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  • Pr Herna Kong (ORPC)

The Cross in Psalms 22 and 23

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

God is still on His throne. He is in control. The Presbyterian Church in Singapore was able to hold our English Presbytery Holy Week Convention to meditate on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through a hybrid of both onsite and online meetings from 31 March to 2 April. The onsite meeting was held at Adam Road Presbyterian Church.

Over the 3 days, 570 people turned up for the onsite meetings while 9 800 tuned in virtually. A new touch was given to this year’s Convention with the introduction of a Q&A Session after each sermon on Wednesday and Thursday night. This gave the speaker an opportunity to further engage his listeners in the text. For those questions which he did not have the time to address, Bishop Wong also gave written responses which have been posted on the Convention website.

Pr Gerard Su pre-recorded a children’s programme for the Good Friday service where he taught the children some interesting origami where just by one tear, they can share the Gospel using a cross, and assembled words like ‘love’, ‘life’ and ‘hell’.

Hope Presbyterian Church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, and Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church respectively led us in uplifting worship on each day of the Convention. A virtual choir consisted of members from Bukit Batok Presbyterian Church, Glory Presbyterian Church, Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, and True Way Presbyterian Church – EC sang the song ‘Shepherd me O God’ based on Psalm 23. It was a blessing to have Bishop Dr Gordon Wong as our speaker. On the first and second day of the Convention, Bishop Wong reflected on the cross in Psalm 22 while on the third day, his reflection was based on Psalm 23.

The Gospel message, Jesus on the Cross, is profoundly seen in these two psalms. In Psalm 22, Jesus is seen as a Servant who suffers with us, and in Psalm 23, He is seen as the Good Shepherd who saves us.

Jesus is God’s Servant who suffers with us (Psalm 22) As Jesus suffered on the cross and was scorned at, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His cry of anguish echoed that of the psalmist in Psalm 22. Since Jesus on the cross is identified with the psalmist, He understands human sufferings, and indeed He suffers with us. There are three things that warrant our attention. From verses 1 to 22, we can see that: - Trusting God does not guarantee that we will be spared from sufferings. Sufferings afflict everyone, regardless whether we are believers or not. However, the good news for believers is that Jesus empathises with us in our sufferings as he also suffered and was scorned at when He was on the cross. - Trusting in God is an ongoing cry for mercy and help even when no deliverance is in sight.

Besides crying out in anguish on the cross, Jesus also cried out, “Father, into Your hands, I commit my Spirit.” This cry was a strong portrayal of the psalmist’s praise of God in the midst of pain. As can be seen from verses 23 to 31:

- Trusting God is praising Him in the midst of pain or adding praise to pain. Our trust in God does not depend on circumstances. We praise Him in joy or in sorrow, in good times as well as in bad times.

Psalm 22 weaves together anguish pain and adoring praise. Our worship of God, therefore, should reflect our continuous trust in him as we praise Him in the midst of pain and sufferings.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who saves us (Psalm 23) Everybody experiences sufferings. Everyone goes through the darkest valleys in life. When we are going through them, God is there to save us. Perhaps, that is the reason why Psalm 23 comes immediately after Psalm 22. The aguish cry in Psalm 22 is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and the central statement in Psalm 23 is, “You are with me”, which assures us that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has actually not forsaken us even when we are going through the toughest trials and even though we feel forsaken. Jesus on the cross is described as our Good Shepherd who walks alongside us during our most difficult times. He will never leave us to suffer or even die alone in this fallen world.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd who suffers with us and saves us by walking with us through life’s darkest valleys. This is the good news of the cross. This is the Gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria P.S. All the videos can still be viewed on the Convention website.

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