Summary: A Good Friday sermon
READ: JOHN 19:14-16
TEXT: “We have no king but Caesar” (VERSE 15B)
“Good Friday”. Have you ever thought about the irony of that? “GOOD Friday”. Have you ever been tempted to think that perhaps another name for the day might be more appropriate? Perhaps:“Solemn Friday”, or “Dark Friday”. Or what about: “Shameful Friday”. Ever crossed your mind?
I’ll come back to talk about that in just a little while, but first let’s have a look at these verses that I read to you a moment ago.
At this point of the proceedings on that first “Good Friday”, Jesus had already been interrogated by the Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, who then sent Him before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who in turn (finding no fault in him), then sent him to the local puppet-king Herod, who (not wanting to be the one to make the decision), returned him AGAIN to Pilate. Jesus had been kept awake all night, examined and cross-examined, already brutally flogged, mocked, and “crowned” with cruel thorns. By the time we come to these verses, He must have been in exhausted agony. Pilate was obviously struggling to know what to do, and the angry mob (antagonized by their religious leaders), were reaching fever pitch in their calls for Jesus’ death. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The atmosphere was charged with a blood lust.
Finally, with mock concern and taunting, Pilate asked: “Shall I crucify your King?” In His proud “conquerors” mind he’s thinking how this bloodied and helpless prisoner is the only king these Jews are ever likely to have, but he doesn’t realise the truth of his words — he’s speaking better than he knows. The long-awaited king — the Messiah foretold through centuries of prophecy — stood before them ... and they did not recognize Him. “Shall I crucify your King?”
And then comes the stunning statement. Surely the crowd must be out of their minds with rage now, because listen to their shocking words — from the lips of their religious leaders, no less ...
“We have no king but Caesar!”
Let me just pause there, for you to consider the gravity of what they have just said: “We have no king but Caesar”.
I want to draw three (3) things to your attention this morning, about that wretched statement which they made as they sold out the Son of God.
1. This declaration constitutes the final rejection of Jesus Christ by the Jews.
You might miss it quite easily because of the pace of the account — the noise of the throng — but this is a DEFINING MOMENT.
Here is the SEED of Israel’s blindness right down to the present day. The Apostle Paul wrote, in 2 CORINTHIANS 3:14 ... “For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ”. To this very day, when the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah are read in Jewish synagogues, there is no comprehension of the glorious way in which God has fulfilled it — and is fulfilling it — in the earth today. The mighty plan of God is lost in the haze to them — there’s a veil over their eyes. Why? Because they “MISSED the day of their visitation”. Jesus came, and God attested Him before their very eyes and ears with His own voice from Heaven, and with signs and wonders and authoritative teaching — and they rejected Him. The Light of the World came and shone before them — but sinful men prefer the darkness — and so they disowned Him, and let the haze of confusion and uncertainty descend and cover their minds once more.
Thank God for every Jew who has come to a saving knowledge of Jesus — the Christ of God, but these are few in comparison with the nation. Israel rejected Him.
As John writes in JOHN 1:11 ... “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him”. God had called Israel out from the nations to be His own special people, but when He came amongst them as Jesus — the promised One — they did not receive Him.
We have no king but Caesar.”
Just a little earlier on this crucifixion day, Pilate had offered them the choice of a prisoner to be freed — Jesus or Barabbas — and they cried, “Not this man, but give us Barabbas”. Now, again, they cry their rejection: “Not the Lord of glory for us, but the demon lord of Rome; not this King of kings, but Tiberius Augustus”.
“We have no king but Caesar” — it constitutes the final rejection of Jesus Christ by the Jews.
2. This declaration is blasphemy against their God.
Let us imagine, for a moment, that Jesus had NOT been the awaited Christ. Even then, they would have no excuse for saying: “We have no king but Caesar”. It is high treason against their God — the True and Living God who had revealed Himself time and time again to the nation in their history.