Friday, March 27, 2009

“His Throne” (Mark 15:20b)

S-1110 3/25/09 5MIL/3B Hymns: (O) #821 HS; (S) # 821 HS, by choir; (C) 143 1-3, 15

Texts Psalm 9:1-9; Hebrews 4:14-16; Revelation 4:1-6; Mark 15:15-20

Theme: “His Throne” (5th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Mark 15:20b)

Question: “Have you ever seen/scene a throne?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our fifth Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel reading: “Then they led Him out to crucify Him(Mark 15:20b).

Saints in Christ, in first kings we read these words: “The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold. The throne had six steps, and at the back of the throne was a calf’s head, and on each side of the seat were armrests and two lions standing beside the armrests, while twelve lions stood there, one on each end of a step on the six steps. The like of it was never made in any kingdom” (1 Kings 10:18-20).

What a magnificent throne that must have been for King Solomon. He spared no expense to show the power and prestige he had. His fame and honor was evident by this throne that he built. Normally, kings have thrones. It is the seat of honor and power in their kingdom. Travel to Madrid, Spain and you will see a most beautiful throne. It is fashioned with the finest of gold and upholstered with the richest velvet.

So many years ago, in that dark and dreary night in the courtyard, the soldiers thought that Jesus as the King of the Jews should have a throne as well; a place of honor; a place where they can see His power and prestige. So they made Him one. It was not fashioned with the finest of gold or the richest upholstery. It didn’t have armrests and lions on each step. But it was made in an unlikely fashion—it was a seat reserved only for the worst criminals and the lowest of slaves. Mark, in our reading tonight tells us what kind of throne it was. “Then they led Him out to crucify Him.” (Mark 15:20b)

Tonight’s appointed Scripture readings suggest a progression, a movement, a sequence—from the throne room of Pilate, to the courtyard, to Calvary’s mountain—from a throne of wood to a throne of blood to a throne of good.

A Throne of Wood

The cross has more than once been referred to as Jesus’ throne. Some throne!

The word “To crucify” literally means “to stand,” or to a “standing,” a stake, of wood. That night so long on the cross of wood, there was no place to sit for Jesus! Even though some historians note that some crosses did have seats. The seat is called a sedile (pronounced se-dahy-lee), shelf-like, it hung halfway down the cross to lessen the bulk of the weight borne on the arms of those being crucified. However, the purpose of the sedile was far from compassion and mercy. Instead, it was intended to prolong the crucifixion, bring about the most severe pain as each person labored up and down to fill his lungs with air. Each time the criminal goes up he rubs his body against the rough timber, slivers slide into the skin and blood oozes out and drips to the floor. The up and down progression caused havoc on the body, all the while people looked at the exposed and naked body and brought about the humiliation of the one being crucified. As if being on a throne of wood isn’t humiliating enough!

Who can describe the pain of the rough nails tearing through flesh as nerve endings scream out? Who can lay out in words what it meant to hang on that rough wood and wait for life to ebb slowly, all too slowly, from a pain-wracked body? Still worse, who can plumb the depth of what it meant for Jesus to have hell’s punishment was over Him, one crashing wave after the other, as payment for every sin in the world was demanded? Who can describe what it meant for the Son of God to drink that cup of suffering to its bitter end on the cross where He was enthroned.

Up and down, breath in, fill the lungs; up and down, breath in, fill the lungs; up and down, breath in, fill the lungs; al the while the blood, the red crimson blood falls unto the ground. His body ached, His eyes swollen, His lips are cracked, His tongue is sticking to the roof of His mouth and more blood, more blood; and more blood. The blood dirtied the floor below Him and crusted in the Palestinian sun.

A Throne of Blood

“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood…” (Revelation 1:5b)

From a throne of wood to a throne of blood. Not a pretty picture, because really we don’t know what that meant. We don’t know the anguish. Oh, yes, we see the cross everywhere. Some are shiny and smooth like ours; some are gilded with gold or silver. Some are hand-carved and others are painted; but not Christ’s cross. Did you think about the hymns that we along with the choir sang?

Deep were His wounds, and red, on cruel Calvary,

as on the cross He bled in bitter agony

He suffered shame and scorn and wretched, dire disgrace;

forsaken and forelorn, he hung there in our place…

His life, His all, He gave when He was crucified;

our burdened souls to save, what fearful death He died!

Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow, where the blood of Christ was shed,

perfect man on thee did suffer, perfect God on thee has bled!

Here the King of all the ages, throned in light ere worlds could be,

robed in mortal flesh is dying, crucified by sin for ME.

O mysterious condescending! O abandonment sublime!

Very God Himself is bearing all the sufferings of time!

It may not be a bad idea to watch again Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ following Good Friday worship. Maybe that will bring it all back home—and for a good purpose, as from a cross of wood to a cross of blood we are led to…

A Cross of Good

“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father—to Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5b-6)

Think of it! First “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…”, last, on the cross, a stranger, seatless, was led. The Son of God has no place to call His own; but the soldiers provide Him a place. Even His grave is borrowed. Yet the story has a happy ending—and not only the resurrection of Jesus, as happy as that. Equally happy, we get a throne that is rightfully Jesus’—and entire kingdom, no less! He makes us “priests to serve” and, daunting though that may seem He provides the power for it. As the hymns also sang:

But they, whom sin has wounded sore, find healing in the wounds He bore…

But all who would from sin be free look to His cross for victory…

But each of us, though dead in sin, through Him eternal life may win.

WIN you say? You bet. We are winners. We have won! The word for victory in the Greek is Nike—nikao! Victory! Not “Just do it,” but “He did it”—for us! From a cross of wood to a cross of blood to a cross of good.

Rabbis taught that God had two thrones, one of mercy (not getting what we deserve) and one of grace (getting what we don't deserve). Some teachers used to use dunce’s chair in classrooms, or of a time out, although the former is no longer, I believe. (have a chair in the middle of the sanctuary) Let me ask you in which chair|throne would like be seated? . Which one does God sit in now? Yes! Both, although Jesus is now in the dunce's chair, so to speak, for us. Ah, grace! Ah, goodness! Ah, mercy! God gets off the throne so we can rule for and through Him!

The world thrones are beautifully decorated and adorned, but of more value is the throne of Christ—His Cross. That wooden cross, the bloody cross and the good cross for us. The cross details for us the awesome love of God. God loves you now and always. That LOVE is evident by the THRONE of His Son—the Cross of Calvary. Amen.

Now the peace…

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