From the Cross, to the Crown, to the City

Bible Book: Psalms  24
Subject: Resurrection; Rapture; Easter; Cross
Introduction

There is a tremendous triad of Truth laid out for us in Psalm 22, Psalm 23 and Psalm 24. If you please, this could be called a Panoply of Prophecy. Look at Psalm 22:1, Psalm 23:1 and Psalm 24:7-10 and note with me on this Easter Sunday, the Cross, the Crown and the City of our Lord.

We are looking at three Psalms conveniently placed together in the Bible by the wisdom and inspiration of God. Like three beautiful pearls hung on a golden necklace, these Psalms glitter with prophetic veracity and exactness. Written hundreds of years before the fact, these Psalms reveal God as a planner and that He is patient in turning the unstoppable wheels of history toward His purposes. His prophecies contain coming historical reality. Written by men who likely had little idea of all the truth found in them, these prophecies soared high above the intellect of those who held the pen to write them.

Note how Jesus dealt with Old Testament prophecy concerning Himself. When Jesus had risen from the dead, He met two men walking on the road to Emmaus. Recorded in Luke 24:25-27 we read, “Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Then a few verses later we read how those two men felt as Jesus opened the prophecies of the Old Testament and showed them that He was on every page - Luke 24:32, “And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’” (NKJV)

Jesus showed those men that He was the subject of ALL the Scriptures. At that time, right after His resurrection, the only scriptures that existed were the Old Testament scriptures. Surely one place where Jesus might have revealed Himself to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus is found in Psalm 22, 23 and 24. I want us to examine these three Psalms and see how important they are even to this very day. The Bible never grows old. Books are written, become bestsellers and then fade into yellowed pages in some forlorn spot in the back of a dusty library; but the Bible stands forever because it truths are eternal and its Author lives forever.

I. The Suffering Lord – Psalm 22

First, let’s examine a portion of Psalm 22. This Psalm is called the ‘Psalm of the Cross.’ It begins with, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Then, in the last verse of that Psalm, verse 32, we find the Hebrew word ‘asha’ – Finished! The Psalm begins with the first words of Jesus on the Cross and ends with some of the last word of Jesus from the Cross. Coincidence? Not on your life!

Why did Jesus cry out the words of Psalm 22:1 as His first words while hanging on the Cross? Clearly He was pointing back to this Psalm to remind all who would listen that He is the subject of that ancient Psalm. The Psalm David penned, though David could never have understood it, was about the Suffering Lord.

Now listen closely, one can only know God through Christ and you cannot know Christ outside of the Cross. The songwriter penned, “I must needs go home by way of the Cross, there is no other way but this.” Indeed! There is no way to the Father but through Jesus.

Look at John 14:1-6, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."

Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”(NKJV)

So, knowing that this Psalm is directly related to the Cross of our Lord, let’s see how important it really is to us right now. Note that Jesus cried from the Cross, “Why HAVE you forsaken me?” Jesus was feeling the weight of our sin and His distance from the Father because of it. Three great truths emerge from this Psalm that reveal how wonderful is the salvation provided by our Lord for us who believe.

A. God would not Come Near Him (Psalm 22:1)

Jesus asked of the Father, “Why are you so far from helping me?” God would not come near His Son when He was on the cross because Jesus had become sin – He bore our sin and not His own. The innocent Lamb of God knew no sin, committed no sin and was as Pilate had observed, without “fault.”

God is near me now because Jesus was willing to take my iniquities upon Himself. He was separated from God so that I might be accepted by Him. My wicked life does not deserve the embrace of the Holy God and neither does yours. Let us never think of ourselves as deserving of God’s closeness. We did not earn it; we received it as a gift through the sacrifice of our Lord. The heavenly hug of God is only possible because of the battered and bloody Savior who took our sins upon Himself on the Cross at Calvary.

B. God would not Hear Him (Psalm 22:2-3)

In verse 2 we note that Jesus indicated that the Father in Heaven would not “hear” Him. God stopped His ears to the cries of His Son. Today I possess the gift of prayer. I can talk to God anywhere and at any time. I do not speak to God because I merit the privilege. The blessing of prayer – communication with God – comes to me through the shed blood of my dear Lord. Why should God hear me? Because Jesus died for me, saved me, keeps me and intercedes for me in the Heavenly Throne Room. O, what privilege we have in being able to come to God. Jesus accepted the separation from His Father on the cross so that I might never be separated from Him. What a Savior we have!

