Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lent Midweek 4

Lent Midweek 4[1]

March 25, 2009

Text: Matt. 27:27-31 (ESV): 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion 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.

Jesus didn’t look like a King. The soldiers would have some fun with this One. He probably wasn’t the first to come before this battalion of Roman soldiers in Jerusalem claiming to be King of the Jews. The soldiers would teach this One a lesson. Stripping Him of His own clothes, they put a scarlet robe on Him, the color of royalty, the color of blood. Of course every King needs a crown. They twist together a crude crown of thorns to pierce His sacred head. They give Him a reed for a scepter. They bow down before Him and worship Him in mockery. They take His scepter from Him and beat Him on His head. “Hail, King of the Jews!” they cry. Little do they know that in their mockery, they confess the truth. Jesus is the King of the Jews. And the scarlet blood that pours from His sacred veins is more fitting a garment than any royal robe of scarlet or purple. Though they mock Him now with sham worship, the truth is that the day will come when, at the Name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). It will be a Day of great vindication for Jesus and His followers. It will be a dreaded Day of wrath for those who in this life rejected their King to the bitter end.

Jesus bears the wound of mockery for us and for our salvation. Isaiah prophesied it hundreds of years before: “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (Is. 50:6). Again, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not’ (53:2-3). So also the Psalmist, King David, sang of our Lord: “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!'” (Ps. 22:7-8). Our Lord Jesus bears this cruel mockery in silence. In one moment, in the twinkling of an eye, He could have annihilated the Roman soldiers and every sinner on the face of the earth. But He does not. Love compels Him to bear the injustice; love for the soldiers, love for you, love for me, love for every son and daughter of Adam and Eve.

The soldiers beat and mock Love incarnate and unwittingly confess the truth: Jesus of Nazareth is King of the Jews. He is enthroned on the cross, lifted up in suffering, lifted up in glory. For what looks like defeat, a beaten, bloodied corpse nailed to a tree, is, in fact, the victory of the Son of God over sin, death, and the devil. And from His wounds pours the scarlet robe of His blood, covering Jesus the King, covering His Church, covering you, making Kings and Queens out of the very sinners whose mockery nailed Him to that crude throne. “Hail, King of the Jews,” is absolutely right. Hail, King, not only of the Jews, but of all people, of all the universe, of heaven and earth, of all that is, visible and invisible. Let His blood be on us and on our children. For the life is in the blood. Life everlasting is in the blood of the Son of God, the blood that cleanses us from all sin.

The cross is the standard of Jesus’ royal court. That is to say, you must know, O you who would follow Him, that you will have to bear the cross as well, that you will bear in your bodies the stigmata of Jesus. The world will mock you as well. You know this already. The world, our culture, our society, is hostile to Jesus and to His church. And they mock you. “You don’t really believe in a six day creation, do you? Everyone knows evolution is true. You don’t really believe all this virgin birth and resurrection stuff, do you? Come on, how can you believe such ridiculous assertions?” And you may suffer more than mockery. Like your Lord Jesus, the day may come when you have to suffer arrest and even death. So be it! A disciple is not above his Master. If they hated Jesus, they will hate you. But Jesus bore the wound of mockery, the wound of rejection, the wound of death and the wound of hell for you and for your salvation, for your forgiveness, for your life. So now you can bear mockery, if that is the cross the Lord calls you to bear. You can bear all things. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. For Christ is risen. And love compels you; love for your risen Lord Jesus, love for those who mock you and persecute you, love that hopes and prays that they, too, would come to confess—not in mockery, but in sincerity—that Jesus of Nazareth is King of the Jews, King of all people, their King and their Savior.

And in the end, you will be raised, too, just as Jesus is risen. In the end, none of the mockery you have to bear will matter, for Jesus will take you into His glorious Kingdom, a new heaven and a new earth. And that is the Day you will be vindicated. That is the Day when every knee will bow to Jesus and confess what you already know about Him, that Jesus is Lord, the Son of David, the Son of God, our King. In the mean time, wrap yourself in the scarlet robe of royalty He has placed upon you, His holy, precious blood, which He continually gives to you in His Word, His Baptism, His Supper. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] This year’s Lenten series is based on the book, Sacred Head, Now Wounded (St. Louis: Concordia, 2009). The sermon is my own, but the theme and many of the ideas in this sermon come from the book.

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