27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
Dear Friends in Christ,
· Last week, we heard Peter wounding Jesus by denying three times before the rooster crowed, denying as predicted, we see Jesus looking Peter in the eyes and Peter looking away in shame, we see a wounded Jesus Christ proceeding to the cross, as predicted, on behalf of Peter and all of us who have wounded Him by not standing up for Him under pressure, we rejoiced that by his wounds we have been healed, we looked forward to that day when He will confess us before His Father in heaven.
· Two weeks ago, we saw Peter, James, and John wounding Jesus by falling asleep instead of staying awake, watching and praying, we saw how drowsiness can turn into apathy and how apathy can go ugly in a hurry, we saw a wounded Jesus praying, crying, sweating great drops of blood, proceeding to the cross, on behalf of all who have meant well but have fallen into a lukewarm of Christianity. We rejoiced that by his wounds we are healed, we rejoiced that our God is a God who never slumbers, never sleeps, is at our side in every situation.
· Three weeks ago, we saw Judas wounding Jesus, as predicted, by betraying with a kiss, we saw how betrayal comes from friends, we saw Jesus proceeding to the cross with grace in his heart and not bitterness, we rejoiced by his wounds we are healed, that by virtue of his death and resurrection, our sins are remitted, our souls saved, our heavenly mansions on reserve.
· Four weeks ago, on Ash Wednesday, the prophet Joel cried out for God’s people in all generations to see in the mirror of God’s law how far we have strayed, to see at the cross how far our Savior has come for us, we were reminded by the sign of the cross that from dust we came and to dust we shall return, we rejoiced that although the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
· Today we see Roman soldiers having some fun at Jesus’ expense. We see them stripping Him naked, putting a purple robe on him, twisting a crown of thorns into his head, putting a floppy reed in his right hand, kneeling before him, and mocking him as a fake king. We see them insulting him in the best way they knew how, by spitting, we see them smacking him on the head and having the time of their lives, killing some time, thinking to themselves how big and how important and how funny they were. We see Jesus today. We see Him wounded, we hear Him to be silent, we watch as he goes as a lamb silent to the slaughter. We see him proceeding to the cross, as predicted, we see him with pity in his heart instead of bitterness, with love for his enemies instead of hated, with a desire for mercy instead of vengeance.
· Two truths we want to learn one more time as we stand with Jesus in the governor’s headquarters, as we see Roman soldiers taking over, as we confess the times we have made fun of Jesus by making fun of one another.
1) We see how cruel people can be, even though we’re not exactly sure what their motives are. (Advice from a presenter at a pastors’ conference – to avoid at all costs trying to figure out people’s motives)
2) We see how deep is God’s love for us, and we know exactly what His motive is. (How blessed we are as often as we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ and why He suffered what He suffered and did what He did)
· We see how cruel people can be, even though we’re not exactly sure what their motives are. Even though we say again and again that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, there were all kinds of Jews and all kinds of Gentiles with all kinds of motives who joined in on the wounding and the crucifying.
1) When Jesus was arrested, there was a great crowd of chief priests and elders of the people, crowds including all kinds of common Jewish people. Their motives? Maybe they were angry, maybe they were jealous, maybe they were afraid, maybe they were going along with the crowd, maybe they just wanted to be part of history, who knows? What we do know is why Jesus kept on proceeding, it his desire to do what his father had sent him to do, it was his desire to pay the price nobody else could pay, it was his desire to
2) At the mock trial before a Jewish council, the Jewish ruling elite joined in. Their motives? Maybe they were angry, maybe they felt threatened, maybe they were afraid for the future, maybe they were feeling guilty about the past, maybe what Jesus had said really irritated them, maybe the miracles he had performed really were upsetting their apple carts, who knows? What we do know is why Jesus Christ set his face like flint for Jerusalem, we know his motive, it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the worst kind of mockery, it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross, He scorned its shame, He was crucified until He was dead and buried. His desire was to be our Savior and King, His motive was mercy, His end goal was to save our sorry souls.
3) Before Pontius Pilate, there was a Gentile ruling class who joined in on the mocking, they joined in on the wounding, they joined in on the Thursday evening festivities. They thought it was hysterical – a Galilean peasant pretending to be a king.
4) So also did the Roman soldiers get in on the fun / perhaps they had some time to kill / maybe they just had a mean streak in them / maybe some of them felt guilty about it/we don’t know their motives / maybe it made them feel important / maybe it made them feel big / we don’t know / they wound Jesus with their mockery. Three aspects of their mockery we note:
a) Stripped him naked and put a scarlet robe on him / scarlet is a symbol of kingly authority / we remember the Old Testament tabernacle where God dwelt with His people and forgave their sins through the blood of sacrifices / we hear Isaiah predicting, “tho their sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow / we hear Jesus praying, Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing /we hear from Jesus silence and we watch one unblemished lamb going forth to the slaughter
b) Twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on his head and put a reed in his hand, kneeling before him and mocking him / I don’t know what it is like to be mocked / High school stories of Annette, Linda, Jane / stories of not standing up for others getting made fun of / Debi / why can teens be so cruel? / adults hearing name of God used in vain and saying nothing / society openly making fun of traditional doctrines and saying little or nothing / why can adults be so cowardly and passive and let such mockery continue? Don’t know / What we do know is that on the Last Day, Jesus will say when I was hungry….when I was thirsty…..when I needed someone to stand up for me, you did……….He won’t remember the times we humiliated others to make ourselves feel big and important, He won’t remember the times we were quiet when we should have spoken up and the times we blurted sarcasm when we should have been quiet.
c) And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him / Why spit? / I can remember a few spitting contests with my cousins – for no particular reason / Perhaps they wanted to insult / perhaps it just felt fun / perhaps it was their custom /we would look at the painting today and look at the mirror at the same time / When children make fun of teachers behind their backs, they are making fun of Jesus / when teens roll their eyes in sarcasm at their teachers, you are rolling your eyes at Jesus / when we adults make fun of others / when we make jokes at the expense of others / when we look down our noses at others for whatever reason,we are wounding Jesus / and yet Jesus proceeds to the cross/sent by His Father / helped by crying women and Simon of Cyrene / pushed and shoved by soldiers /
He is stripped, that our sinful nakedness might be clothed in the bright robe of His righteousness. He wears a crown of thorns, that we might wear a royal diadem. He is beaten and mocked, that we might be welcomed and treasured. The everlasting love of God is on this Good Friday overcoming all hatred and all mockery. Jesus goes to the cross in kingly fashion. You see, none of this mockery can take from Him His majesty, His glory, His peace. He suffers all that He suffers and He walks every step that He walks with a burning love for sinners in every generation, those of us who have relatively easy roads to travel and those whose roads are incredibly rough.
This evening, I invite you one more time to not hide your faces from his, one more time as you look into His eyes / in this Lenten season:
· Do notice the humiliation, notice the mockery, notice the spitting even as you remember the waters of Baptism that have already washed over your soul and claimed you as sons and daughters of your Father in heaven.
· Do notice the despising, notice the rejecting, notice the bleeding, even as you rejoice that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from every one of your faults/ failures/ foibles.
· Do notice the crushing, notice the striking, notice the crushing, even as the forgiveness of sins sweeps over your souls - He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther