Sunday, December 30, 2012
I began 2012 by leading a group of ladies through the books of Luke and Acts. The first lesson covered the angels foretelling of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. I thought the class would be easy, everybody knows these stories. Yet I also thought it would be very difficult, everybody knows these stories and what could I hope to tell them that would be new! I was surprised to find a little something tucked away in the first chapter of Luke and it has served as inspiration for me this entire year. I wrote a blog entry to honor the discovery: “Zacharias and the Blessing”, posted January 11, 2012.
Now as I finish 2012, I am winding up the year leading the ladies through some of the psalms and I’ve come to Psalm 22. It is a prophetic messianic psalm, quoted 7 times in the New Testament, and each time it refers to Jesus. The psalm portrays the agony and triumph of the cross. Again, I find myself thinking this is going to be a very difficult class to lead, everybody already knows about the crucifixion, what could I hope to tell them that would be new. But God has blessed me, and surprised me, again!
Psalm 22:6 reads, “But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.” There are verses in the book of Isaiah which are familiar to most Bible students, they teach us that Jesus became so marred from the beatings of the mob that he no longer looked human (Isaiah 52:14) and that he was indeed despised by the people (Isaiah 53:3). But this sixth line of Psalm 22 goes much deeper than that.
The Hebrew word used here for “worm” is speaking of a particular worm, a scarlet worm. Throughout the Old Testament times, this tiny animal was gathered and boiled in pots to die materials used for expensive scarlet clothing. The Hebrew word can be used to speak of the worm, the dye, or the resulting dyed material. Though the scarlet sin-color of this worm is worth noting, this psalm goes yet still deeper than that.
The scarlet worm has a rather distinctive life cycle. The adult female wedges herself into the crack of a piece of wood so tightly that she can’t back out. It is then that she lays her eggs. When the larvae emerge, they find sustenance by eating her yet-alive body and so she dies. The larvae have eaten the body and the blood of the one who has died to give them life! Here we have a picture of the redeemed gathering around the Lord’s Table for Communion.
But the picture becomes even more like our Savior in knowing that the scarlet colored bodily fluids pour forth from the mother worm and stains both her progeny and the wood on which she gave her life. Here we see the way our Lord’s blood covers us, redeems us, and makes us uniquely and forever His own possession.
We’re given an application in verse 23 of this same psalm – You who fear the Lord, praise Him, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him. And then in verse 30 we find, “Posterity [a seed] will serve Him.” We are His seed, and we are to spend our lives in His service. As we enter 2013, let us each make those our resolutions for the New Year – to praise, to glorify, to stand in awe, and to serve Him, the One who gave His life for us, whose scarlet blood has stained us and redeemed us.