December 25: The Birth of Jesus

25 Birth of Jesus

The Birth of Jesus

Advent reading for December 25: Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12; Micah 5:2

Luke and Matthew give us the beloved stories of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and the circumstances surrounding it. Luke’s narrative follows the birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah’s prophecy concerning John’s ministry as the Lord’s forerunner (Luke 1:57-80). Luke then focuses on the immediate circumstances of Christ’s birth, the circumcision of the babe (brephos) eight days later, and the prophecies of Simeon and Anna.

Matthew picks up the narrative sometime later when Jesus is no longer called a babe (brephos), but a child (paidion). Matthew begins with the words “Now after Jesus was born…”(Matthew 2:1). He tells of the wise men (“magi”) who came from the east to Jerusalem in search of the one “who has been born king of the Jews” (2:2). He writes of Herod’s rage and the slaughter of all male children in Bethlehem who were two years old and under. He tells how Joseph, following the instructions received from an angel in a dream, escaped to Egypt with Mary and the child. Let’s consider first the birth in Bethlehem.


We might wonder why Mary was in Bethlehem, some 90 miles (145 km) from her hometown of Nazareth, when she gave birth to baby Jesus. This unusual circumstance resulted from a decree by the Roman emperor “Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” for taxes (Luke 2:1). Luke explains,

Luke 2:3–5 (ESV)  —  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Here we learn from a natural and political perspective, why Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem with the important reminder that Joseph “was of the house and lineage of David.” As we have seen, Jesus, adopted by Joseph, was the legitimate heir to the throne of David. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were in Bethlehem because the emperor had issued the decree.


Bethlehem would not have been considered important at the time of Jesus’ birth. Although it was the birthplace of David (1 Samuel 17:12), it was only a village when Jesus was born. 1 

When the wise men from the east asked Herod, King of Judaea, where they could find the child who was “born king of the Jews,” Herod began his own search. “Assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born” (Matthew 2:4). His purpose was not to worship the child as he claimed, but to destroy him.

King Herod inquired of the chief priests and scribes where the Christ was to be born. They knew that 500 years before, God had revealed through the prophet Micah the place of Christ’s birth:

Micah 5:2 (ESV)  —  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. 

Bethlehem was “too little.” “O little town of Bethlehem” had seemed so insignificant. Except God had chosen Bethlehem as the place where his Son would be born. The scribes and chief priests gave their answer to Herod:

Matthew 2:5–6 (ESV)  —  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:  “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Out of Bethlehem would come a ruler in Israel. Micah had said that his “coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” This future ruler would enter into time from eternity: “whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” King Herod proved to be impotent against God’s decree.

When a country sends an ambassador to another country, all the pertinent information identifying the ambassador is sent to the host country well in advance of his arrival so that he will be recognized as the legitimate representative. 


Through the centuries, going back four thousand years, God had spoken in various ways to the fathers through the prophets (Hebrews 1:1). He revealed specific details about the One who would represent and speak for the Father so that we could identify him as the only one having the proper credentials. The Messiah, the Christ, would be of the seed of the woman, a descendant of Abraham, the “star” of Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David, born of the virgin in the village of Bethlehem. He would be the Son of David, the Son of Man, and the Son of God. He would be Immanuel, “God with us.” He would be the righteous Branch, the Suffering Servant, and the resurrected Lord of Glory.

This One born in little Bethlehem will be the ruler who will shepherd God’s people. Let us follow the example of the wise men from the east. Let us worship and adore him (Matthew 2:2, 11).

1 James M. Houston, “Bethlehem,” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 290.

See also:

December 24: The Word Made Flesh

24 The Word Made Flesh

The Word Made Flesh

Advent reading for December 24: John 1:1-14

The Gospel writers anchor the coming of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. Matthew traces Christ’s genealogy forward from the call of Abraham through David (Matthew 1:1). Luke goes further back, tracing Christ’s genealogy backward to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). But John looks beyond Abraham and Adam to a “time” before time.


John’s opening verse reaches back before human history, before the six days of creation, before time itself. John begins his Gospel in eternity past:

John 1:1 (ESV)  —  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Faithful Jews knew that the Scriptures began with the words “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1). Reading John’s Gospel, they would expect the next word to be “God.” “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Instead, in John’s Gospel they read, “In the beginning was the Word.” John goes on to say, “and the Word was God.”

So in the beginning, the Word was. The Word was God. He did not become; he did not come into existence; he already was. He eternally “was” because “the Word was God.”


“In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God.” Yet between those two phrases, John wrote, “and the word was with God.” While affirming the deity of the Word (“the Word was God”), he carefully maintains the Word’s distinct identity by repeating in verse 2, “He was in the beginning with God” (pros ton theon). The Word was in a dynamic face-to-face fellowship with God and yet the Word was God. These two truths John holds in tension: the Word was with God and the Word was God. We must not deny either truth.

