The Savior Who Was Mocked

Steve Viars March 24, 2007 John 19:1-15

 

- According to the San Francisco Chronicle, June 6, 1944 was “what many historians consider to be the most important day of the 20th century.”

- that date is also known as D-Day, when during World War II the Allied forces hit the beaches and Normandy in a surprise attack to begin to halt the murderous regime of Adolf Hitler.

- I recently had the privilege of reading a book by historian Stephen Ambrose entitled D-Day which is a compilation of first hand stories and reports from the men and women who were part of the invasion.

- it was one of those books that was very difficult to put down...and what especially impacted me was the incredible courage and sacrifice and determination of our armed forces on that day...

- regardless of what you think of war and military solutions...the San Francisco Chronicle is right that modern history was dramatically impacted by these events...no wonder the Scripture says that God has instituted government and entrusted them with the sword to in part, put down evildoers...

- if Adolf Hitler doesn’t fit that description, I’m not sure who does...

- Winston Churchill called the invasion The most difficult and complicated operation ever to take place.

- Joseph Stalin said – The history of war does not know of an undertaking comparable to it for breadth of conception, grandeur of scale, and mastery of execution.

- the general in command, Dwight D. Eisenhower – told his troops – “Let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

- something else that stood out was the age of so many of the participants...we’re talking about young men who were 18, 19, 20 years of age...

- if you were in your mid 20’s you were old, and if you were 30, you were ancient...

- yet they acted with incredible bravery in the face of terrible odds...

- one of those men was Lieutenant Robert Mathias, the leader of the 2nd platoon, E Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, US 82nd Airborne Division.

- their job was to land behind enemy lines and sever communication and transportation lines to prevent the enemy from bringing reinforcements to the beaches...

- here’s what that was like...

At midnight, June 5/6, he was riding in a C-47 Dakota over the English Channel, headed toward the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy.  Two hours later, the plane was over France and started to take some flak from German guns.  At 0227 hours, Lieutenant Mathias saw the red light go one over the open door of the plane, the signal to get ready.

The Germans below were firing furiously at the air armada.  Antiaircraft guns filled the sky with machine gun tracers.  Explosions—green, yellow, red, blue, white—arched through the sky.  The sight was at once awesome (nearly ever paratrooper thought that this was the grandest Fourth of July fireworks display he had ever seen) and terrifying.  For every visible tracer, there were five unseen bullets. 

Mathias has his hands on the outside of the doorway, ready to propel himself into the night the instant the green light went on.  A shell burst just beside him.  Red-hot flak ripped through his reserve chest, knocking him off his feet.  With a mighty effort, he began to pull himself back up.  The green light went on...

When Lieutenant Mathias was wounded from the shell burst and the green light went on, he had enough strength to push himself out of the way so that the men behind him could jump.  Had he done so, the crew of the C-47 could have applied first aid and—perhaps—gotten him back to England in time for a life-saving operation.  Later, every man in his group was certain that Mathias must have had this thought.

Instead, Mathias raised his right arm, called out “Follow me” and leaped into the night.  Whether the shock from the opening parachute, or the shock of hitting the ground, or excessive bleeding from his multiple wounds was the cause, no one knows, but when he was located a half hour or so later, he was still in his chute, dead.  He was the first American officer killed by German fire on D-day...

At the end of the day, nearly 175,000 American, Canadian, and British troops had entered Normandy, either by air or sea, at a cost of some 4900 casualties.

- Writing home to report on all of this was a man from right here in Dana, Indiana, whose articles were treasured by many people in our country at that time...His name was Ernie Pyle...and about this day he wrote...In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front entailed, so that you can know and appreciate forever and be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.

- the most important day of the 20th century...made possible because of the courage, and the sacrifice of men and women...”both dead and alive who did it for you.”

- now let’s take that same concept and apply it to world history...

- because there was an enemy even greater than Adolf Hitler...

- and there was the possibility of not just living in freedom on earth, but in living in freedom forever...

- but that required someone willing to act with incredible courage, and incredible sacrifice...and that person was willing to do it...for you...

- with that in mind, would you open your Bible to John 19? – [page 89 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...]

- this Easter Season we’re thinking about Reaching New Heights in our Love for the Savior...

- so we’ve been studying the Gospel of John chapters 18-21...

- chapter 18 began with the story of Judas, so we organized our thoughts around the concept of The Savior Who Was Betrayed...

- then we read the sad story of Peter, so we thought about The Savior Who Was Denied.

- last week we completed chapter 18, thinking about The Savior Who Was Rejected.

- Johns 19 explains how the wicked treatment of Christ intensifies...and this morning we’d like to focus on verses 1-15---focusing on The Savior Who Was Mocked.

- read 19:1-15

- I think that we would all say that these are very sobering verses indeed...

- let’s spend the rest of our time together this morning organizing this passage around Three descriptions of what our Savior was willing to go through for you.

I. Jesus was Willing to be Physically Abused for You.

- the Bible doesn’t glorify violence and so at times you simply read a very brief summary of a very terrible event...

- that’s what the first verse of chapter 19 does when we read...John 19:1 - Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.

- now you might say, wait a minute...he had just said in verse 38 – “I find no guilt in Him...”, how could he turn around and have him scourged?...

- and the answer is---no one in this situation except the Lord Himself was particularly interested in doing what was ethically right...these people were much more focused on expediency...what do I want and how can I twist the facts to achieve those ends...

- and if someone else has to be falsely accused, or tortured, or abused in the process, so be it...

- it shouldn’t surprise us that a moral relativist who had just asked in the previous chapter “what is truth?”...would end up disregarding truth if it seemed personally and politically expedient to do so...

