About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

Matthew 27: 46

Reading: Mark 15: 34; Psalm 22

These heartbreaking words are the last that Jesus speaks from the cross. At this point in his crucifixion ordeal Jesus has been increasingly suffering for hours. One wonders how he even found the strength to cry out in a loud voice. 

When Jesus cried out this phrase, it was a reference to Psalm 22. In fact, these words are the exact first words of Psalm 22. Jesus seems to have known that the whole psalm, in some way or other, was about him.

At least three parts of this psalm are found in the story of his death.

Let's have a look at the links between Jesus' ordeal and Psalm 22

Psalm 22: 6-8

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Matthew 27:35-44 and Mark 15:29-32 both say that the people mocking Jesus claimed that if God loved him so much, then God should save him in that moment.

Psalm 22: 12-17

Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.

 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me,

 a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.

This is a deeply intimate, first-person account of the crucifixion - and yet David, author of the psalm, was never crucified! 

Psalm 22: 18

They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

Matthew 27:35 tells us that Jesus’ garments were divided up and the new owners were decided by casting lots. 

But Jesus is not just expressing the unbearableness of his situation by referencing Psalm 22..Psalm 22 goes on to declare dependence upon God and gratitude. 

When Jesus cried out the first verse of this Psalm, he was also calling out his dependence upon God and his gratitude for the benevolence of God (Psalm 22:3-5, 9-11, 19-31). 


Lord, I can see that your whole life, mind, body and soul, was given over to your heavenly Father. Thank you for putting the same heart in me. 

For the family

Continue doing this 15-day devotional study about Easter that is suitable for children.