Jesus affirms this understanding in his prayer to his Father the night before his crucifixion. He refers the glory he shared with his Father before the world began:

John 17:5 (ESV)  —  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.


Matthew points to the birth of Christ as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise that the child born of the virgin would be called Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). John speaks of the eternal Word who took on himself humanity and became “flesh” that he might dwell among us:

John 1:14 (ESV)  —  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

As we contemplate the meaning of Christmas, we understand that the eternal Word, who was in eternal fellowship with the Father and who came from the Father, took on himself human nature so that through his life and death and resurrection, we too may have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).

December 22: Son of the Most High

22 Son of the Most High

December 22

Son of the Most High

Advent reading: Luke 1:5-38

From the opening chapters of Genesis, the Old Testament looks forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior. The New Testament, from the opening chapters of the Gospels, looks back to demonstrate that the promise has been fulfilled.

Luke begins with the angel Gabriel’s announcement that Zechariah and Elizabeth will have a son, and they shall call his name John. He announces that John will go before the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children… to make ready for the Lord a people prepared”(Luke 1:16-17). These beginning verses of Luke’s Gospel link to the last verses of the Old Testament where the LORD announced, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Six months later in the same chapter of Luke, God sends Gabriel to Nazareth “to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:26). That one sentence points to the fulfillment of God’s promise to David a thousand years before (2 Samuel 7:1-17) and to Isaiah’s prophecy 700 years before that a virgin would conceive (Isaiah 7:14).

The virgin Mary is told that she will conceive and bear a son, and call his name Jesus (Luke 1:31). Gabriel spoke of 

  • His deity: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” the Son of God.
  • His royalty: “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” (1:32).
  • His eternal reign and kingdom: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of this kingdom there will be no end” (1:33).

Mary wonders how this will be since she is a virgin. The angel explains that this will be a creative act of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The result is given: “therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (1:35). That is how the Son of God would come into the world: through the virgin birth.

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” That which seems impossible will happen “for nothing will be impossible with God” (1:37).

Salvation, like the virgin conception and birth, is impossible for man, but the impossible is possible with God. Mary’s response must be our response to the Good News of Jesus Christ: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (1:38). We cannot save ourselves, but we can say,  “Let it be to me according to your word.” “I am yours; save me!” (Psalm 119:94).

December 21: The Lord and His Prophet

The Lord and His Prophet

The Lord and His Prophet

Advent reading for December 21: Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6

Prophets don’t have prophets who announce their coming. We read the calls of certain prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, but nowhere do we read that the prophets had other prophets preparing the way for their coming.

In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, the LORD speaks of two messengers who would come. 

Malachi 3:1 (ESV) — Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

The previous verse (Malachi 2:17) indicates that the LORD is speaking, so the first messenger would prepare the way before the Lord, the messenger of the covenant.

Jesus quotes Malachi to indicate that John the Baptist was the first messenger who prepared the way for Christ, the messenger of the covenant:

Luke 7:26–28 (ESV) — What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John…

“By citing Malachi, Jesus… has shown in what way John the Baptist is greater than a prophet: he is greater in that he alone of all the prophets was the forerunner who prepared the way for Yahweh-Jesus and personally pointed him out.”1

The prophets did not have prophets preparing the way before them. Only the LORD has prophets. Yes, Jesus the LORD had a prophet, John the Baptist, the greatest of all the prophets. John prepared the way for the One who was infinitely greater than himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 307.

December 20: King on a Donkey, Bringing Salvation

King on a donkey

King on a Donkey, Bringing Salvation

Advent reading for December 20: Zechariah 9:9-10; 12:10-13:1

God continues to reveal details about the identity and mission of the Offspring that he promised to Eve (Genesis 3:15). The two themes of the Messiah’s suffering and future reign continue to be developed through the Old Testament. Zechariah, one of the last prophets of the Old Testament, gives us one of the better known verses quoted in the Gospel according to Matthew. On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before his crucifixion, Jesus sent two disciples into the village of Bethphage to bring him a donkey.

Matthew 21:4–5 (ESV) — This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”

Some 500 years before the birth of Jesus, Zechariah had prophecied,

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) — Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

In this prophecy, Zechariah tells us several things about the coming Christ. First Christ the Messiah is our king: “Behold, your king is coming to you.” He is the one who was “born king” though his “kingdom is not of this world” (Matthew 2:2; John 18:36).

Second he is righteous. Time and again the Old Testament calls for the people of God to live righteous lives. The coming Messiah would be known and identified for his perfect righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:4-6; 16:5; 32:1).1

Third, he would bring salvation. He would be called “Jesus” for he would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Fourth, he would show himself to be “humble” or “lowly.”2 Jesus invited us to learn from him, “for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). “He humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8).

Finally, he would come to his people “mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He came not on a war horse, but as the One who would be our peace. “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Zechariah takes us another step in showing how the coming Messiah would bring salvation. The LORD speaks of a time when the house of David will mourn as one mourns for an only child, a firstborn:

Zechariah 12:10 (ESV) —…when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced…

The Jewish scholars did not understand how the LORD could be pierced, but John tells us, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water…these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled…: ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.’”

Zechariah tells us,

Zechariah 13:1 (ESV) — On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Yes, this Word made flesh, this humble King was pierced for our transgressions. His blood was shed that we might be cleansed from our sins and uncleanness.


1 George L. Klein, Zechariah, vol. 21B, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 271.

2  Klein, 273.

December 19: The Son of Man, Human or Divine?

Son of Man

December 19

The Son of Man, Human or Divine?

Advent reading: Daniel 7:9-14

In considering many of the prophecies of the coming of Christ, we have seen recurrent themes of his sufferings (such as Isaiah 53) and his glorious reign (for example Jeremiah 23 and 33). The Apostle Peter wrote of these prophecies which pointed to “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:11).

In the Book of Daniel, we find a most important vision referring to Christ’s favorite title, “The Son of Man.” Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man 82 times in the Gospels. But what does he mean by this title?

It is often assumed that the title Son of God refers to Christ’s deity while the title Son of Man refers to his humanity. In fact, the title Son of Man refers to the incarnation of the One who was made flesh (John 1:14). It refers to Christ’s authority (Mark 2:10-11, 28), his earthly mission (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22), and future reign (Matthew 26:64). It refers to the One who was human and divine, fully God and fully man.

The last time Jesus uses the title “the Son of Man” is when he was brought before the Sanhedrin the night before his crucifixion, the high priest commanded him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Matthew 26:64 (ESV) — Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus explicitly claimed to be the Son of Man who is seated at the right hand of God and will come on the clouds of heaven. In answering the high priest, Jesus quoted from Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man:

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) — “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ, it was revealed to Daniel that one was coming “one like a son of man” who would be “given dominion and glory and a kingdom.” “All peoples, nations, and languages” will serve him. All other kingdoms would pass away, but of his everlasting kingdom “there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:33). 

While we face uncertain days, but Daniel’s vision assures us that we will reign with Christ.

Daniel 7:18 (ESV) — But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

The time will come for us to possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:22).

Daniel 7:27 (ESV) — And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’

We will rule and reign with the Son of Man who is fully human and fully divine.

December 16: The Suffering Servant, Born to Die

Born to Die 001

December 16

The Suffering Servant, Born to Die

Advent reading: Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

Isaiah 53 is one of the most remarkable chapters in the Bible, sometimes called “the forbidden chapter” because it is avoided by Jewish rabbis. Many Jews, reading it for the first time, have come to faith in the Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

This passage has inspired hymns such as “The Healer” (“He was wounded for our transgressions…”) and “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”

If there is any doubt that Isaiah was referring to the coming Messiah, Jesus makes it clear. The night before his crucifixion, quoting from Isaiah 53:12, Jesus himself declares that he was born to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy:

Luke 22:37 (ESV)  —  For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

As we celebrate Christmas, we must not forget that the baby in the manger was born to die. He would be God’s Suffering Servant.

This passage actually begins in chapter 52, verse 13. God calls us to fix our eyes on Jesus: 

Isaiah 52:13 (ESV)  —  Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.


Christ would be “high and lifted up” on the cross, and after the resurrection he would be exalted to the right hand of God (John 12:32-33; Philippians 2:8-11).

Yet on the cross, his appearance would be astonishing:

Isaiah 52:14 (ESV)  —  As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

What is this? A crucified Christ? What a contradiction of terms! How could he be the Christ, the anointed one, and yet be cursed by God for “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23). Surely he is “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).


Yes, it is true. Christ Jesus was smitten by God. “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief” (53:10). 

But why? “He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (53:9). He is “the righteous one, my Servant” (v. 11). Why did God smite his Servant, his Son? Why did the LORD want to crush him? Why did he put him to grief?

The LORD makes it clear that his righteous Servant bore the punishment for our sins. He was numbered with the transgressors; he was numbered with us (v. 12). “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v. 6). He bore the sin of many (v. 12). He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities (v. 5). He was punished for our transgressions (v. 8). His soul was an offering for sin (v. 10). As the Apostle Paul puts it,

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)  —  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


The lamb or goat that is sacrificed as an offering for sin, that victim dies never to live again. But God’s Servant “will see the light of life and be satisfied” (v. 11, NIV). He lives again and is satisfied because “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many.” Through our knowledge of the Suffering Servant who died for our sins, we become part of the portion that is given to him.

Let us contemplate the meaning of Christmas. The baby born in Bethlehem was born to die and live again, that we might know him and through him be justified.

