He is the King!

There were four insults thrown at Jesus while He was on the cross. 

These four insults were the truth.

 In their insults, Jesus’ tormentors preached the gospel and gave a message of hope to those of us who are willing to hear it.

 I must first set the stage. It was not just the insults that Jesus endured. His suffering was for our salvation. Therefore, all the sins of the world were heaped upon Him.

 Look at how this process began. In humility and as a true servant seeking the best for his disciples, Jesus washed the disciples feet. Then thy sat down for what we know as the last supper.

The apostle John was sitting next to Jesus and this is what he records of one of the events at that table: Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” (Betrayal is one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship. Jesus is sitting with those whom He has spent almost every waking minute for 3 years. He was troubled and it showed. John says that Jesus “was deeply troubled.“)

 John continues: The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. The disciples are shocked. They cannot imagine anyone of their number doing such a thing.

John continues: The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.”

And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him.

Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”

None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night. (John 13:21-30, NIV)

 The sins and suffering of humanity were heaping up on the shoulders of Jesus.

This was an emotionally unsettling evening for the disciples, but for Jesus the suffering was only beginning. 

After the meal we have the account of Jesus taking time to pray just before His arrest.

 This time we will read the account as it was recorded by Matthew. Matthew records: Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”

He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Please note that Jesus in His own word said, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”)

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn't you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”

When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn't keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” (Matt. 26:36-45, NIV)

 I have taken you to these passages because I want us to reflect on how difficult this was for Jesus. Luke, the doctor, tells us that His anguish was so great He sweat drops of blood. After this He was arrested. His friends and followers deserted Him. There was a shameful mockery of a trial, a trial in form but not following the rules. After being denied justice and condemned to die having done nothing wrong, He was hung on a cross.

 Let’s review. He was betrayed. He was distressed and in anguish. He was falsely accused and tried in an illegal court and condemned to die in the most painful way that could be devised. Then while He was hanging on the cross insults were hurled at Him, insults that proclaimed the truth of the gospel. 

We, humanity, were throwing back at Him the very work that He was accomplishing. The meaning of the cross was what was used as insults. How profane and yet magnificent in the same moment; Profane that men should so abuse such a great gift, magnificent that God should show such love and patience toward us.

 Let’s read Matthew 27:39-44: Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Their jeers and taunts were cutting and hurt, and I want us to realize that they were throwing the truth back at Jesus. In these insults, those that spoke proclaimed the truth of the gospel. The very message of the cross was contained in their words.

Jesus had told them that they would destroy the temple and that He would raise it back up in three days. They were blind and did not realize that Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body. Jesus had taught during His ministry that He was ushering in a day when God’s worshipers would not worship at a geographical temple but that they would worship in spirit and in truth. This taunt was an attack on Jesus as the way to the Father. They themselves pointed out the truth that Jesus is now the way to worship the Father. There is no longer a temple, because Jesus and His body is the temple.

Next they jeered at Him and said, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” They had heard Jesus say that He was the long awaited Messiah, the anointed one of God. They were rejecting the truth that Jesus was the hope of Israel, the fulfillment of God’s promises and the very Son of God. It was the truth, and He endured them challenging Him to prove it. As the Son of God, He could have finished them all with a mere word, and yet in His anguish and suffering he endured their insults. They proclaimed in their insult the truth that they will one day confess on bended knee, that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the anointed one of God.

And still they dug the hole a little deeper by proclaiming another truth as if it were an insult. This one was hurled by the leaders of the people. As the representatives of the nation, their words carry special significance. This is what they said, ““He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” They did not know what they were saying. Jesus had told them He came to seek and save the lost. Jesus had told them that it was the sick that needed a doctor and that is why they did not see their need, and here they are confessing in the form of an insult that they understood that He was a Savior to those in need. Jesus said in John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” In their insult, the leaders proclaimed this very truth.

Finally, with one last insult they completed the gospel. Here is what they said, “He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.” In their roles as representative heads of the nation they acknowledge the truth that is the hope of nations. He is the King.

We look to governments for justice and the solution of social issues, and government owes it to us. However, like the leaders of Jesus’ day, our leaders are human and sinful just like us. We hope and wait for the King, just like they did in that day. When He comes to take his throne perfect justice will reign and there will not be social problems. They were waiting for a King but in their blindness they were insulting the very one in whom they professed to hope.

 Jesus endured the shame, the suffering, the injustice and the insults because he was and is exactly what they said.

He is the temple.

He is the Son of God.

He is the Savior.

He is the King.

We have a choice. We can add our voice to those mocking by simply denying that Jesus all these things. Or, we can acknowledge who He is and invite Him to be our Savior Lord and King.

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