Theme: “You Shall Be My Witnesses”
In this week’s lessons we learn how the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ described in the first part of Psalm 22 turn into a statement of great victory.
Scripture: Psalm 22:22-31
But if Jesus has done what is needed for our salvation, and that our good works do not in any way contribute to it, someone might ask, “What, then, is left for us to do?” Nothing, except to believe in God’s word and trust Jesus. Jesus himself said this. When some of the Galileans asked him on the occasion of his multiplication of the loaves and fish, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28, 29).
Arthur W. Pink tells a story that is helpful at this point. A Christian farmer was concerned about an unsaved neighbor who was a carpenter. The farmer had been trying to explain the gospel to his friend, particularly that the death of Jesus had accomplished everything that was needed. But the carpenter kept insisting that he had to do something for himself.
“Jesus did it all,” said the farmer.
“No, I must have to do something,” said the carpenter.
One day the farmer asked his friend to make a gate for him, and when it was finished he came for it and carried it away in his wagon. He hung it on a fence in his field and then arranged for the carpenter to stop by and see that it was hung properly. The carpenter came at the time arranged. But when he arrived he was surprised to see the farmer standing by with a sharp axe in his hand. “What is that for?” he asked.
“I’m going to add a few cuts to your work,” was the answer.
“But there’s no need to do that,” the carpenter protested. “The gate is perfect as it is. There is no need to do anything to it.”
Nevertheless, the farmer took the axe and began to strike the gate with it. He kept at it until within a very short time the gate was ruined. “Look what you’ve done,” said the carpenter. “You’ve ruined my work.”
“Yes,” said his friend. “And that is exactly what you are trying to do. You are trying to ruin the work of Christ by your own miserable additions to it.”
According to Pink, God used this lesson to show the carpenter his mistake, and he was led to trust Christ who had died for him.4
The final section of Psalm 22 describes the attitudes of those who enter into this salvation. It is for all types of people, Jew and Gentile, near and far, rich and poor, living and yet to be born. But it is nevertheless also only for those who humble themselves and trust Jesus. The psalm shows that it is for those who “fear [that is, reverence] the LORD” (vv. 23, 25), “seek the LORD” (v. 26), “remember and turn to the LORD” (v. 27) and “bow down (or kneel) before him” (vv. 27, 29). The problem is not the sufficiency of the atonement. Christ’s work is utterly sufficient. The problem is our own stiff necks and hard hearts.
But there is this element too: those who believe will also be witnesses. At the start of this section Jesus said that he would declare the name of God to his brothers. But here, as the psalm closes, it is the future generations who have come to Christ who have become his witnesses: “They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn.” That is our task. We are to trust and tell others until Jesus comes again.
What does it really mean to believe and trust in Jesus?
What is our task according to verse 31?
Application: Who has God placed in your life who needs to hear about the message of salvation—perhaps even more than once? How will you strive to be the witness this psalm talks about?
For Further Study: Order your copy today of James Boice’s three-volume set on the Psalms for 25% off the regular price.
4Arthur W. Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), pp. 119, 120. The discussion of the full sufficiency of Christ’s atonement is borrowed in part from James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary, vol. 5, John 18:1-21:25 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), pp. 240-242.