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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

Behold, the King of Israel!

Updated: Mar 30

A Sermon for Good Friday 2024

Good Friday – 3/29/2024

John 19:16b-22

Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer

 

That portion from God’s holy Word for consideration this evening is St. John’s account of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ from John chapter nineteen with special emphasis on verses 16b-22 which read as follows:

 

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.””[1]

 

Thus far the Scriptures.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

                Jesus Christ, King of the Jews, King of Creation, enthroned on a cross. His crown was a ring of thorns. His royal robes were divided among the soldiers who enthroned Him on that cross. Those who were supposedly of His people, long foretold of His coming received Him not. They cast Him to the pagan Romans and consigned Him to death. His people, though initially receiving Him as their King, allowed, no, handed Him over to death and cried out with a loud voice that they had no king but Caesar.

                But these, those who were supposed to know better, were not the only ones making a confession that day. The leader of these pagan, unbelieving Romans in that place, Pontius Pilate, confessed rightly who Christ was, though inadvertently. The sign hung on the cross listing the charges against Him read, “The King of the Jews.” And to drive home the point, he wrote this inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, ensuring that everyone around would know and exactly why this Man, this Jesus, was being put to death.

                We don’t think much of kings as Americans. Sure, there are those who have some fascination with the British royals, but by and large the concept of a King is a foreign, fairy-tale concept to us. But, make no mistake, the world is full of kings and wannabe kings. Every man or woman that seeks power over others, every person who puts himself first, those who take advantage over others, all see kingship of a type. Sure, it is a corrupted kind of kingship that sinners seek, one that is self-serving and tyrannical, but we seek it nonetheless. One of the great driving forces behind human behavior is this desire both to be and to have a king.

                Usually, these petty kings go by other names, such as politician, influencer, entitled, entrepreneur, and the like, which makes identifying them somewhat difficult. Further complicating this is that not all politicians and entrepreneurs are wannabe kings. But these petty kings do exist and do try and claim allegiances that properly speaking should belong to Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

                Today it is becoming distressingly common for people to cry out for a king, a strong person who will fix our nation’s woes and set our culture and lives back on the right footing. And while good laws and orderly government are certainly worth working for, it is not a king of men, an American emperor who is going to do this for us.

                The real problem is not out there, in those leaders who waste our tax dollars, indulge in every pork barrel project under the sun, and who promote ungodly and immoral things by putting the stamp of approval of the US government on it. The problem also does not lie in those cowardly, spineless people who, once elected to public office, lose their nerve, and give into every ridiculous scheme and immoral proposal. More still, the problem with our nation doesn’t even lie in those who would rob us of our rights and property, who want to destroy our economic system, and who seek to vilify certain demographics simply by dint of their sex or skin. Certainly, there is much evil in these things that displeases not only Christians, but God Himself.

                However, the real problem is, as it has always been, us. Yes, it is not those people out there who have brought ruin to us in our time, it is us. Sin envelops every man, woman, and child. Each of us is mired in this reality of sin, that is to say, we all are constituted in this world tainted with sin. Sin is our natural state, it is laced through our being and no amount of behavior modification will root it out. Further, in addition to our state as sinners, we also desire sin and seek to be seen daily. Temptation is not something trifling thing that is easily tossed aside. It not only entices us with false treasures and pleasures, but it has a willing partner in our sinful self. These two then produce in us that desire to ignore proper authority, to cheat, swindle, and steal. It brings lust, gluttony, and drunkenness. And from there comes the horde of actual sins that we do. Whether it is the wrong that we have done or the good that we have not done, we sin continually, and often despite our best efforts to the contrary.

                Now many have argued that the way forward here is to simply control those sins that we do. Certainly Scripture agrees with this, that is, it tells us to refrain from these sins and expects us to do so. However, even perfect outward control would do nothing to change our desire for sin. Further it would do nothing to change our state of being, our status as sinners who are part of a sinful world. It would not change our guilt before God.

                These petty wannabe kings of this earth, ourselves or others, cannot do anything about this either. They too are stuck in sin, guilty of sin, and deserving of death.

                But there is a King, the King, who not only is able to do something about Sin, but who in fact has done something about sin. This is why the place where we look to Christ, enthroned in royal state is on the Cross. There, exercising His kingly duty to care for His people, He suffered unto death in order to pay our sin debts, redeem us, and grant us life and salvation. And now, by the work of the Holy Spirit, this is yours through faith. Our sins, no matter how great and shameful, are done away with in Christ. And now we are His people, His subjects, set to dwell with Him forever in eternal bliss.

                Kings demand to be served, but this is a corruption of the office of king. The King, Jesus Christ, came not to be served, but to serve. And so He has. He has given Himself unto death, delivering His people from sin and death, serving us, and making us His at the cost of His very life. He is the good King, the true King, the very King of Kings. And this is  exactly the essence of kingship: to serve one’s people, to care for them, even at the cost of one’s own life. And this is what Christ has done.

                While he may have meant it as a form of mockery, it turns out that Pontius Pilate was right. Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews, indeed, even the King of all creation.

 

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

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


[1] English Standard Version

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