Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermon / Homily on John 19:15

Christ - and Him Crucified (John 19:15)

by Ralph Bouma

But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar (John 19:15).

Nothing but the blood of Christ could cause atoning love to be shed on us, so we could be reconciled to God the Father. God had so decreed - and so the Jews demanded. They demanded the crucifixion of Christ. They demanded that His blood be shed.

The decree of the Father was from a tender heart of love to redeem us from the just demands of the law. The demands of the Jews were from a barbarous heart of cruelty. Crucifixion was the most torturous death they could contrive. It was reserved for the most hardened criminals or for slaves.

Notice John 19:5-6: "Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man -in an attempt to move their hearts with some sympathy after repeatedly declaring Him innocent-! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him." Earlier in the chapter we see that Pilate had scourged Jesus, hoping to satisfy the Jews' thirst for His blood and thereby to spare His life. They stretched Him with ropes and struck Him with whips to the extent that few lived through it. Pilate had boasted that he had power to crucify or release Jesus, yet he had no power to do either because God's decree would be satisfied with nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The Spirit and character of Christ has been abhorred ever since the fall of man. It is abhorred until the heart is changed by grace. See what was prophesied in this regard in Isaiah 53:3: "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Nothing about the person and character of Jesus is attractive to a person outside of grace.

The rejection of Christ by the Jewish nation fulfilled that which was prophesied in Isaiah 49:7: "Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee." The old nature of man despises the Spirit of Christ. This generated the fierceness of the demands that He be crucified.

Pilate seemed to speak in our text with a mixture of passionate feeling and mockery when he asked, "Shall I crucify your King?" I believe this shows that he was pleading with them and that he was trying to work sympathy in their hearts. For the last time Pilate put the decisive question to the Jews - giving them their final chance to recant, holding them responsible for innocent blood. This comes through in Matthew 27:24-25: "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children." They would be satisfied by nothing but the blood of Christ.

When Israel sought a king the Lord told them by His servant Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:7: "And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." They rejected Christ as their king then and in the crucifixion. They rejected the walk of life, the law of love, that which Christ came to portray, the image and character of the Father.

Before Pilate they showed how they had turned to total infidelity. They rejected the King of kings saying, "We have no king but Caesar." That is the heart of man by nature. So many people want to be saved. They want to go to heaven. They want to escape hell, but do they accept Christ as king? Do they come under His yoke? Do they want to serve Him as king in their hearts? Are they willing to obey the gospel and love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves. This is the religion of today. Many Christian churches profess to be preaching the gospel. They preach that you can accept Jesus, be justified and go to heaven without ever coming under the service of Christ. They want to accept Christ as Saviour but not as king.

In Scripture we read where the people of Samaria were taken away and the king of Assyria brought his people in, and the Lord sent lions among them. Then they told the king that they needed to bring one of the priests so they could learn to know the God of the land. So they brought in a priest, and he taught them the ways of the Lord. However, they feared God and served their own images. We see this today. People fear God with a slavish fear. They desire to escape the consequences of sin, but they have never learned to hate sin itself. Sin is the transgression of the law, the law of love. They want to serve Caesar while they seize on the death of the Son for the inheritance. This is what the Jews in effect were saying: "We have no king but Caesar."

This is the religion of humanism - worshiping the creature more than the Creator. We see God's judgment on our supposedly Christian nation today in Romans 1:28-32: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind -a mind void of good judgment-, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful."

These judgments are the fruit of "no king but Caesar."

Congress showed that it was void of good judgment as it debated whether to impeach President Clinton. They argued over what was true and what was false and what was legally true instead of what was in fact true, over whether that was an impeachable crime or whether that was just his business. What did President Clinton do to harm the country? He destroyed the image of the entire government. He committed high treason against our nation, but Congress was not sure whether he committed a crime. I read that theologians all over the country had come to the conclusion that President Clinton's religion is shallow. He came out of church waving to everyone, holding his Bible, but he does not live by it. He has no king but Caesar.

The chief priests said, "We have no king but Caesar," and bitter indeed is the fruit. Jotham's parable received its tragic fulfillment as we read in Judges 9:15: "And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon." Can you and I put our trust in the shadow of Caesar and not under the shadow of the Almighty? The king in this parable was trusting in his own arm of flesh and not the Lord. When we serve Caesar it destroys the fruit of the church. It destroys Christianity.

