deliver us from Satan and Hell—not our own good works; not our own efforts; not anyone else; not your pastor, your priest, your friend, your parents. No one but Christ can deliver us from Satan and from Hell.

So Jesus cries out, “Deliver Me. Save Me.” He cries out to the only One who can deliver Him.

Now when we come to verse 21, I’ve used there the New King James Version because this verse is translated in very different ways in different translations, but I think this is the one that captures the meaning the best. He says: “Save Me from the lion’s mouth, and from the horns of the wild oxen!”

Then the last half of verse 21, this is the turning point in this psalm. This is the hinge, the pivot point of this psalm, where He says: “You have answered Me” (NKJV). Or as some translations would put it, “You have heard Me.”

Now, for verse after verse, up until this point, He’s been crying out, “Deliver Me; save Me; rescue Me; come to My aid.” Now there’s a whole different tone. He says, “You have answered Me.”

In the original language, this whole phrase is one single word, and it’s at the end of the sentence. Most of our translations don’t show it that way. I don’t mean to confuse you, but if you look at the New King James Version, you’ll see this really clearly. It’s at the end of the sentence. “You have answered Me." "You have heard Me.”

What this is is a cry of triumph. We’ve heard the anguished plea, the cries and the grief of the suffering Savior, but now He cries out in triumph, believing by faith that His prayer has been heard and at this moment Jesus once again becomes aware of His Father’s presence. He has been forsaken. He’s been in this hideous, horrible darkness, but now darkness breaks out into glorious light. Death gives way to life. It hasn’t happened yet, but with the eye of faith, He sees it. The storm has become a calm. Defeat is turned to triumph as He says, “You have answered Me. You have heard Me.”

It reminds me of Psalm 16 where the psalmist says,

I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. (Ps. 16:8-10)

Beyond the cross there is a resurrection. Sunday is coming. Jesus in these closing moments on the cross expresses that faith, that confidence that God indeed is going to intervene, is going to deliver, that worship will follow, and those who are redeemed as the result of His perfect sacrifice will glorify God.

So this whole second half of the psalm, from this point, the middle of verse 21, “You have heard Me," "You have answered Me,” all the way through the end of the psalm, I think, is what may have been on Jesus’ mind and in His heart in the final moments before He took His last breath as He anticipated by faith the fulfillment of God’s purposes, God’s eternal purposes for Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice. He realized, “My suffering has not been in vain. This is the eternal plan of God put in place from before the foundation of the earth.”

Listen, the cross was not an afterthought that came to God’s mind after Adam and Eve sinned, and God goes, “Oops, what are We going to do now? Oh, let’s come up with a plan.” No, God planned the cross, the death of His Son in eternity past before there even had been sin. In His eternal grace and mercy and justice, He planned a way for sin’s penalty to be paid and for sinners to be justified, declared righteous in God’s sight.

So Jesus in those last moments on the cross realizes, “I’ve paid the price. I’ve gone to Hell. I’ve become sin. I’ve endured sin, and now there’s going to be the victory, there’s going to be the triumph. God has heard. He’s going to answer. He will not abandon My soul to Sheol. He will not let His Holy One see corruption.”

One translator has titled this whole psalm, “The Suffering Servant.” That’s a description of the first half of the psalm. “The Suffering Servant Wins the Deliverance of the Nations”—and that’s a description of the second half of the psalm. The Suffering Servant accomplishes the purpose for which God sent Him to the earth, and that is to win the deliverance of the nations.

You sing that song, He could have called ten thousand angels, to destroy the world and set Him free. Yes, He could have, but He knew if He delivered Himself, then He couldn’t deliver us. So He was willing for His prayer to go unanswered, for God to turn His back on His Son, to forego the deliverance for that moment, to go into Hell, so that by His death and resurrection, we could be delivered. He purchased the deliverance of the nations, and that includes our deliverance.

Now, as you reflect on that whole first half of this psalm, the “Suffering Servant,” and think of His last thoughts on the cross, one of the things that I think is so amazing is that there is no hint of retaliation or vengeance against His enemies. Instead, as we move into this second half of this psalm, He envisions His suffering bearing fruit in a great world-wide expansion of God’s kingdom and a great harvest of souls. That was the point of the cross.

Jesus looks, and He says, “It’s been fulfilled. That expansion of God’s kingdom is going to happen as a result of the fact that I have just endured Hell on behalf of those that I love.” So the second half of this psalm we could call, “The spread of joy; the spread of God’s kingdom.”

It reminds us of that passage in Psalm 30 that says, “Weeping may endure for a night”—that’s the first half of Psalm 22—“but joy comes in the morning”—that’s the second half of Psalm 22. Weeping for a night, but joy in the morning. There is joy for God’s people who have suffered, and there is joy for those who hear the gospel and believe as a result of what Christ has done.

By faith, Jesus anticipates the resurrection. He envisions the spread of the gospel, and this ever-expanding circle of blessing for the whole wide world, this expanding circle of worship and a growing congregation of sons and daughters of God—He died to bring many sons to glory—and this growing congregation. There are three concentric circles that you see of this expanding congregation of believers in the second half of this psalm.

Let me give you the overview, and then we’ll look through it in detail.