C. God would not Clear Him (Psalm 22:5-6)

In verse 4 of this Psalm Jesus notes that God forgave the people who cried to Him in the Old Testament days. He stated that the Father had delivered them. But note that God will clear the record of Jesus even as He is dying. And, why not? He will not forgive because Jesus willing took our awful sins upon Him for us! It is the record of my sins, and yours, that rested upon our Lord on the cross. Jesus accepted rejection so that we might have be embraced by God and saved forever.

Dear friend, every child of God has his or her record cleared through the sacrifice of Jesus. While the fires of judgment licked at the flesh of Jesus on the Cross, He was already erasing the record of our sins so that we would never have to face eternal judgment. All of us who have received Jesus will never have to face the White Throne Judgment mentioned in The Book of Revelation. When you come to Jesus, you settle out of court. Jesus paid it – you accepted it – He is your Lord and Savior – the court case against you has been removed! No wonder the songwriter penned, “O, hallelujah, what a Savior!”

See Romans 8:1-2; Psalm 32:1-2

Psalm 22 records that the dying One cries out, “I am but a worm.” What an amazing thing. The Great “I Am” has become “I am but a worm.” That is what He did for us.

Jesus was abased, degraded and demeaned – humiliated, belittled and subjugated to the brutality of evil men so that we might have our record written clean.

II. The Shepherding Lord – Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is one of the most recognized and beloved passages of scripture found in the Bible. It is incontrovertibly linked with Psalm 22 and Psalm 24. Here we see the Shepherding Lord. You see, once we have met Jesus at Calvary, and once we have trusted Him as our Savior and Lord, we go beyond the Cross to the empty grave. We serve a risen Savior. As a living Lord, He is able to lead us and shepherd us through our Christian living. I do not serve a religion – I serve a Redeemer! This is not about religion – it is about a relationship with the living Christ.

The songwriter penned,

“I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today,

I know that He is living, whatever men may say.

I see his hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

He lives – He lives!”

(Quote Psalm 23)

He is guiding our lives, if indeed we are following Him. He sent His Spirit to live inside us. He sealed us against the day of judgment. He gifted us for service in His name. He takes us to the still waters where are souls are sated and satisfied. He restores us. When we get out of step, He puts us back on the right path. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Then, when we go through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us. You can’t have a shadow without a light. He is the light in every valley. You will never be in the dark alone as a Christian.

One of the interesting statements in Psalm 23 is this: “My cup overflows.” Explain the possible explanation for this.

Goodness and mercy follow me all the way home. Goodness seeks to keep me on the right path, but when I fail, mercy picks me up, cleans me off and puts me back on the right path. A Christian may fail in grace but he cannot fall out of grace. The child of God is like Noah in the Ark. Noah may have fallen down in the Ark but He did not and could not fall out of it! Mercy was there to be sure of that and that mercy is with all of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior.

So, I come to the Cross to be forgiven and accepted into the family of God. I follow on in the footsteps of the Great Shepherd.

Aren’t you glad that God is leading you?

“He leadeth me, O blessed thought,

O words with heavenly comfort frought.

Where ever I go, whatever I be,

Still tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

III. The Sovereign Lord – Psalm 24

We come now to Psalm 24. Something interesting happens in this Psalm. Twice the King of Glory comes to the ancient doors and asks for entrance. There is a slight difference in the wording between the two and there is a great reason for that.

A. His Accomplishment – Satan Defeated

Look at Psalm 24:7-8. Here we note a personage coming to gates and asking for entrance. A voice inside asks exactly who this king of glory is that wishes to enter. The answer is that this is the King of Glory, the strong King who is might in battle.

You will recall that our Lord was raised from the dead on the Sunday after Passover. Sunday was the first day of the week. Jesus came up out of the grave having been strong in battle. He defeated the great enemy of death. He put the hobnail boot of authority on the chest of death and stood up with the keys to death and hell in His hand and said, “I am He was dead but am alive forevermore!”

After His resurrection, Jesus ministered to His disciples for 40 days and then ascended back to heaven. What was His arrival like when He came to the Great Gates of Pearl? I believe they are described for us right here in Psalm 24. He came to the gates and cried out, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be lifted up ye everlasting doors that the King of Glory may come in.” A voice inside cried out, “Who is this King of Glory?” The answer came from the risen Christ who had the nail-scarred hands lifted as a sign of triumph, “The King of glory, strong and might in battle.” In other words, the King of Glory is the one who conquered death! He is the One who took our sins into the depth of the seas of emptiness and left them there. But, He walked out victorious.

