Once Upon a Time

December 20, 2015

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor

John 18:33-19:22

In amazement, celebration and surrender, we declare today who Jesus is. He is “the Christ,” which means the anointed King.

To celebrate Christmas is to recognize the fact that Jesus was born a King.  Matthew 1 points out Jesus’ royal heritage through David’s line. The Magi, seeking the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1), fell down and worshiped Jesus at His birth.  Many of our own traditional Christmas carols sing the praises of the baby Jesus and proclaim Him as King.

To understand why we worship the babe in a manger, we must go to a place in Scripture where Jesus actually wore a crown, a place where His kingship was ridiculed but also affirmed.

During the trial and mockery of Jesus before Pilate, and even at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (John 18:33-19:22), we see how the theme of Jesus’ kingship shows up.

Three Ways the Cross Validates Jesus’ Kingship:   John 18:33-19:22

 1.  Their words show that Jesus is a king who will receive praise.

The irony is that nothing could be more appropriate than the words spoken of Jesus by mockers: Soldiers call Him “King of the Jews,” dressing Him in royal purple with a crown of thorns (John 19:2). Jews cry out for the release of Barabbas (John 18:40), who committed the very crimes of insurrection and rebellion that Jesus was accused of.  The words of Jesus, the Son of God, are clear:  “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and He says to Pilate, “You are right in saying I am a king” (John 18:37).

One day, all will see that Jesus’ words and others’ sarcastic comments in Jesus’ trial about His royalty and kingship are true.  In fact, Paul declares in Philippians 2:10 that “in the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

2.  The crown shows that Jesus Christ is the king who repairs Creation.

The crown of thorns (John 19:2) was meant to ridicule Jesus; it was a victor’s wreath in mocking imitation of Caesar.

As with their words, nothing could be more inappropriate. Jesus’ purposes are far beyond others’ ridicule. His kingly plan from the beginning of the world is to redeem the world from the curse of sin. After Adam and Eve’s sin of disobedience, God cursed mankind with pain and enmity, and all the earth with “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3).

Through the Cross, Jesus Christ redeems not only us, but ultimately all creation as well.  In Romans 8:21, Paul speaks of the frustration of creation and the “hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God.”  Jesus’ kingly crown of thorns foretells this.

We might have great concern over the condition of our planet and work to improve it, but as sinful persons who simply do not restrain themselves, there is no hope for mankind alone to fix nature.  All of creation needs Jesus the King to restore its brokenness, as pictured to us through the crown of thorns.  The babe in the manger will renew the earth at His return.

3. The placard shows that Jesus Christ is the king who paid our debt.

The placard, placed above Jesus’ head on the Cross, was used to post a criminal’s crime and thus humiliate the person. Yet in John 19:19-22, the Jews challenged Jesus’ placard words, “The King of the Jews,” posted permanently by Pilate’s command, because it was a not a claim but a direct statement, indicating no crime.  This person, Jesus, was dying for no sin of His own.

Why did Jesus actually die?  Paul answers this question in Colossians 2:13-15 where he says that we all owe significant debt for our sins and sinful nature.  Jesus died to take “it away, nailing it to the cross…disarming the powers and authorities…and triumphing over them by the cross.”  God took our crimes and applied them to Jesus so that we could live in full forgiveness and fellowship with God.

We have all fallen short.  Do we live with our IOU for debt nailed to the cross?

Trying to do it all ourselves produces a joyless existence.  Are we living as Christians with nothing to fear and nothing to prove, being transformed daily by the king who paid all our debt?

 

Prayer:   Thank you, Jesus, for canceling the consequences of our shortcomings and imperfect natures when we turn to You in faith. Give us the grace to keep laying our cares, our fears, our sin on the Cross of Jesus.  Praise at Christmas to the babe in the manger, the majestic and loving King who redeems us and all our world.