Wednesday, March 18, 2009

“His Homage” Mark 15:18-19

S-1108 3/18/09 3MIL/3B Hymns: (O) #175; (S) #166; (C) #237

Texts Psalm 95:1-7; Isaiah 52:7-15; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 15:15-20

Theme: “His Homage” (4th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Mark 15:18-19)

Question: “Have you ever bowed before a king?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our fourth Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel reading: “And they began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they were striking His head with a reed and spitting on Him and kneeling down in homage to Him” (Mark 15:18-19).

Saints in Christ, the Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat worked hard to bring about peace between Egypt and Israel. He signed a peace treaty at Camp David, by the aid of President Carter and Menachem Begin. For this treaty he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech he shared these words: Let us put an end to wars, let us reshape life on the solid basis of equity and truth. And it is this call, which reflected the will of the Egyptian people, of the great majority of the Arab and Israeli peoples, and indeed of millions of men, women, and children around the world that you are today honoring. And these hundreds of millions will judge to what extent every responsible leader in the Middle East has responded to the hopes of mankind.”

Because of his attempt to gain peace with the Israelis, he was invited by Prime Minister Menachem Begin to visit Israel. Anwar El Sadat accepted the invitation and on November 19, 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel. When he landed in Tel Aviv, Israel, he was met with cheering crowds waving both the Egyptian and Israeli flags. In that historical moment when an enemy of the state of Israel made peace with them he came to that country to show that he meant it. The people of Israel paid great homage to him because of what he did.

Rulers, kings and presidents are used to receiving homage from their people. People love to stand in line to waive their national flag and cheer as their ruler, king and president come by. We saw that just recently when President-elect Obama was about to be sworn into office. Hundreds of thousands of people waved the American flag and cheered him as he went by, paying homage to him.

So long ago, another man visited Israel, and throughout His earthly pilgrimage He lived as a man of peace, promoted peace and proclaimed peace to all who would listen to His voice. However, the Jewish leaders of the day objected to His mission of peace. They accused Him of trying to overthrow the Romans and claiming to be King Himself. They took Him to Pilate (with a large crowd following) and asked Pilate to condemn Him to death by crucifixion.

Pilate attempted to release Him but the shouts of the Jewish people would not permit him to do so. In his attempt to release Him, Pilate went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber. (Jh. 18:38b-40).

Pilate delivers the King of the Jews to the soldiers to be crucified. In the courtyard the cruel and cold soldiers thought King Jesus must also have homage. The Soldiers began to mock Him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” In jest they bowed before Him. And if this wasn’t enough, let’s make this homage more exciting, they spit on Him—dirty, disgusting spittle for His face; such was the homage considered worthy of this King. Others entertained themselves by snatching the reed from His hand and rapping Him over the head with it. Such was the respect they had for this King.

That night in the courtyard, the Romans soldiers bowed before Him in contempt and charade. They mocked Him because they thought He is no King; but how fitting homage is for this King. Before them stood more than just a man who lived in peace or promoted peace, more than a traveling Rabi from Nazareth, more than Jesus the Son of Mary. He was Jesus, the sinless, Almighty and Eternal Son of God, co-ruler of heaven and earth.

Yet, the Man of peace said nothing that night. He could have you know. One word from His lips and angels would have flocked to His defense. One sentence and those shady soldiers would have sprawled and stumbled on the pavement. One glance from His eyes and Pilate would have rendered helpless and powerless. One finger of His hands would have executed the death sentence upon them. But He didn’t stop them.

These cruel and callous soldiers were manhandling the King of kings. Finally they took Him outside the courtyard and the city of Jerusalem to a skull hill and there crucified Him on the cross. We wonder why He didn’t stop them. It isn’t that He couldn’t; but because He wouldn’t—He didn’t want to stop them. His love wouldn’t let Him stop them. In love He was “laying down His life for the sheep” as He taught them: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I Am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (Jh. 10:10-11). His love would compel Him to. This King, would humble Himself to the point of death, death on a cross. Here’s the true glory of our King! Willingly, joyfully, lovingly, He lays down His life for the sins of the world in order that we might inherit an eternal Kingdom.

So where are our cheers and flags? Where is our devotion to our King? Where is our loyalty to the Prince of peace? Are we not at times just as cold and cruel as the Roman soldiers? Are we not at times callous and calculating as others have been in the past? Do we not often turn and run away from the King of glory when the feet of faith get close to the fire? Do we not mock Him in our false homage to Him? Do we not give Him the external homage, but the heart is far from being honest? Do we not praise Him in public and curse Him in private? Do we not pray to Him and yet doubt His power to answer prayers? PAUSE.

When Anwar El Sadat came to Israel, many waved the Egyptian and Israeli flags and paid homage to Him. For his great and historic effort many of his countrymen hated him for what he did. On October 6, 1981, he was assassinated for making peace between the Egyptian and Israeli people. He died for what he believed in.

Jesus came upon the land of Israel to bring peace between God and Man. There was no Camp David,. There was no flight. There were no flags waiving that day outside of Jerusalem. But there were people screaming and shouting “crucify Him!” On Calvary they did. Christ was crucified and by His crucifixion and resurrection He brought peace between God and sinners. Jesus died for what He believed in—the saving of sinners-from hell’s grab, the grave’s slab and the devil’s trap. PAUSE.

As we live our Christian lives in general and during Lent in particular certainly we want to be on our knees before Him, sending prayers and praises to Him. But that’s the easy part. Far more difficult it is to keep on waving those flags and shouting those praises in the daily routine of life. Let our fellow church members see by the way we worship Him each Sunday; let our family members see by the way we lead them daily to His throne; let our fellow workers see by the way we dedicate workday matters to Him that we know who our King is, what He has done for us and how worthy He is to receive our homage every day of our lives and forever in heaven.

In the courtyard, under the shadow of darkness the soldiers mocked Him saying, “Hail King of the Jews!” That night in distain they paid homage to Him. But tonight, by the Spirit’s power we say, He is King indeed. He is my King and My Lord. And in joyfully obedience we dedicate our hearts and lives in service to the King and His Kingdom—for after all He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.

Now the peace…

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