Can you imagine the scene in heaven when Jesus got home after the Ascension? How the angels must have shouted! What a magnificent homecoming it was. Heaven must have rumbled with joy at the sight of the Lamb of God. How they must have shuttered when they saw His scars. What wonder that the very God who created the trees had hung on one. What amazement that the One who had created the elements including iron had been pierced through His hands and feet by man-made nails. What incredulity that the briars that had been formed because of Adam’s sin the Garden of Eden had been formed into a crown and placed on the lovely head of Jesus. The scars from those thorns were no doubt visible to the angel band.

Yes, Jesus was home in glory. And, there He resides making intercession for us to the Father to this day. But, He won’t stay there. No, He has another work to do and that leads us to Psalm 24:9.

B. His Accompaniment – Sinners Delivered

Once again we see the Lord, the King of Glory, coming to the gates. Again, He calls for them to be opened that the King of Glory may come in. Also, a voice inside asks who this King of Glory is. He answers that the King of Glory is the Lord of Hosts.

Now, when will Jesus ever come to the gates of glory with a host following Him? He will do this when He leaves His heavenly throne and comes to get His redeemed saints. Once day, Jesus is going to come on the clouds and take us home. He has prepared a place for us where He is, and He is coming to get us. Someone has said that there is a great empty space in the northern heavens and they believe that is where heaven is. That can’t be right. All of us who live in Dixie know that heaven can’t be anywhere in the north; it has got to be somewhere in the south! Right? Actually, I can tell you exactly where heaven is. There is no question about it at all. Heaven is wherever Jesus is!!! That is where we are going - to be with Him in the north, south, east or west. Wherever He is, that is where we will be forever!

One day, when Jesus comes back to the gates of glory, He will arrive with all of us surrounding Him. When they ask who this King of glory is, He will answer with a great sweep of His nail-scarred hands, “The Lord of hosts,” and He will be sweeping His hand out over us – the redeemed!

Now, can you imagine what that day will be like? When the great gates open and we are escorted down the streets of gold with the Lamb of God? No, you can’t imagine that. No preacher has a vocabulary to describe it. No orator has voice that can roll out the words to express the wonder of that moment. No elocutionist can pronounce with perfect language a depiction of what that moment will be like. But, it is going to happen.

Yes, the King arose and ascended. Yes, the King is coming and shall take us home. He is alive and full of love for sinners. He will save to the uttermost all who believe. He will one day deliver all those who are saved out of this present evil world. He will take us to His home in the sky. He will walk us through the gates of the city. We will shout and sing with the angels. Indeed, we can ask, “Selah, now, what do you think about that?” No one knows for sure what the word “Selah” means. John Phillips, the great commentator, who is with the Lord, said that he believed it was a statement beyond words. In other words, it meant, “Selah, now what do you think about that?”

Conclusion

The Suffering Lord, the Shepherding Lord and the Sovereign Lord! That is what we see here. What does that mean to us now?

A mother was telling her daughter that granddaddy had gone to be with Jesus. She shared that the Lord had prepared a nice place for granddaddy and that he had moved into his new place. She went on to tell her little girl that one day Jesus would come to get them to. The little girl inquired, When will Jesus come to get us, mommy? The mother explained that we do not know the hour or the day. The little girl looked quizzical. The mother asked if something was bothering her about all of this. The little girl said wisely, Mom, I was just thinking. If Jesus is coming to get us, and we don’t know when, don’t you think we ought to get ready?

I remember a story that Ed Thompson, a member of First Baptist Church, Lilburn, Metro Atlanta, Georgia, told me about his son. The family went on a trip many years ago to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. They told their young son that they were going to see a great castle. The boy was very excited about this trip. Finally they arrived and there before the lad was the great Vanderbilt mansion. Indeed, it is a castle. Then something unusual happened. Ed’s son asked, "Where is the king?" He was told that there was no king at this castle. The lad said something like this, "Well, let’s go home, you can’t have a castle without a king!"

Well, my friend, we are going to see the King. It is not the castle or mansion that we are interesting in. It is not streets of gold we are eager to see. We are going to see the King. Are you ready? You can be!

Extra

Not only did the choir sing Psalm 24 on the first day of the week after Passover, but the priest led in the Wave Offering, as described in Leviticus 23:10-11. The priest would take some wheat and he would wave this before the Lord. This wheat spoke of the first fruits of which there would be much more to come. That very morning, that Sunday morning when Jesus had risen form the tomb, a priest waved wheat at the Temple in Jerusalem. He little understood what the act really meant. It was a sign that Jesus is the first fruit of all who will rise from the dead, who will ascend to Heaven, who will live in glory. Rejoice, Christian, rejoice! Come sinners, poor and needy, Jesus will save you and you can know the peace of salvation and the promise of life!