In Luke 24, Jesus interpreted the Old Testament for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus so they could see where he was in the whole book. In Hebrews, the writer says that God used to speak in all these different ways and at different times but today God speaks in Son.
So, one of the ways God spoke in the Old Testament was Psalms. But, because of the references above as well as many others, I have been reading the psalms as if they were the prayers of Jesus. I have tried to read every psalm as if Jesus was speaking it to God. Certainly, there are a number of psalms that virtually all Christians would agree our messianic. Trying to read all of them as if they were the prayers of Jesus while he walked this earth is hard. But, it has allowed me to see deeper into who Jesus was and what he did.
This morning my reading included Psalm 38 and 41. I think many of us could see Jesus fairly easily in portions of these psalms. For example:
“Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my heart speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear. Like a mute man who does open his mouth.”
The gospels detail all the traps and snares people were laying to trick Jesus, to catch him in a lie, but like a mute man he never defended himself, must notably when he stood accused before Pilate.
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
Judas was one of the twelve, walking with Jesus for three years. At the last supper, Jesus’ last night on earth, Judas ate the bread Jesus gave him. Yet Judas lifted his heel against Jesus, betraying him to the Jewish leaders.
But, then there are portions of these psalms where it gets really difficult, even uncomfortable, to see Jesus as the speaker. That’s because the speaker starts talking about his sin.
“There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.”
“As for me, I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!’”
Now, in both of these psalms and many others, the writer talks about his sin. And, the Bible says very clearly that Jesus never sinned (e.g. Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22).
So, how can we read these psalms as the words of Jesus when he never sinned?
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin…”
1 Peter 2:24 says, “He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body…”
Romans 8:3 says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh…”
Yes, Jesus was without sin. But, God made him to be sin. He bore your sin and mine in his body. So, when I read the passages in the psalms above and others where the writer, who otherwise seems to be Jesus speaking, says “my sin” and “I sinned,” I shouldn’t shy away from seeing those words as the words of Jesus. Because those words show the fullness of what Jesus did for you and for me. He literally became our sin. He literally bore it in his body. He had to, otherwise God would not have been able to condemn sin in the flesh.
Think about that. Really meditate on it.
The perfect son of God, co-equal with God, emptied himself of his deity, and became your sin. He became it. And, not just your sin, but the sins of the whole world. Jesus so identified with you and your sin that he could call it “my sin” and say “I have sinned,” even though he was completely without sin himself.
Then, Jesus took your sin, your rebellion and hatred toward God, to the cross and crucified it in his very own body. He condemned it in his flesh, not yours.
What a God we serve!