Online Worship for Lent Five, Sunday March 26, 2023
Sermon for Lent Five - 4/5/09 & 3/13/16 – Sunday March 26, 2023
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 27:35-43 (NKJV)
35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” 36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who went the way of the Cross alone,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –
A number of years ago, my oldest Son, Jacob, introduced me to a little paperback entitled: The Book of Useless Information. It’s kind of addicting. Did you know that every US President has worn glasses? Did you know that the longest presidential inauguration speech was 1 hour and 45 minutes, delivered by President William Henry Harrison in a snowstorm? Did you know he died of pneumonia a month later? Is it really useless information?
It’s not useless information, but did you realize that only one word is used in Scripture to describe the crucifixion of Jesus? It’s stated rather ‘matter-of-factly’ that they crucified Him. God’s Word really doesn’t give us a full color glossy picture of the mode of execution that Jesus endured on Calvary.
Why no details? It is the fact of Christ’s death and resurrection and what they mean that matters, not the details.
However, we are given some of the details of the things that happened while Jesus hung on the Cross. On this 5th Sunday in Lent, we consider a couple of the events that took place on Friday of Holy Week. We look upon the crucified Jesus and listen to the Insults of Good Friday.
The dying Jesus was insulted by Roan Soldiers, by Pilate, by passersby and even by the religious leaders. We hear their insults, and ask that the Spirit of God bless our study of the Word. Amen.
35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” 36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.
There is no question that the Roman Soldiers insulted Jesus, and had sadistic fun at His expense. We are given some of the details. They gathered the whole garrison around him in the Praetorium and made fun of Him. They dressed Him in a scarlet robe and presenting a reed as a mock scepter, they beat him with it. They didn’t only insult Him in the Praetorium, but also on Calvary.
After they had nailed Him to the cross, they treated him like He was already dead. It was understood that the soldiers of the execution detail were entitled to the property of the condemned. They didn’t even wait for him to die, but divided up his possessions in front of Him, his cloak, his tunic, belt, sandals and head covering.
Little did they know that they were even then fulfilling the Scriptures, doing what was foretold in Psalm 22:18.
Jesus is still insulted today when people pretend that He is dead. Do we sometimes act like Jesus is dead or unable to help us? When our troubles, stresses and concerns rise to flood level in our lives we sometimes despair and in depression live like all is lost and none can help.
When we are down and out; when nothing is going right ask:
“Is Jesus dead? Can He not help me?”
The Holy Spirit will lift us up in the midst of the storm, as He once did with the Psalmist (Psalm 42:11):
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)
God help us to live each day (not like it’s Good Friday) like its Easter Sunday. My Jesus is alive and rules the universe for me and longs to hear my prayer.
The Soldiers were not the only ones to insult Jesus on Good Friday. While they hung the accusation on the cross above His head, it wasn’t their idea…but Pilate’s.
37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
History tells us that it was common to indicate the charges against one who was crucified by writing it on a sign. The sign was often borne before the condemned to the place of execution. In Jesus’ case, it was even fastened to the cross above His head. It was clearly meant as a joke. It said: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Did Pontius Pilate really think that Jesus was a King or the King of the Jews? Did He believe Jesus to be a man of power and authority? He asked repeatedly, “Are YOU a King?”
The sign above Jesus head was meant as an insult of the Jews and of Jesus. This is Jesus, the finest and only king that the Jews can muster. He’s dying on a cross between two criminals. What a joke!
Do notice that Jesus’ accusation said nothing about a crime or guilt. If Pontius Pilate had known the truth, then He might have written: “This is Jesus; He dies for the sins of all humankind.” The truth is that He died for sin, for crimes and guilt that didn’t belong to Him, but were laid upon Him by our merciful God.
Pontius Pilate mocked Jesus Kingship…and people still do today. I’m not just talking about the unbelieving who laugh and say that He has no real authority or power in matters of life and death. He has real power and authority. I guarantee there will be no laughing when He comes again on the clouds of heaven! When the Judgment Day dawns and they must stand before the Judge with their sins and guilt there will be no mocking.
