S-1106 3/11/09 1MIL/3B Hymns: (O) #140 vs.1-4; (S) # 341 (C) # 145
Texts Psalm 21:1-7; Isaiah 61:1-3; Revelation 19:9-16; Mark 15:15-20
Theme: “His Crown” (3rd sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Mark 15:17b).
Question: “Have you ever worn a victor’s crown?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our third Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel reading: “[They…twisted together a crown of thorns, [and] put it on Him” (Mk. 15:17b).
Saints in Christ, tonight we continue to walk on our Lenten journey, a journey that will take us by spirit into Pilate’s courtyard and there view with unbelief the Roman soldiers twisting together a crown of thorns and placing it on the sacred head of the man that is standing still before them. Come closer (motion to them) and see what I see. Come and watch history in the making. Come, learn, consider, and reflect and ponder the cruel punishment that the Savior endured that night for YOU.
Enter any high school or college hallway and you will see many trophies behind enclosed glass. These trophies tell of the many victories the athletes of these schools have won over the years. These trophies are placed there with pride and each has its announcement telling the event, the person or the team that earned such a trophy.
In the local papers, or on TV from time to time, you will notice young ladies wearing a skimpy bikini, sash, and crown won for a beauty pageant. As each of these contestants moves from the local, to the region, to state and national, the bigger the crown gets. The biggest pageant crown is the Miss America crown. The winner walks with great pride, tears of joy streaming down her cheeks and holding a bouquet of roses. As she takes her winner’s walk, people applaud and congratulate her. TV cameras zoom in on her face and the next morning her face is printed in every newspaper and on the internet
Crowns have been worn by beauty pageants, athletes of old, kings and queens and even during marriage ceremonies in my country. Crowns stand for something special, as a reward of sorts. Royalty adorn their heads with these crowns and parade them for all to see. Some of these crowns are simple circles of flowers, or palm branches, others are a golden circle and still others are ornate and precious jewels. From Egypt’s ancient dynasties, to Europe’s modern monarchy, to the Middle East’s Kingdom, the royalty wear a crown.
Tonight, though, we are not considering the latest pageant crown, or the athletic trophy, or the crown of a monarchy; bur rather a different kind of crown—a crown not made from flowers, metal, or precious gems, but of twisted thorns and placed on One called Jesus of Nazareth.
As we stand by, in the darkness we see the shadow of a man standing still, not attempting to escape. We see soldiers—Roman soldiers like a pack of hyenas ready to jump on their prey. They kneel in mockery before the royal subject that is before them. With cruelly they mock Him. And to make the mockery complete, one of the soldiers takes a prickly branch and twists it together in the form of a crown and placed it on Jesus’ head. If Jesus is a king, then a crown needs to be on His royal head. But in the darkness that crown didn’t sparkle. But that is not a problem. This could be easily remedied. But the remedy is one that we don’t like to see. A few blows to the head and the thorns are driven deep into His skull and blood begins to pour down and glisten like rubies.
Do you see that crown on His head? Do you see the blood running down His face? That night on Good Friday, the Roman soldiers mocked the man form Nazareth by placing a crown of thorns upon His head. But do you know why? Why would the crown be part of His lot? Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and His Word. Since the fall all our life is a journey through the land of thorns and thistles. In Adam’s fall we saw the world become a thorn-infested place, of sin, shame, and disgrace. Because of the fall, God’s wrath had to be implemented. Because of that Jesus would take our place. To the endth degree He would suffer misery. Thorns were part of the brutal barbs He endured on Good Friday.
Tonight, in the courtyard, we see Him standing and wearing a crown adorned with His own blood—blood more precious than all earthly treasures. Blood—precious, innocent, holy blood able to win that which nothing else could buy—the life mans soul. That crown touched with His innocent blood speaks of the cleansing it accomplished for sinners, and the victory it earned for the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. PAUSE.
Saints in Christ, the cross ALWAYS comes before the crown except for Jesus. The reason Jesus came to earth was to suffer and die as the substitute for a sinful world. Being the Christ didn’t mean good times and a life of earthly glory. Jesus would have to bear a cross. Before the true robe of royalty would come the fake robe of mockery, before the crown of glory would come a crown of thorns.
In the same book by our author, we read these words: “And He [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk. 8:31). After all, this is why Jesus came. He came to offer His life blood for the world. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (Jh. 3:16-17).
The heaven-sent Savior, Jesus rejected the way of a crown without a cross. Every step Jesus took led Him closer to Calvary. He never stopped or turned back. That is why He let the soldiers mock Him. That is why He stood still until they drove the crown of thorns into His sacred head. That is why that night He wore the crown of thorns with pride. That is why He willingly took up His cross. He accepted it. He carried it. He welcomed it. He bore it for you and you and you. (Point at the people).
When Jesus embraced His cross, He was really embracing you. He knew that that this crown He is wearing will be exchanged someday for a different crown. He knew that His cross and everything that it brought with it would bring you life, forgiveness and salvation in His name.
Jesus didn’t refuse to wear the crown of thorns. Jesus let the pack of hyenas devour His flesh for you. He endured the mockery, the mob, the mauling and bleeding for you, so that someday you will know the sacrifice He endured to secure your salvation.
Only the victors get the trophy. Only the victors get crowned. Only kings are crowned and paraded with pride. But Jesus didn’t look like a victor that day. That was Good Friday, but Sunday’s coming. That first Easter Sunday our champion rose victoriously from the grave, the pack of hyenas ran for cover, and the spoil comes to us.
Our Savior and King rules in our midst, and also from heaven, where the angels who have ever been, and those who have gone before us join in the chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power, and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Shall we not join them? Can we be silent while angels sing the great Redeemer’s praise? Is it not rather, “Oh, that with yonder sacred throne we at His feet may fall. We’ll join the everlasting song and crown Him Lord of all?” Why wait for heaven dear friends to crown our eternal King? The King reigns among us even now. Right here as we stand in the courtyard of Pilate and see Him with our own eyes; let us by the power of the Holy Spirit give Him the throne room of our hearts. Let us by faith lift our eyes heaven-ward, bow our knees before Him, and raise our voices, and proclaim what the apostle Paul said at the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”
May the Savior, whose sacred head was scornfully surrounded with thorns as His only crown, forgive our frequent lack of loyalty and fainthearted service to Him. Remember how the hymn writer shared this awesome love: “See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
“King” the Romans soldiers cried that Good Friday in mockery. But tonight, we shout back “King indeed!” For He who wore that crown of thorns, by His glorious resurrection has prepared for us a crown of glory. Jesus gets the crown of unrighteousness. We receive the crown of righteousness! The happy exchange, how strange. Amen.
Now the peace…