John 19:1-42 (Good Friday)                                                            

St. John, Galveston 4/15/2022

Rev. Alan Taylor

+ In Nomine Jesu +

“(Pilate) said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So, he delivered him over to them to be crucified.” In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Behold your King (and) we have no king but Caesar.” Therein is the striking contrast between faith and unbelief, between light and darkness, between good and evil, indeed, between life and death. Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the ruler of both heaven and earth. As the Apostle Paul says in one of his letters to the Church, “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Jesus rules over and provides for all people. The very air you breathe is a gift from He that gives you life. The breath of the Spirit that was breathed into you at Holy Baptism, gave you yet another life, a life in the presence of the One who loved you unto death, even death on a cross. “Behold your King.”

But, “we have no king but Caesar,” said many of those who gazed up at Jesus as He hung from the cross that day. “He’s not my King (they said)!” Why, look at Him! Do you see Him!? He’s bleeding and dying! He’s had a crown of thorns shoved down onto His head! People beat Him and mocked Him! He’s been stripped of His clothing! He’s naked, for God’s sake! He’s not my King! “We have no king but Caesar!” 

As distant as that scene may seem to us, perhaps to you, the fact is, it plays out in the hearts and minds of people each and every day, even today. “Behold your King.” Someone asked me last recently why God would allow this pandemic, that we’re suffering through right now, to disrupt the lives of so many people, even taking the lives of some? Is this your King? Is this how He rules His people? By all rights, it would seem that He is either feeble, or, uncaring. Is this your King? Or, is Caesar the mightier king? 

The truth is, sometimes what we see in the world around us seems to defy what we believe about God. It sometimes even seems to defy the very existence of God. When the person asked me the question about this pandemic and why God has allowed it, I responded by trying to help them come to a reliable and comforting understanding of God, one that remains through all of the trials and turmoil of life. “Behold your King.” This is what you know about God! This is who He is! He takes sin and death upon Himself in order to give you righteousness and life! He dies for the sins of the world, including, of course, your sins and mine. He takes the mocking and the abuse of those He comes to save, and He does it willingly and humbly.  

It’s true, what we see in the world around us doesn’t always reconcile with what we know about God, about our King. I suppose the crucial question is, what do we do when that happens? Well, we would do well first of all to not try to answer the unanswerable, but instead, to flee in haste to the undeniable and unchangeable truth of God which is found in His Word and in His blessed sacraments.

The question is now, and always will be, what do you know and believe about God? What is He like? Luther once said, “I know of no God, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified!” Do you get what he means by that statement? To contemplate God, to try to understand Him, or, to know what He is like apart from the cross is a maddening exercise in unbelief and ultimately in futility. 

Do you want to know who God is and what He’s like? Then, “Behold your King!” He’s in His word and the sacraments. Look at Him! Do you see Him!? He’s bleeding and dying! He’s had a crown of thorns shoved down onto His head! People beat Him and mocked Him! He’s been stripped of His clothing! He’s naked, for God’s sake! It was St. Paul who summarized the ultimate conclusion of the theology of the cross so succinctly in his letter to the Church at Rome. He wrote, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Do you want to know who God is and what He’s like? Look to the cross, to Jesus, your King.

Indeed,

“Here we have a firm foundation,

Here the refuge of the lost:

Christ, the Rock of our salvation,

Is the name of which we boast;

Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,

Sacrifice to cancel guilt!

None shall ever be confounded

Who on Him their hope have built.” 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +