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Sermon for Quinquagesima

by Rev. Brian Hamer ~ January 30th, 2008

Sermon on St. Luke 18:31-34 [35-43]

[Jesus’ Third Passion Prediction]

Quinquagesima Sunday

+ Jesu Juva +

Today’s gospel lesson includes Jesus’ third Passion Prediction, what some call His “Passion Sermon.” Three times in Luke’s gospel Jesus tells the disciples what will happen to Him in Jerusalem. And so, taking the twelve aside, He said to them, “Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” Jerusalem, the city of peace, is the place where salvation will be accomplished. And it all revolves around the Son of Man, Jesus’ favorite self-designation as the One who was born of the Virgin Mary, taking His manhood into the Godhead to bring us salvation. And all that was written by the prophets of old will be fulfilled in Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. The passion verbs or action words in this gospel lesson–mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon, flogged, killed, and raised–will help us unfold the riches of the passion prediction on this fiftieth day before Easter Sunday.

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be mocked. The word “to mock” means to ridicule or make fun of in word and deed. In St. Luke’s Passion narrative, those holding Jesus in custody mocked Him as they beat Him (22:63). After Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, “Herod with his soldiers treated [Jesus] with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate” (23:11). And even on the cross, the soldiers mocked Jesus, offered Him sour wine, and said, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself” (23:37). So to mock Jesus is to blaspheme Him, to hold Him in derision, yes, to laugh Him off the playground (so to speak) for claiming to be a king. See, Dearly Beloved, how He was mocked for you and for your salvation! He was beaten by the soldiers, that you might escape the beating that you by your sins have deserved. He was dressed in splendid clothing in jest, that you might be dressed in the splendid robe of His righteousness in baptism. He was taunted as a king, that you might share His kingship by faith in the day that He lords His death and resurrection over all creation.

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be shamefully treated. The word translated as “shamefully treated” means to treat in an arrogant or spiteful manner; to mistreat; to scoff at or to insult. Here are the sins of the tongues of the unbelievers in Jesus’ passion. Since their hearts are not in Christ, their tongues are not directed to worship and praise the Messiah, but rather to ridicule and scorn Him. After Jesus was nailed to the cross, “the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” See, Dearly Beloved, how He was shamefully treated for you and for your salvation! He was the object of scorn that you might be the object of God’s love in Christ. He was worshiped in scorn, with feigned praise, that you might join with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven to worship Him in Spirit and truth. He was called “cursed,” for cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, that you might be called “blessed,” for you are blessed with forgiveness and salvation from Him who was shamefully treated in your place.

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be spit upon. To spit on or at someone was a great insult, both then and now. Think, for instance, of star athletes who receive large penalties (not to mention the loss of respect and endorsements) for spitting on another athlete. St. Luke uses the word only here, but St. Matthew uses this same word in His passion narrative. When Jesus claimed to be God before Caiaphas, the high priest tore his robes and accused Jesus of blasphemy. The other religious leaders followed suit and spit in Jesus’ face, a sign of rejection by the leaders, scorn by the community, and even a death wish for the accused. “He hid not His face from shame and spitting.” See, Dearly Beloved, how He was spit upon for you and for your salvation! We are the ones who, by our sins, deserved to be spit upon by God, cast out of the church, and left for dead. But Christ was spit upon by the religious leaders that you might be smiled upon by God the Father. He was accused of blasphemy, violating the power of God, that you might claim all the gifts of God by faith: forgiveness, life, and salvation. He was put to shame that you might pray with the Psalmist, “let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Thy righteousness.”

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be flogged. The word “flog” here means to whip or scourge, usually referring to the 39 lashes that was given as a severe punishment for criminals or to those condemned to death. Jesus’ flogging fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, “By His stripes we are healed.” The 39 lashes, even more so than Jesus’ mocking, shameful treatment, and being spit upon, point directly to the cross. One might be mocked and shamefully treated without being killed. But the One who is flogged is on His way to the cross, just as it is written by the prophet, “He gave His back to the smiters and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.” See, Dearly Beloved, how He was flogged for you and for your salvation! He endured the 39 lashes that you yourself deserved that you, the wounded sinner, might receive the healing balm of forgiveness. His appearance was marred beyond human semblance that you might appear glorious and righteous before God’s throne. He sprinkled many nations with His own blood, that you might drink of His blood from the holy chalice and live forever.

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be killed. Here is a true “Good Friday verb,” so to speak, that takes Jesus to the lowest depths of His humiliation and the to the reason He was born of the Virgin Mary. The Son of Man took on human flesh and blood that He might put that flesh and blood on the cross and die under the crushing weight of our sins. Again, from the prophet Isaiah, “He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors” (Is 53:12) As one Good Friday hymn puts it, “Lo! God is dead.” The deepest mystery and the most profound reality that ever occurred in this world of ours: God Himself died and was buried. See, Dearly Beloved, how God was killed for you and for your salvation! He died to make your death a mere slumber, a step toward your own resurrection. Jesus died. We will merely “fall asleep.” He went into His tomb with your sins on His shoulders, that you might enter your own grave without fear. In short, He died your death, so you shall not die eternally, but live forever in the joys of Easter morning.

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be raised from the dead. As sure as Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son at Nain, and Lazarus were raised from the dead by Jesus, so Jesus Himself will triumphantly return from the dead because death cannot hold Him. God has triumphed over sin and death, so He cannot remain in the tomb. See, Dearly Beloved, how He rose from the dead for you and for your salvation! He rose from the dead that you, though you will die, will also rise from the dead on the last day. He rose from the dead that you might come to church to receive all the gifts of His resurrection: baptism, preaching, and the Lord’s Supper; forgiveness, life, and salvation. He rose from the dead as the first fruits of them that sleep, the first fruit to rise up from the ground, so that the fruit of your own resurrection, and of those who have died before you in the faith, might rise from the dead as the resurrection of the body draws us toward the life everlasting.

For now, the disciples “understood none of these things. This Passion Prediction was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” However, afer the resurrection, the Emmaus disciples will hear another Passion Sermon from Jesus on Easter Sunday afternoon, and then their eyes will be opened to understand the cross in light of the resurrection. After hearing Jesus’ preach on the OT and breaking bread with Him at Emmaus, “[the disciples’] eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” So it is for us! On this Quinquagesima Sunday, the fiftieth day before Easter Sunday, Jesus’ Passion Sermon prepares us to receive ashes on our forehead this coming Wednesday night, to follow Jesus through the forty weekdays of Lent, to “Go to dark Gethsemane,” and ultimately to pray, “Grant a constant blessing and grant a Christian death.” And in the brilliance of Easter Sunday, the joyful proclamation that “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” and the celebration of the Easter Feast of His true body and blood, the Passion Sermon will be fulfilled in our Jerusalem, the church. You, the faithful disciples, will see it by faith. And when you see it, you will glorify God. INJ. Amen.

Rev. Brian Hamer

Redeemer Lutheran Church

Bayside, NY

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