GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE SAVIOR WHO DIED TO SAVE YOU!
TEXT: John 18: 36,37
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Pontius Pilate was an official of imperial Rome. He was the governor of the Roman province of Judea. Since Jesus was an accused traitor: a king, the Jews said, opposed to Caesar and Rome, Pilate was duty bound to question him and pass judgment. If Christ was some sort of king, then a rebellion could be forthcoming and Rome hated unrest. So, Jesus was questioned to ascertain whether or not He was a threat to Rome. The result of Pilate’s inquisition? “I find no basis for a charge against him.” And yet, he still ordered Jesus crucified. Tonight we’re going to examine the why’s and wherefores of this by:
SEEING HIS CROSS! OUR KING IS CRUCIFIED!
The question about Jesus being a king stuck in Pilate’s memory. It bothered him enough so that he had his soldiers affix that sign to Christ’s cross which said: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Perhaps Pilate thought it was a good joke. He wanted to tweek the troublesome Jewish leaders for bothering him. He had the notice written in Aramaic, the language of the people, in Latin, the official language, and in Greek, the language of the learned class. He wanted everyone to know.
Pilate must of have thought Jesus a hapless leader. What a pitiful symbol of Jewish foment? He had no army. He had no one speak up for him. To Pilate the Jewish leadership was just as hapless as Christ. Thus, his little joking sign. Of course, the leaders got it and objected: “Do not write, ‘The King of Jews, but that this man claimed to be the king of the Jews.” But Pilate refused to change his mind.
Yet, Jesus actually was a King, wasn’t He? And the cross provided the ultimate battleground for His ultimate triumph. On it He battled forces far more sinister than assassins and political intrigue. On it He battled the cumulative evil of the entire world, the death evil causes, and the legions of hell. To everyone born of human parents who had been trapped by sin and death and hell, Christ won a victory. By His death, weightier than anything else in all creation, than all the galaxies and universes combined, Jesus paid for all evil. His blood obliterated the power of death to destroy God’s gift of life and to crush human hope—it has this power because it is the blood of God’s Son! Yes, this King brings life by and through His death. And His resurrection from the dead, three days hence, would announce that life-changing fact to the universe! This amazing victory came at the cost of one life and one life alone—Jesus’ life.
His victory is our victory through faith. And in gratitude we want to serve Him every moment of every day. That’s what you’re doing here tonight, too, isn’t it? Pilate also knew about serving a king. In his case it was Tiberius Caesar. Pilate found advantages to his position, too. Wealth, power, prestige accompanied his office. But all that was temporary. Today Pilate is dead and millions deride his memory. Today Rome is vanished and old ruins and dust are all that remains. Today every Caesar has vanished. Yes, such is the condition of earthly realms and earthly kings.
Who was weak and who was strong in that judgment hall? In reality Pilate’s power was weakness and Christ’s weakness was eternal power. And so it is today. As Jesus told St. Paul: “My power is made perfect in your weakness.” The Christian Church has always been a force in this world and will be until the end of time. When Adam and Eve trusted in God’s promise of deliverance, the Church was born. It continued throughout the OT amid up, downs, and sideways moves in the political realm. It showed its power and won its eternal victory during Christ’s passion and continues to grow and exercise its spiritual power to this very day.—And yet the world looks at the Church and sees only weakness. Spiritual blindness, indeed! The other day I was thinking about that passage: “We walk by faith and not by sight.” I’ve always applied its meaning this way: We cannot see the future and so we trust God’s love to lead us into it without collapsing in fear. Well, I was given another insight into those words. That is, the world we actually see and experience is very, very scary if you dwell on it—so don’t! Look to the cross, walk by faith in God’s grace and you’ll be protected. It’s a parallel to Ps. 23: “Yea tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
The point is: the cross prepares us for eternity while giving us strength and comfort amidst the here and now. Our hope is based not on this life, but on the one to come. All this because Christ is our Living, Risen, Eternal King. Yes, with His cross always comes victory! Amen