Summary: This sermon was written to help us celebrate the Crucified Christ as our King.
Luke 23:35-43 (NIV) The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
My dear friends in Christ Jesus, our Savior,
Do we need a king? It would almost seem to go against the way we have been raised to be in need of a king. After all, we are independent, we are free, we can do as we please. We have been raised to pursue life, liberty and happiness. It would hardly seem like having a king over us would allow us to pursue those things.
Do we need a king? It would seem to go against our very nature to have a king ruling over us, for our spirits want to be free to do as they please. We may view service to a king as restrictive of our freedom to live as we want.
But what is the end result of pursuing happiness on our own? What is the end result if we live to serve ourselves? Service to self leads only to eternal separation from the King of all creation.
We need a king to rescue us from this service to self that leads only to separation and destruction. We need a king to fight for us and defeat enemies that we, on our own, have no power to defeat. We need a king that will bring us true happiness and lasting freedom. We need a king that brings peace to these rebellious hearts of ours.
THIS IS THE KING
1. This is the One chosen by God
2. This is my King
3. This is the King who remembers us in mercy
When we think of a mighty king, in our mind’s eye, we see this king ruling on an elegant throne in glory and majesty. When we think of a victorious king, we think of a valiant warrior who goes to fight our battles for us, destroying our enemies and winning great victories on our behalf. When we think of this victorious, mighty, glorious king, do we think of Jesus on the cross?
When we see Jesus here on the cross, it would seem that he is neither victorious nor mighty nor glorious. Instead, we see Jesus here crucified, mocked and rejected. Who is this Jesus? This Jesus has been judged guilty by the Roman government and is given a punishment that no Roman citizen was ever to endure. No, this was the punishment that was reserved for rebellious slaves. It was a cruel punishment that brought a slow and agonizing death. How can this be the King?
When we see Jesus here on the cross, we see him mocked and ridiculed by the soldiers who had pierced his holy body with nails. “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” The mighty Roman government was merely putting to death one of its enemies, an enemy that could not even save himself, much less anyone else. How can this be the King?
When we see Jesus here on the cross, we see the written notice over his head, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Not that the Jewish leaders really liked this title. They didn’t want their nation and their people shamed in this way, yet the notice stood as Pontius Pilate had written it. The Jewish rulers sneered at him and said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Hours earlier, when he was on trial in font of the Sanhedrin, they said to Jesus, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” Even though they had heard his teaching and seen his miracles, even though he was the fulfillment of every Old Testament prophecy concerning the Christ, they would not believe that Jesus was the Christ. “If I tell you,” Jesus said, “you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” Then these same leaders all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” Jesus replied, “You are right in saying I am.” Now what would come of his claim that he is the Son of God? These rulers had seen to it that this man was executed in the most horrendous fashion because of his claim. If he can’t even save himself, how can he be the One that God had chosen to redeem the world? How can this be the King?