Sermon: “Jesus Mocked”

 

Text:  Mark 15:16-20

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

Our Gospel lesson this morning takes us back to a very sad time in history. In fact, in all of history there has not been a day which held such sorrow. This scene, in particular, is worthy of special attention because of its horror. In it we see our Savior beaten and spit upon. In other accounts we read of Him being whipped and tormented. He could have saved Himself, but, in obedience He remains silent, ready to undertake what He must to save the world.

Yet, I believe, to Jesus, there is still something much more hurtful happening, something that we often tend to overlook, the mocking he endured through it all. They deride Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” in mocking tones all the while unaware that He is not just King of the Jews, but the King of all.

We know enough about Jesus to know that, even as they mocked Him He was praying for their souls. Even as they beat Him and spit upon Him he was pleading with His Father to forgive them.

This scene is heart breaking, not only because of the treatment of Christ, but because of His tormentors’ failure to see Jesus for who He was. Had they believed, they would be worshipping Him instead of mocking Him. Had they seen clearly, their cruel taunts would have been replaced by Hosannas.

But, as it was, they were ignorant to the truth. They were simply following orders and having a little fun in the process. If they had only known. If Christ would have only shown them His radiance. Yet, He refused to fight it. Even as they shouted their curses, He set His eyes like flint upon the cross. He had the authority to call down legends of angels to save Him but He remained faithful to His calling.

He was silent because His love for us overwhelmed any punishment He must endure to save us. He had been born for such a purpose and His goal was to win salvation for all of mankind. He had the choice between saving Himself and saving us and He picked the path of love. In verse 29, He will be mocked again, this time by the crowd, telling Him to prove Himself to be the very Son of God by saving Himself but they had His intent completely wrong. Instead He endured scorn so that He could give, even the ones who beat Him and mocked Him, a chance to be saved.

It’s hard to fathom that kind of love, especially knowing how little we deserve it. Knowing how horrible the mockery was, as well as His physical torture, gives a clear picture to the lengths our Savior will go to rescue us from sin and death. It also reinforces how much we owe Him in return.

Yet, it’s so easy to hear the story every year and glaze over just how horrible it was. We thank Him for saving us but we fail to study the distance Christ has gone and is willing to go, to fulfill His Father’s promise of everlasting peace.

In fact, even today, the mocking of Christ lives on. We are all in agreement that the mocking of Christ was beyond horrible, yet we see it even today and we fail, in our sin, to recognize it. Mockery is doing or saying one thing but meaning another. They shouted, “Hail, King of the Jews!” but they saw Him as no more than a common criminal. They knelt at His feet in imitation subservience while believing He was no more than a pathetic prisoner. We imagine the scene and our hearts break, yet in our own ways, we allow the mocking to continue.

Every time we limit His power we mock Him as if He were a mortal being. Every time we fail to come to Him in our struggles we mock Him as one who is unable to help us. Every time we live our worldly lives of sin, we mock His Words of spiritual truth.

On one side of our mouths we say Jesus is Lord but on the other we support our ungodly values. We claim to believe Scripture like Acts 2:36 which says, “Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified!” Yet we don’t show this faith by how we live our lives.

We hear the words of 1st Corinthians 8:6, “..For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist,” but we often trust more in the gods of our own making.  We hear Jesus call Himself, “Lord of the Sabbath,” but we fail to comprehend what that means.

Christians believe that Jesus is Lord and will quickly say “amen” to that. But we need to remember that Lord is not just an empty title – it’s a declaration of who Jesus is. He is Lord over all, the CEO of the universe, the ruler of our lives. When we declare “Jesus is Lord” while simultaneously wanting to run our own lives, we mock Christ to His face.

He is not our advisor, our side kick or even our co-pilot. He is our omnipotent God in whom nothing is impossible. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the creator of the universe and master over His handiwork. He is forever faithful and true and we all owe Him every part of our complicated lives. Mockery is meaning one thing but saying another. If we say Jesus is Lord yet live our lives as if that is not true, then we mock Him as horribly as the Romans did that sad, sad day so long ago.

Jesus Christ came to be our Savior from sin and death, things we had no hope of overcoming on our own. It’s not merely that we are forgiven of our sins but, because of His act of grace, sin no longer has any hold over us. Through His gift of unfathomable love, we no longer must face the consequences of our wickedness. We should relish all He has given us, yet we act as though we’re content with sin because it allows us to remain in the muck and mire of worldliness.

Yes, If we’re to be honest, the soldiers and the crowds were not the only one’s who have chosen to mock Jesus. Neither are outspoken critics and atheists. Sometimes we mock Jesus too. It’s a very hard thing to admit but it’s true. In fact, every time we have taken the grace of God for granted we have done the same.

I don’t remind you of this to make you feel bad. I do so, so that you may think of how you have unwittingly fallen in the devil’s trap. I don’t want you to leave here today beating your breasts in your depravity, I want you to make a change in your lives as I intend to do with my own.

That is why we need constant reminders of just what we have been delivered from, namely our own sinful nature that constantly challenges our relationship with Christ. Even though we have been saved through Christ on the cross and our faith in Him, we must begin to understand that we are being saved daily through His blood.

Hebrews 10:12-15 reads, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting for that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who were being sanctified.” 

Daily we are being sanctified. Even after all of our mocking, Christ has chosen to be in relationship with us. Even after our thoughtlessness He has chosen to work His Spirit in us daily so that we might be made holy.

Even Paul struggled with this, we read of His struggles in Romans 6 and 7. After exploring His own sinful nature and God’s redemption through Jesus Christ regardless, He revels in the forgiveness He has received. After confessing His own shortcomings and ongoing battle against sin, He comes to understand His utter dependence on Christ. He says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I’m sure we all get it and have experienced it. We are all worthy of saying, “Wretched person that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

I hope forever that we will read of the mocking of Jesus now in a different light then you have before. It’s good to remind ourselves how we fit into that very scene. May it re-awaken our awareness of our own need for Godly grace.

May it remind us that we are associated with the sinners, the mockers, and the scoffers in need of forgiveness and mercy. May it reignite our worship as we echo Paul’s words in Romans 7:25: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Just as Jesus prayed for His tormentors, He also prays for you, Father, forgive them.”

At the very end of his first letter to Timothy, Paul instructs His younger student to, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” In this way I speak to you today to watch yourself. Keep a close watch on the many ways there is to mock our mighty God. Keep a close watch on your words and the meditations of your heart. Consider how you might be mocking the Lord in your own life.

It’s easy to fall into the trap so I urge you to remain faithful in your daily worship. Cling to His Words of truth and strength. Surrender your lives in faithful service to the One who did all He had to do to save you from sin and death. Do not mock the one who can claim to be King of all.

What we saw today in our Gospel lesson was hard to look at, Jesus being so cruelly mocked but it’s a serious accusation for us as well. In what ways do you mock Jesus? Choose today to commit your lives to praising and not mocking. Live your lives in constant adoration and not in limited faithfulness. The one who is and who is to come wants you to trust in Him with your very lives. Show Him you want the same. Amen.

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