Fri, Apr 10, 1998

Good Friday 1998 - I am a Worm

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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GOOD FRIDAY 1998

I AM A WORM

PSALM 22:6a

 

Psalm 22 is a very interesting Psalm to say the least. You see, if you didn't know better you would place this Psalm's origin after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why do I say that? Because Psalm 22 not only gives us a picture of the cross of Calvary but it gives us a picture from the perspective of Jesus hanging on the cross and looking down at the people who have encircled Him. In fact we have more graphic details of the crucifixion in this Psalm than we do in the Gospel's!

We know that this Psalm, as well as the entire Old Testament was written at the least 250 years before Christ, and this Psalm around 1000 years before Christ. The reason is simple, the Greek Septuagint translation was written around the second century BC. This was a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, and the reason it was done was because most Jews at this period of time could no longer read Hebrew and thus, they could not read their own Scriptures. So it was translated into the common language of the day, Greek.

On this Good Friday 1998 I would like to focus on part of a verse found in Psalm 22, for in that verse it speaks volumes of what Jesus has done for us. So if you would, please turn to Psalm 22 and lets look at the first part of verse 6.

PSALM 22:6a

"But I am a worm, and no man"

If Psalm 22 is a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross of Calvary, which I believe it is, then it is Jesus that is calling Himself a worm, He is seen even lower than a man!

Think about that for a minute. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, is calling Himself a worm! This is the same Jesus who said that "...'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.'" John 6:35. He said "...I am the light of the world." John 9:35. In John 10:9 we read "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." In John 10:11 we read "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." In John 11:25 we read "...'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.'" We read in John 14:6 "...'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" And in John 15:1 Jesus said "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

We see here 7 "I AM" statements made by Jesus concerning Himself in the Gospel of John. And if there is still any doubt to who Jesus is, then John 8:58 should clear that up completely. In that portion of Scripture Jesus says to the religious leaders of His day "...'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.'"

Jesus, in saying that, was linking Himself to the voice that came forth from the burning bush, the voice that spoke to Moses in Exodus chapter 3. Moses, interestingly enough, asks who this voice is, whom should he say sent him? And the Lord spoke to Moses and said "...'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14.

Now we can miss the point that Jesus is making here in John chapter 8, as the Jehovah Witnesses do. But if we look at the text, the religious leaders of His day knew exactly what He was saying, that He is God! That is why they picked up stones to throw at Him. They saw Jesus as just a man, and this man was making Himself out to be God. They did not recognize Jesus as God!

And the "I AM" name speaks of the "becoming one." Jesus will become to us whatever we need. Nathan Stone says this regarding this name: "Naturally the full significance of a name which means the ever-existent one, the eternal, the ever becoming one - that is, the one continually revealing Himself and His ways and purposes could not be understood except after centuries and centuries of unfolding of events and experiences."

You see, they found God to be, as we should, EL-SHADDAI = GOD ALMIGHTY. JEHOVAH-JIREH = GOD MY PROVIDER. JEHOVAH ROPHE = GOD MY HEALER. JEHOVAH-NISSI = GOD MY BANNER. JEHOVAH-M'KADDESH = GOD WHO SANCTIFIES. JEHOVAH-SHALOM = GOD MY PEACE. JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU = GOD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. JEHOVAH-ROHI = GOD MY SHEPHERD. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH = GOD IS THERE.

Do you see how God becomes to you exactly what you need at various times in your life. He is our Almighty God as we go through difficult times. He will provide for us. He is our healer. He is our banner, the one we walk under, align ourselves with. In the midst of storms, He is our peace. When our righteousness is like filthy rags, He becomes our righteousness for us, and-so-on.

The problem that comes up when you read Psalm 22, is the great "I Am", Jesus Christ, calls Himself a worm! The Lord of glory, the creator of heaven and earth not only became lower than the angels, not only lower than man, but became a WORM for us! (Hebrews 2:6-9). A worm is a symbol of weakness, helplessness, it is despised, and looked down upon. Why did Jesus become a worm for us?

