Yixing Teapots

Register

Log in

Topics

Archives

Sermon for Quinquagesima

by Rev. Brian Hamer ~ March 7th, 2011

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

Quinquagesima Sunday

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. – St. Luke 18:31 The verbs are where the action is. The verbs help us tell a story, propel the action forward, and lend life to a narrative. Consider, for instance, the verbs in the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed: [Jesus] was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered . . . crucified, died, and was buried. Then He descended, rose again, etc. The verbs tell us what Christ allowed Himself to suffer (the state of humiliation) and how He rose victorious over death and the grave (the state of exaltation). The first part of today’s Gospel lesson follows a similar pattern. Six “passion verbs” show how everything that is written about the Son of Man in the prophets will be accomplished: He will be mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon, flogged, killed, and raised from the dead.

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 at His claim to be the King of all creation. 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 yourselves have deserved by your fault, by your own fault, by your own most grievous fault. He was dressed in royal clothing in jest, that you might be dressed in the splendid robe of His righteousness in baptism – not in mockery, but in reality. He was taunted as a king, that you might share His Kingship, sit with Him on His throne, and stand before God the Father as if you were the very Son of God Himself: ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven.

Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be shamefully treated. To “shamefully treat” means to treat in an arrogant or spiteful manner, to scoff, or to insult. This word describes the sins of the tongues of the unbelievers in Jesus’ passion. Since their hearts were not in Christ, their tongues were not directed toward the worship and praise of the Messiah, but rather toward ridicule and scorn. 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 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 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 the fights and arrests in our crowded city that start with an insult, followed by spitting on someone, and then a brawl. St. Luke uses the word “spit upon” 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. As the prophet said, “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. 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 for a Roman citizen (more lashes for non-Romans) 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 scourging of Christ, even more so than His 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 how He was flogged for you and for your salvation! He endured the 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, robed in the splendor of Jesus’ own righteousness. 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” 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, “O sorrow dread!  God’s Son is dead!” (TLH 167.2) 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 rise from the dead. Here we have a shift from a string of passive verbs to one active verb. The verbs so far – mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon, flogged, and killed – are passive, i.e., things that were done to Jesus in His state of humiliation. But this last verb, to rise, is active – it tells us what Jesus did by His own power. He is God and He cannot remain in the tomb. He must rise again on the third day and proclaim the victory of the cross to all the world. See 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.

“Behold! We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” Every action that was foretold by the prophets about the Son of Man – to be mocked, shamefully treated, spit upon, flogged, killed, and to rise from the dead – is fulfilled in Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection, just as we confess it in the Apostles’ Creed. How fitting that, in one early musical setting of the Creed, the Creed is introduced and concluded with the following words: “Jesus, then passing through their midst.” Jesus is passing through our midst this Lent as we ponder His holy Passion, meditate on the “Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” and celebrate His resurrection fifty days from today. Yes, He is passing through our midst this coming Easter with wounded hands outstretched to say, “Peace be with you.” + INJ + Amen.

Rev. Brian Hamer

Redeemer Lutheran Church, Bayside, NY

Leave a Reply