Summary: Jesus quotes the first line of Ps22 but evokes the enrtire Psalm as an expression of what he’s experiencing at that moment. His experience of abandonment is tempered by his faith in the God who saves.
This page contains the entire service but without the poems by Nell Hodgson for which I do not yet have copyright release or the Audiovisual Meditation (Powerpoint Presentation) which was too large to be included.
Hymn: You laid aside Your majesty (Noel Richards)
Sentence of Scripture: "Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed." (Isa 53:4-5 NRSV)
Heavenly Father, we pray, as we come to worship you
and to meditate on the saving work of your beloved son, Jesus Christ,
that our minds might be lifted above the worries of this world,
to focus on you and you alone;
fill us with your Holy Spirit that we might understand
the height and depth and breadth of Christ’s love for us.
In your name we pray. Amen.
Jesus in Gethsemane
One thing the Bible is realistic about is the cost of discipleship. There’s no false triumphalism in the Bible. The Psalms speak loudly about the questioning of David when things don’t go the way he expected. Ps 22, which we’re going to look at today, is a lament that expresses his fear that God has left him alone. It expresses the difficulty of waiting with patience for God’s promises to be fulfilled. David had been anointed as king but the closest he’d got to the throne had been playing the harp for a king who seemed to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. And out of his despair, or perhaps as a way of dealing with that despair he penned these words, words of both despair and faith, of desperation and of hope, words that are taken up by Jesus as he hangs on the cross nearing death and the agony of separation from God his Father.
Jesus’ suffering begins in fact, not on the cross, but in the garden of Gethsemane. And it’s made greater by the failure of his own disciples to remain awake and praying with him. In the end he has to face this moment alone. He’s even forsaken by his faithful disciples at the last moment.
"Jesus Alone" Nell Hodgson
Not only do his disciples let him down, but later that night, after he’s arrested, Peter, the leading light of the disciples, the one who was first to acknowledge him as Messiah, God’s anointed one, denies even knowing him, not once, but three times, just as Jesus had predicted.
(Mat 26:69-74 NRSV) Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." 70But he denied it before all of them, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." 71When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." 73After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." 74Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not know the man!" At that moment the cock crowed.
"Peter" - Nell Hodgson
Prayer of confession:
Lord Jesus Christ, you lowered yourself even to death that we might be forgiven.
We bring to you now our failings, our disobedience,
our unwillingness to put ourselves out for others,
our desire to rule our own worlds rather than submit to your rule.
Lord, these are the reason you needed to die.
Forgive us, cleanse us and change us.
By your Holy Spirit enable us to live for you.
We ask this in your gracious name. Amen.
Declaration of forgiveness: God desires that none should perish, but that all should turn to Christ and live. In response to his call we acknowledge our sins. God pardons those who humbly repent, and truly believe the Gospel. Therefore we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hymn: At The Cross (Philip Percival and Bryson Smith)
Jesus in despair
Jesus, hanging on the cross, cries out, in agony, the first line of Psalm 22. He knows the rest of the psalm. He knows that just the first line will remind those around him of the rest. So he cries out his agony and desperation at the thought that God would leave him at this moment of suffering.
(Psa 22 NRSV) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.