I see two reasons that give us a graphic illustration of what this is all about. First of all the Hebrew word for "worm" is TOLAATH or "scarlet worm". It is known as the Coccus ilicis.

This worm was used by the Jews to dye the curtains of the tabernacle scarlet red. Now to do that you would have to crush the worm and as you did this scarlet color would be released, and it was then used to dye these curtains red.

How can that relate to Christ? Simple, before we can be cleansed by the blood of Christ He needed to be crushed for our sin. Thus, as the blood of Christ flows it cleanses us from our sins when it is applied to our lives. It is as Isaiah 1:18 says "'Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the LORD, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.'"

You see, Leviticus 17:11 says "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." This is so important, you see, without the offering of a sacrifice there is no atonement for our sins. And this is not just an Old Testament thought, for in Hebrews 9:22 we read "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission."

Lets take a few minutes this evening and look at several verses that deal with the sacrifice that Jesus made for us:

I PETER 1:18-19

"Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

Peter is telling us that we can't buy our way into heaven, but we were redeemed by "the precious blood of Christ." You see, He was a perfect sacrifice, without inherited sin or acquired sin in His life. Thus, His sacrifice could and did atone for our sins. No other man or creature could completely pay the penalty for our sins, only Jesus could and did!

EPHESIANS 1:7

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."

We are forgiven our sins, redeemed by His blood that has been applied to our life, just as the children of Israel literally placed the blood of the lamb upon their door posts so the angel of death would Passover their home, we too place the blood of Christ upon our life, by faith, believing our sins have been paid in full. His blood had to be shed for atonement to take place.

COLOSSIANS 1:20

"And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."

The only way to have peace with God is through Jesus Christ. It is through His finished work on the cross of Calvary that has reconciled us back to God.

ROMANS 5:9

"Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."

His sacrifice justified us before God and because of that we do not have to fear God's wrath, for that will be poured out on the unjust, those who have rejected the free gift of God, His sacrifice for their sins.

And we can go on-and-on with verses that deal with what God has done for us, but I think you get the picture that Christ's blood needed to be shed for us to be at one with God, to have our sins forgiven, for that was the penalty that needed to be paid for our sins to be forgiven as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered no more. Thus, just as this Tolaath or worm needed to be crushed to release its dye, so too did our Lord need to be crushed to free us from our sin! It is as Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us, "Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised (or crushed) for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Secondly, we see this Tolaath, this worm as a very interesting picture of Christ once again. You see, when this worm was ready to give birth, it would climb up a tree and attach itself to a branch. And as it gave birth it would burst open and die, but in the process it would bring forth life. And as this worm died and fell off the tree, it would leave a scarlet stain on that tree.

I am fascinated that out of all the creatures in the world, Jesus likened Himself to a worm. And as you study this worm, you can understand the reason Jesus called Himself a worm, for He was trying to show us what His work was all about and He did this by likening Himself to a Tolaath!

As Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary He cried out TETELESTAI or "It is finished," literally "Paid in full" and He gave up His spirit. Now because the following day was the Sabbath, a high holy day, the Jews asked Pilate to break the legs of those who hung on the cross that day so their bodies could be removed before the new day began, the high holy day.

Now I hope I don't crush you by this, but Jesus was probably not crucified on a Friday. That has become a tradition for we read that it was the day before the Sabbath and since the Sabbath was on a Saturday, the crucifixion must have taken place on a Friday. Wrong!

Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." I don't care how you try to figure it out, you will never get 3 days and 3 nights counting from Friday to Sunday. So it couldn't be Friday. Then what day was it?

