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Christ in the Psalms: The Psalm of the Incarnation—Psalm 40

Notes & Transcripts

In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Israel’s religious leaders: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” (John 5:39, NIV84). The Scriptures he is referring to are of course what we call the Old Testament. The Jews call it the Tanakh. It’s an acronym formed by the initial Hebrew letters of the three traditional subdivisions of their bible: Torah—Ta (the Law), Nevium—Na (the Prophets), and Ketuvim—Kh, (the Writings). Jesus clearly tells the scholars of his day, that the Messianic prophecies of the Tanakh refer to him.

This Christmas season, I want to preach Christ to you from the vantage point of the Apostles. Within ten to fifteen years after the resurrection of Jesus, the Lord’s brother, James, and the Apostle Paul are authoring the earliest letters that would become part of our New Testament. Within twenty to thirty years after our Lord’s resurrection Matthew has penned his Gospel. Luke, Mark, and John would all follow. All of them tuned to their Scripture—our Old Testament—to see the life and ministry of Jesus foretold.

One of the very best sources for them were the Psalms, and that’s where we our attention will be focused through Christmas morning. The New Testament directly quotes 79 Psalm passages and paraphrases 333 other verses. This makes the Psalms the most quoted of the Jewish Scriptures in the New Testament.

We’re going to start with the 40th Psalm which teaches us that The Anointed One—the Messiah—would come to dwell among men.

In Psalm 40, verses 6-10 predict that a day will come when Deity Will Dwell with Men (vv. 6-10). "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O Lord. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly." (Psalm 40:6-10, NIV)

This central section of the Psalm is in four parts, with the incarnation clause in the center—“Here I am, I have come ... “

Martin Luther had a dream in which he stood on the day of judgment before God Himself--and Satan was there to accuse him. When Satan opened his books full of accusations, he pointed to transgression after transgression of which Luther was guilty. As the proceedings went on, Luther’s heart sunk in despair. Then he remembered the cross of Christ--and turning upon Satan, he said, "There is one entry which you have not made, Satan." The Devil retorted, "What is that?" And Luther answered, "It is this--the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sins."

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