(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Psalm 40:11-17
Mark this: Psalm 40:12
“…my heart fails within me.”
Yesterday we began a three day tour, attempting to link Christmas & the Cross; events that are a mere 33 years apart in time, but eons apart in most people’s minds. Our guide is none other than King David, the author of these two Psalms, who has already shown us that there was One to be born, who could actually come and carry out the will and covenant of God perfectly.
So here is day two of your helpings. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Christmas Eve.
Yesterday this Psalm made the point of how David certainly knew his share of deliverance from the Lord. Today, the focus seems to be a bit more on the troubles he faced: overtaken by his own sin, surrounded and taunted by his enemies, poor and needy. David certainly faced all kinds of pain and anguish, some caused by others (i.e. King Saul or Joab), some caused by his own sin (the Bathsheba incident or an ungodly census). But like yesterday, David’s ordeals seem to be pointing to something or Someone beyond himself.
That’s exactly where Christmas comes in. Remember our main thesis over these three days: there is no Christmas without the Cross! Yesterday we saw Jesus as the One and Only who could come to do the will of God. Now we see that doing the will of God was much more costly than anyone could ever have imagined.
In today’s reading, David says: “my heart fails within me.”
David’s heart figuratively was broken under the weight and consequences of his own sin. But the Gospels tell us that Jesus Christ was literally crushed under the weight of yours & mine. He actually died of a broken heart.
What on earth do I mean?
Let me take you back to the cross, to John 19. Here we have a thorough account of Jesus’s criminal sentencing, crucifixion, death and burial. Important medical details emerge in verses 31-34. Normally, the cause of death from Roman crucifixion was asphyxiation. The victim could no longer breathe properly and would die. (That is why the victim’s legs were often broken, as they were with the two robbers, to speed up the agonizingly slow suffocation).
But with Jesus, this was not the case. Listen to this outstanding insight given by a medical doctor:
“Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, “And immediately there came out blood and water.” Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium (1).”
David knew much about heartbreak, but he could not possibly have known the full ramifications for the Messiah to come. Yet a full millennium before Christmas, here it is. So as we celebrate the Child that is born, don’t forget the Son who was given. Remember that His heart was literally rent for us. That was the price when “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2).”
(1) The Crucifixion Of Jesus: A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died
By Dr. C. Truman Davis ; March 1965, Arizona Medical Association.
(2) 2 Corinthians 5:21