I believe the crucifixion took place on a Wednesday. You see, there were many Sabbaths in the Hebrew calendar besides the 52 weekly Sabbaths of the year, which occurred on Saturday's. The Sabbath by which the feast of Passover and unleavened bread was begun and ended were reckoned as sacred Sabbaths. Leviticus 23:7-8 tell us "'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'"

Now Passover itself always fell on the 14th day of Nisan, (Leviticus 23:5), and thus it would be a different day of the week each successive year. Thus, it seems that Passover began on a Thursday that year, for in John 19:31 we read "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." In knowing that, the crucifixion would seem to have taken place on Wednesday, a day before the high holy day.

Now the body of Jesus was taken from the cross and placed in the tomb just before 6 PM on Wednesday, which would be the beginning of their Thursday, and the body of Jesus remained in the tomb Thursday (night and day), Friday (night and day), and Saturday (night and day). And Jesus rose from the dead just as Sunday was beginning, "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb." (Matthew 28:1), or what we would call Saturday evening, sometime after 6 PM or early Sunday morning. Thus, Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights just as He said in Matthew 12:40.

Now lets back track a little to the time when Jesus just gave up His Spirit and died. The Roman soldiers were coming by and with a big mallet breaking the legs of the 2 thieves who hung on the cross, one on each side of Jesus. In doing this they would no longer be able to raise themselves up to breath and would suffocate and die. Thus, they would be removed from the cross before the Sabbath began.

In John chapter 19, beginning in verse 33, we read what took place next. It says "But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 'Not one of His bones shall be broken.' And again another Scripture says, 'They shall look on Him whom they pierced.'" John 19:33-37.

Jesus was already dead and so instead of breaking His legs they thrust a spear into His side. And John tells us that the negating of the breaking of His legs and the thrusting in of the spear were a fulfillment of a prophecy from Exodus 12:46, which says in speaking of the Passover lamb that "In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones." And in Zechariah 12:10 and 13:6 we read "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn....And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will answer, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'"

What is interesting to me is that it took the death of Christ, where He was pierced and blood and water flowed from His side, for the church, His bride to be born. Where was the bride for Adam taken from? His side! Where was the bride of Christ taken from? His side! In Acts 20:28 we read "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

God has purchased us by His blood! Thus, just as the Tolaath, this worm had to die to bring forth new life, so too did our Lord and Savior have to die to bring forth new life, the new birth in us! It is as Jesus said in John 3:5-7, "Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"

Also, as Jesus was taken from the cross their probably was a stain of blood that was left on that cross from the lashings He had received before they placed Him there. It is a reminder to us that it cost Him His life to give us life. Let us never forget that truth!

Yes, Jesus became a worm for us so that we may live, but He no longer is a worm, but has returned to His position with the Father, back in glory. Paul tells us in Philippians chapter 2, beginning in verse 5 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-11.

Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God because He is God, He did not steal or try to usurp that position from the Father. They are one, and yet He humbled Himself and became a servant, He came to serve man. Think about that, the creator of heaven and earth became a servant! And He was obedient to the Father, completing the work of the cross and to do that He emptied Himself of some of His Godly attributes when He became flesh, and sought His direction from the Father. Don't get me wrong here, He still was 100% God and yet He was 100% man, and I know that is 200%, but that is what the Scriptures teach, and I don't have all the answers to an all-knowing and all-wise God. There are things we must believe by faith, and that is one of them.

Now as Jesus died on the cross and rose on that third day from the grave, He has placed Himself back on His throne, in all His glory and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Let's not forget what He has done for us, for without the shedding of His blood we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins, separated from God. As Peter said in I Peter 3:18, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."

Let me leave you this evening with this true story that points to the necessity of the cross:

CALVARY MUST OCCUR

An English soldier was converted in the trenches during the first World War and wrote home to his mother, "This war had to occur that I might be saved." The mother showed the letter to her minister, remarking that her boy was unduly magnifying the importance of his salvation. The minister agreed with the boy. "Madam," he said, "not only this war, but Calvary, had to occur to save your boy." God used the wrath which raged both at Calvary and through that awful war experience to bring the lad to his Saviour.

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