December 11: Jesus, Our Divine King and Great High Priest

Divine King 001

December 11

Jesus, Our Divine King and Great High Priest

Advent reading: Psalm 110  

Psalm 110, the psalm most quoted from in the New Testament, begins with this puzzle: 

“The LORD says to my Lord.” Who is God talking to? Who is “my Lord”? Is God talking to himself?

The Jews all knew that the Messiah was the subject of Psalm 110. But why does David, the author of this psalm, refer to the Messiah (the Christ) as “my Lord”?

Jesus asked the Pharisees a question:

Matthew 22:42–44 (ESV)  — … “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.”  

Everyone knew that the Messiah would be “the Son of David,” meaning a descendant of King David. Just days before asking this question, Jesus had been welcomed into Jerusalem with palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9, 15). 

Jesus asked the Pharisees another question:

He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,  “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’?  

It is not normal to refer to one’s offspring as “my Lord.” Why would David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, call the Messiah — his many times great grandson — “my Lord”? He did so because the Messiah would be more than a descendant of David; he would be the Lord, God incarnate, God in the flesh.

So God is talking to himself! “The LORD says to my Lord.” God the Father says to God the Son, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Here we see the distinction of persons in the Godhead. The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, and they are not the Holy Spirit, but the three persons are the One True God. “Blessed Trinity!”

These conversations, interactions between the persons of the divine Trinity are found before Christ’s coming, during his time on earth, and after his return to the Father’s right hand.

We see the Father speaking to the Son again in verse 4 of this psalm:

Psalm 110:4 (ESV)  —  The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

The LORD (Yahweh) says to the Son, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Amazingly the Son assumes the role of King and High Priest. He is King, Son of David of the tribe of Judah. He will reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). And under the New Covenant, he is our great high priest (Hebrews 7:12-25). 

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)  —  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

As we wait for the return of our soon coming King, he serves us now as our Great High Priest, the only mediator between God and men.

December 10: The Royal Son, Deliverer of the Afflicted

Royal Son 001

December 10

The Royal Son, Deliverer of the Afflicted

Advent reading: Psalm 72  

The Old Testament prophecies clearly looked forward to the coming of a Ruler who would not disappoint as had the kings of Israel and Judah.

Israel’s second king, David, prays for his son Solomon who would reign in his place, but much of what he says applies to David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.⁠1

Christ’s future reign will be based on righteousness:

Psalm 72:2 (ESV)  —  May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!

He is a deliverer who will defend the poor and needy:

Psalm 72:4 (ESV)  —  May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

Psalm 72:12–14 (ESV)  —  For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.  From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

When we come to verse 5, we realize that this Psalm cannot be fulfilled by any earthly king. This future King’s reign will not be terminated by death for he will reign eternally:

Psalm 72:5 (ESV)  —  May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!

Psalm 72:17 (ESV)  —  May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!

His rule is not limited to the geographic territory of Israel for he will have dominion to the ends of the earth:

Psalm 72:8 (ESV)  —  May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!

He is not just a king; he is the King of kings:

Psalm 72:11 (ESV)  — May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!

As God had promised Abraham, through his Offspring, all the nations of the earth would be blessed:

May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!

Christ is the righteous King, the compassionate King, the eternal King, the universal King, the King of kings, the blessed King!

We await the second coming of this One who was “born king” (Matthew 2:2). “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).


1 “This Psalm was penned by a king for a king and concerns the King of kings.” Erling C. Olsen, Meditations in the Book of Psalms, 1967, p. 523.

December 9: The One Forsaken by God

Forsaken 001

December 9

The One Forsaken by God

Advent reading: Psalm 22

The Hebrew Scriptures had anticipated that the promised Offspring, the Messiah, would die as God’s Suffering Servant.

A thousand years before Christ’s coming, David wrote in amazing detail what would take place as sinful men nailed David’s greater Son to a cross:

Psalm 22:16 (ESV)  — they have pierced my hands and feet—

The chief priests, scribes, and elders would surround him, cruelly mocking him (Matthew 27:41-43):

Psalm 22:16 (ESV) — For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me…

Psalm 22:7–8 (ESV)  —  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!”

The soldiers would cast lots for his clothing (John 19:23-24; Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:34):

Psalm 22:18 (ESV)  —  they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

Where was God? 

This Psalm begins with the cry of abandon: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” words that Jesus uttered from the cross as darkness covered the land (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:34). 

How could it be that the Son of God would be forsaken by God?

In that dark God-forsaken moment, God was there, for the Apostle Paul explains, 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)  —  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Bearing my sins and yours, the virgin born Son, Immanuel — “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) — was momentarily forsaken by God, so that for all eternity we would not have to be.⁠1

In our darkest moments, Immanuel is with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).



1 D. A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010, p. 36.