Friday, March 27, 2015

Sermon for 3/25/15: Lent 5 midweek (Wounds series)



The Wound of Mockery

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The soldiers thought it funny, this Peasant pretending to be a king. They decided to have some fun with His apparent delusion. They began by taking His clothing. He had to stand there naked as they mocked Him. Then they found a scarlet robe and draped it over His shoulders. “There; now He is beginning to look like a king,” they joked. “But something is missing. He needs a crown!” And so, one of them thought up a crown for this peasant King from Galilee, a crown to teach Him a thing or two about His foolish dreams: a crown of entwining thorns. Hear the distant echo of those words of judgment God spoke to Adam in the Garden: “Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.” They smashed the crown down upon His head, and the thorns drew blood. His response was not what they had hoped for. He was silent to their taunts, the mockery, and the jeers.

Then someone came up with another missing item: “A king needs a scepter!” They scrounged around and found a reed, and put it in His hand. They stepped back to admire the finished product: blood running down His face from the thorns piercing His brow, His naked body barely covered with the scarlet robe, and a flimsy reed that flopped this way and that in His hand. “Behold, the man who would be king,” they said. Laughing with scorn, they fell on their knees. “Hail, King of the Jews,” they cried. Still, He looked on in silence as their mockery turned vicious. He would not play along with them, so He would pay. They began to spit on Him to show their utter contempt for Him. They took His scepter and whipped His head with it. “Some scepter. Some kingdom. You are nothing. You are about to die, King of the Jews!”

As He looked at them, these men missed the depth of His pity for them, for those who wounded Him with mockery, who tried to shame Him, who prepared to torture and murder Him. Look into His eyes, though, and you will see a depth of pity and love that will shake you to your core. It is a mere human trait, common to all of fallen humanity, to love your friends and to seek to do them good. But to love your enemies? To have nothing but pity and compassion for those who taunt you and are preparing to kill you? That is the mark of the heavenly Friend, our Lord Jesus Christ.
What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
There is no end to His love, His pity for them. The pity from the mocked King extends not only to those who tortured Him, but also to the entire human race, all of whom are complicit in His death. Only a few hours later, He would say: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Of course, the truth beyond all truths is that Jesus actually was King. Yes, Jesus was the long awaited Son of David. But even more, He was also the King of Gentiles and their Ruler. He is the One to whom the entire universe belongs. Every one of us, including those who mocked and shamed Him, owe our existence only to His will that we exist. You will never ponder the Passion correctly until you remember that a single thought from Jesus could have undone all those who sought His death; a single act could have destroyed us all. But all He returns is love, pity, and mercy. That is what fills Him. That is who Jesus is. And that is how He reigns as King. He rules in love: a love that hatred cannot conquer.

Jesus was determined to share fully in the lot we have chosen for ourselves. We were destined to lives of glory and majesty; that was what God wanted for us. But we threw all of that away and embraced instead the path of suffering and death. But He would not have that be our end. He came to walk that path as King so that, through His suffering, all that we lost might be restored to us again. Jesus was stripped of His clothing that our naked sinfulness might be clothed in the robe of His righteousness. He wore the crown of thorns, that we might wear the crown of eternal life. He was beaten and mocked, that we might be welcomed and treasured. The love of Christ overcomes all hatred and mockery, and remains love, so that a way would be opened for us to return from this misery of sin and death to the kingdom the Father planned for us from the beginning.

Jesus walked that suffering road in kingly fashion. None of the mockery can take from Him His majesty, His glory, His peace. He carries out every act of His Passion in burning love for the fallen race of men so that we might be restored. He chooses to lay down His life that we might live in Him. Such love on His part creates love on ours. That is why we sing:
O make me Thine forever!
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never,
Outlive my love for Thee.
Behold your King! Behold, beneath the blood and the blows, the eyes that look upon you with tender compassion. He does this for you, in undeserved love, that you would live with Him forever. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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