First, in verses 22 through 24, He sees the gospel being proclaimed to the Jews, His own brothers. Then verses 25 through 29, He sees the expansion of the gospel proclamation in the kingdom of God to the Gentiles, those who were not the chosen people of God. Then in verses 30 and 31, we see a broader expansion of God’s kingdom and the gospel to future generations, those who were yet unborn.

So it’s the expansion of God’s kingdom and the proclamation of the gospel that we see Jesus envisioning and praising God for here in the last half of this psalm. We’ll look at the first section for the remaining moments we have today, and then tomorrow we’ll look at the remainder of this psalm.

In verses 22 through 24, Jesus speaking, talks about the proclamation of the gospel to His own people, the Jews. He says,

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

Jesus, the Suffering Servant, says, “God has heard when I cried to Him. He has delivered Me. He’s going to deliver My soul from death, and the point of this is that My brothers can hear Me proclaim the gospel. They can repent and believe and be delivered from their sin as a result of the sacrifice that I have just made.”

I love that verse 22 where Jesus says—and still praying—“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” Here we have Jesus, as always, thinking of others—thinking of His Church. In fact, I think this verse is a great description of Jesus as the worship leader in His Church.

“I will praise You in the midst of the congregation. I’m going to lead the congregation in praising You, in worshiping You.” I see Jesus as this great worship leader with His arms extended, inviting us to join Him in praise that the sacrifice has been paid, the deliverance has been purchased. There is a people of God being born through faith in Christ’s death. He invites us to join Him in that praise. He says, “I will tell of Your name.”

We are quick to talk about our sufferings and our sorrows, but sometimes we’re far too slow to talk about His deliverances. We’ve seen Jesus in the first half of this psalm being very descriptive of what was going on with the sorrows and the suffering, but we see Him coming back now and saying, “I will tell of the good things that You have done. I will tell of Your name. I will praise You.”

He does this today in His Church through us as His representatives, as we tell of the name of Christ and the glory of God and the wonders of His gospel, as we praise Him in the midst of His congregation.

In fact, Charles Spurgeon said, and this was a blessing to me, that "those who teach the Word of God are nothing but echoes of His voice"—echoes of the voice of Christ who said, “I will tell of Your name to My brothers.”

That’s all I want to be. I don’t want you listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I want you hearing the voice of Christ, telling the name of God to His brothers and declaring His praise in the midst of the congregation.

Hebrews 2:11, tells us the Messiah "is not ashamed to call us his brothers." Because of what He did on the cross, the only begotten Son of God has made it possible for there to be many sons of God brought to glory. Now, we are not The Son of God, but He has made it possible for us to become sons and daughters of God. He calls us His brothers. He’s not ashamed to say we are part of His family. It never ever could have happened apart from Calvary, apart from the cross.

Be careful when you hear people say or sing this sentimental stuff about all being children of God. We’re not all children of God. We’re born children of the evil one, but through what Christ did on the cross for us, as we repent of our sin and place our faith in Him, we can be born into the family of God.

“To those who believed in Him, He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.” (John 1:12)

And now He stands in our midst, and He welcomes us to a celebration feast. He says, verse 23,

You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!”

Notice the word all there. All who truly belong to Him—starting with the Jews, and then we’ll see with the Gentiles as well—all who truly belong to Him are to join in this choir, this anthem of worship and praise “for God has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,” verse 24.

Jesus knows that God still loves Him, that He is loved of God as are we who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ.

And, the end of verse 24, “He has not hidden his face from him, but has heard when he cried to him.”

Now, we looked at verse 2 a few days ago where He said, “O God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” There was a point at which God hid His face from His Son—forsook His Son—but the separation was only temporary, but long enough for Jesus to endure our Hell, to pay the price for our sin.

Hebrews 5 tells us that “in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears” (v. 7). Isn’t that what we’ve been reading about in Psalm 22? It’s what you read about in the story of Gethsemane. He offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission to God.

Because He said, “Yes Father, not My will, but Yours be done.” Because He was willing to endure the cross, because He was willing to endure that dark night in the middle of the day, the pain, the suffering, the separation from God, the unanswered prayer for that period of time, He was heard because of His reverent submission. God heard those cries. God answered them. God has brought Jesus back to life. Now He reigns and rules as the Savior of the world, the King of the universe, and the one to whom we cry out in our time of trouble. We find Him a merciful gracious High Priest who continues to make intercession for us on the basis of what He did for us all those years ago at Calvary.

Leslie: We’ve been reflecting on the suffering of Jesus as Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been teaching through Psalm 22.

That message is part of the series, Psalm of the Cross. You can find the audio and the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

As we prepare for Easter, we hope you’ll reflect further on the suffering of Christ. The book, Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick will give you a new appreciation of what Jesus did for you on Calvary. Elyse writes in a conversational, real style. You'll relate to the struggles and emotions she describes. Then she shows how the cross of Christ speaks to every part of life.

I hope you’ll read it this year and then pull it back out during the Lenten season year after year to help you focus on Christ and prepare your heart for Resurrection Sunday.

We'd like to send you Comforts from the Cross when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your support will help us stay on the radio in your area. The book is our way of saying “thanks.” Just make your donation of any size at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959. 

"It is finished!" Nancy will help you see that phrase in a new light tomorrow. She’ll continue in the series, Psalm of the Cross, next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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