Such destruction did come out of serving Caesar. The whole human race that is outside of Christ is still serving under the heavy yoke of sin, instead of the easy yoke of Christ. Look what the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." If we have grace in our hearts it is our chief desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord.

See how all human help has failed - in that government is corrupted. What happens in Washington, D.C., is not new. We read in Isaiah 59:12-13: "For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood." As we can see from what is going on in our own government today - having rejected truth, Caesar's reign of falsehood is the only alternative.

Continuing in verses 14 and 15 we read: "And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment."

Pilate washed his hands before the Jews to demonstrate his innocence, yet see what we read in Luke 23:25: "And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will." We are the person who was released for sedition and murder. We by nature are in the prison of Satan. We by nature deserve to die. We see that Pilate fulfilled so many things that he did not understand.

The Lord's own estimate of Pilate's cowardly act is recorded by the Spirit of prophecy in Psalm 94:20-21: "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood."

We must be ever mindful as we meditate on these things that behind the final decision of this Roman governor was the eternal determinate counsel of the Governor of the Universe that Jesus Christ had to be crucified. We see this in Romans 8:31-33: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Pilate was merely an instrument in the Father's hands.

Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why He could not be set free. When you and I come before the courts of heaven, Satan, the prosecutor, brings the accusations, and he knows all of our sins. We can only enter a guilty plea. Christ the Righteous is our Advocate with the Father, our Judge. He raises His hands and shows the Father our names in His palms. Now, justice demands acquittal. The Father cannot demand payment twice. We stand before God the Father as if we had never sinned.

Why was Christ delivered up to the will of the Jews? We read in Romans 4:25 to 5:2: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

After our Lord Jesus was delivered unto the will of the chief priests and the Jews, we read in John 19:16: "Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away." Notice again that Jesus was led, not driven nor dragged. He made no resistance, as was prophesied in Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."

As they led our Saviour from Gabbatha directly to Golgotha, that is, from the place of judgment directly to the place of execution, there were no 20 years of appeals to higher courts as is common today. We read in John 19:17-18: "And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst."

Our Saviour's "bearing His cross" has been marvelously typified in Genesis 22:6-8: "And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."

That same question, "but where is the Lamb?" lingered in the hearts for generations until the appearance of Jesus, the Christ. We read in John 1:29-31: "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." The priests should have understood because the sacrifices they offered were a type of Christ. The priests sacrificed animals on the altar, and they were the ones who sacrificed Christ on the cross.

None of these things were coincidence. Nor are they without meaning. There is great spiritual significance in where Jesus Christ was crucified as we read in Hebrews 13:9-12: "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate."

Every step of the way, the types and shadows of the Old Testament had to be fulfilled as well the prophecy. Look at Leviticus 16:27: "And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung." The Lord Jesus was made a sin offering, and this had to be done outside of the camp, because no sin could be allowed in the camp.

How little did those spiritually blind chief priests and Jews realize they were in fact fulfilling the very types and shadows they had performed for so many generations. We read in Isaiah 53:10: "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand."

This place of a skull, or the kingdom of death, is where Caesar reigns. This is where the deeply sunken world serves sin, and here is where our Father's love brought Him to redeem His bride. For Him to be a full Redeemer He had to have the right to what we tried to steal in paradise, to be equal to God, and He had to come down to where we are serving Caesar by nature. Hebrews 2:9-11 says: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."

Through our Lord's tasting of death for every man, He came to fully know by experience the power of temptation and sin as we see in Hebrews 4:14-16: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." We also have fellowship in His sufferings so we get a little taste of the price He paid for our redemption.

Our Saviour was crucified to bring upon Him the most extreme shame as we see in John 19:18: "Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst." He was counted as the greatest felon, so the greatest felon can find salvation in Him.

All that was written of Him was accomplished in Christ's crucifixion. Isaiah 53:12 says: "Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

This is the Christ that is preached to us as the only hope of being reconciled with our God. Romans 6:6 says: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."

That body of sin must die before there can be peace with God as we see in Romans 6:10-13: "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."

Who is our king? Who do we serve? Do we serve sin, or do we serve Christ?

See Also:

Sermons for Good Friday

Sermon Collection Based on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross

Sermons for Passion Week

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World

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