The One who bled and died beneath that sign has the authority and power to forgive sins. He can forgive because He didn’t just die to atone for original sin, but for actual sin as well. He proved that He has the authority and power to forgive sins in a tangible way when he forgave the sins of a paralytic and some questioned it (Matthew 9:5-6):
5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
May we never insult Jesus by doubting that His payment for sin was sufficient! Let’s not insult him or tarnish His sacrifice by offering to make up for our sins.
Moreover, let us take comfort in the fact that Jesus was not insulted to spend time with sinners. He came to save sinners. He is not insulted when sinners call upon Him in faith at the doorstep of death (cf. repentant thief).
39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
The Soldiers, Pontius Pilate…even those who passed by Calvary also insulted Him. They shook their heads (cf. Psalm 22:7) at Him and mocked the words He had spoken. They considered Him a blowhard, a big talker unable to back up His claim. The sad truth is that in rejecting the Son of God and His Word, they were themselves indicted. The Word of Christ will stand as the message of condemnation on the Last Day, as it is written (John 12:48):
48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Sadly, they misinterpreted His Word…as many who carelessly handle it do today. Jesus didn’t say that He would tear down the temple building and rebuild it in 3 days, but said that (John 2:19) if they destroyed the temple of His body that He would rise again in 3 days. He did what He said He would and left the sign that forever proves He is the Son of God.
They said….He can’t be God’s Son if He won’t save Himself. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
They demanded proof that He was the Son of God – the only proof they would accept was his coming down from the cross. Satan did the same thing in the wilderness: “Prove you are the Son of God by making these stones into bread (Matthew 4:3-4).”
Would it really have mattered? Would they have changed their tune if he’d come down from the Cross? NO. They had the Scriptures, the words of Moses and the Prophets which foretold these things (Isaiah 53). They had been given His Word and other signs of His Divinity.
They would not believe even if He came back from the dead (cf. Luke 16:31).
Still today people insult Jesus by denying that He is God. It’s not just the cults (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses) who suggest that Jesus isn’t really God; but also the learned in our society who arrogantly reject the Word.
In two weeks (God willing) we will rejoice and praise our God as we again see in the Resurrection the proof that Jesus is the Son of God. He is declared to be the Son of God with power…by the Resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).”
41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.
Finally, even the religious leaders insulted Jesus. They threw dignity and integrity out the window and gave free reign to the basest and ugliest of passions. In so doing, they also unwittingly quoted the word of God (cf. Psalm 22).
They insulted His helping of others. “He saved others…” was not an admission, but a denial. He supposedly saved others, but look here, He doesn’t even have power to save Himself, how pathetic.
They insulted His claim to be the Promised Savior. “He’s the King of Israel…let him come down from the cross.” If he does that we’ll believe that He is the Christ. The Christ isn’t supposed to die, but live to defeat our enemies!
The Truth was…that even then He was winning the battle for their souls.
Would it really have mattered? Would they have changed their tune if He had descended from the Cross in dramatic fashion? NO. Unbelief is stubbornly blind in insisting it sees.
It would have mattered to us. If Jesus had come down from the Cross, He’d have proved Himself to be no Savior.
If Jesus had come down from the Cross…there would have been no conclusion to the work of Salvation, no ‘it is finished.”
If Jesus had come down from the Cross…there would be no torn veil, no earthquake, no atonement, no resurrection.
If Jesus had come down from the Cross…we’d have no certainty of life in facing death, no hope of pardon.
It would be far worse for us if it could be said: “He saved Himself…but cannot save others.”
We hear their insults…and we rejoice that Jesus dismissed them and did not revile in return. Instead, Jesus trusted in the Father (cf. 1 Peter 2:19-25). When we are insulted for our faith, we may do the same.
May God strengthen our faith to that end! Amen.