- now, I realize if you’re new to studying the Bible, you might say...what does the word “scourge” mean?...

A. The Roman scourging.

- this was a beating that involved an instrument of torture with a short wooden handle with numerous long lashes of leather attached to it.  Each leather strip had a sharp piece of glass, metal, bone, or other hard object attached to the end of it. 

- The victim would be stripped of his clothing and tied to a post by his wrists with his hands high enough above the ground to practically lift him off his feet.

- there were usually one or two scourge bearers, or lictors, who took turns beating the victim in a diagonal pattern...

- and the object was to expose the flesh and then tear the muscles and sometimes even damage the internal organs...

- some victims died from the extreme shock during this kind of torture...

- now, I realize that that is not particularly pleasant to think about...and you may know that many church growth experts are telling us not to talk about the details of the sacrifice of Christ because Americans don’t like to think about such things...

- I believe that would be a tragic mistake...

- for one thing, as a pastor I am commanded in Scripture to proclaim the whole counsel of God...

- as soon as a pastor starts picking and choosing what truth is going to be emphasized and what is going to be ignored...it is the same kind of moral relativism exemplified by Pilate...

- then the church becomes some sort of a human organization of social club devoid of all power...and then its all over as far as any effectiveness in carrying out the plan of God...

- now, you might say, why was all of this necessary?...that is a very important question theologically...

B. It was necessary because of the significance of the price that was being paid.

- Jesus was dying for the sin of mankind...

- the more we understand the depth of the problem, the more we can appreciate the significance of the sacrifice...

- we’ve had some very stark reminders of this recently...

- there was the terrible case of Jessica Lunsford...who was kidnapped by a man named John Couey and later buried alive...

- how could a person be so depraved that he would treat a 9 year old girl in such a heinous fashion?...

- then there was the story a few weeks ago right here in Bedford, IN where a man named Eric Johnson took his 8 year old daughter Emily and strapped her in the passenger seat of a single engine plane...

- then he placed a cell phone call to his estranged wife and said...”I’ve got her and you’re not going to get her...”

- in the background Beth Johnson could hear her daughter saying "mommy, come get me...”

- and then Eric Johnson took off in the airplane and purposely crashed it into his mother in law’s house...taking the lives of himself and his daughter...

- if you think Adolf Hitler was a formidable foe...consider the sinfulness of man...

- and I realize that some would say...I want a salvation that does not involve someone enduring such pain/torture...

- I would just respond by saying...that is a very dangerous position to take theologically...because it fails to come to grips with the significance of the problem...

- and of course ultimately we don’t need extreme illustrations like John Couey or Eric Johnson to be reminder of the sinfulness of man...we need look no further than our own hearts...

- and friends, that’s why...

C. Your redemption required:

1. a perfect sacrifice.

- Pilate knew Jesus was innocent...he clearly and repeatedly stated that...

- and the gospel of Matthew adds this curious detail...that just as Pilate is having this series of deliberations, that he receives a note from his wife...

- and you sort of shake your head...what would that be?...”bring home a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk”?...

- Matthew 27:19 - While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”

- and there’s an incredible example of God’s grace, giving Pilate one last opportunity to come to his senses and stop the torture of an innocent man...

2. a divine sacrifice.

- the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God...in other words; it is infinite in nature...

- so there are only three options...

- you, as a finite person, pay an infinite price forever...

- you find another finite person who will pay an infinite price for you forever...[good luck]

- you find an infinite person, someone who has proven Himself to be God, to pay a finite but complete price on your behalf...

- that is why it was crucial for the Jewish leaders to just take the mask off the charade and say in verse 7 --John 19:7 - The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

- that is the closest they came to telling the truth all day...

- He also had to be...

3. a willing sacrifice.

- even if you could find someone who was able...what is the likelihood that He would be willing?...

- thankfully the answer from this text is...very high...

- and just like Ernie Pyle wrote back home to tell his friends and neighbors what D-Day entailed so that they could“know and appreciate forever and be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you”...

- God has not glorified the violence in this or any other passage...in fact it is remarkably downplayed...but He tells us enough...so we will know and appreciate forever and be humbly grateful to Him who did it for you.”

II. Jesus Was Willing to be Ridiculed for You.

- it is amazing to read in verses 2-3 about:

A.  The treatment of the soldiers.

- they make a crown of thorns and they ram it down on his head...

- can you imagine that on top of the pain of the scourging on your head...

- then they find a purple robe and put it on Him...

- and begin mocking Him...Hail King of the Jews...

- and as if that is not enough, they begin striking Him in the face...

- and part of what is amazing here is...

B. Christ’s response.

- He’s not fighting back...

- He’s not lashing out...

- in fact that is part of what amazed Pilate about all of this...undoubtedly he has ruled over hundreds of court cases and the common thread would always be the accused person doing anything he could to deny his guilt and demand fair treatment...

- that’s why Peter would later say...1 Peter 2:22-23 – Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

- and amazingly, 700 years before, this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah said would happen...Isaiah 53:7 - He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

- that the Jewish leaders did not remember this well known passage from the OT and immediately see its significance speaks either to their lack of knowledge of Scripture or their intense hatred of Christ that simply blinded them to the truth before their eyes...

- now you might say, why were these individuals so intent on treating Christ in this fashion?...What was...

C. The source of their ridicule.

- the answer is the theme that is running all through this passage...

- with the crown and the robe, what about Christ’s message were they especially mocking?...

- the notion that He was worthy to be their King...

- that had been Pilate’s question back in chapter 18 verse 33 --John 18:33 - Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

- That was the theme of Christ’s answer in verse 37 -- John 18:37 - Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

- at the end of this text we’re studying, Pilate says...John 19:14 - Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”

- and what was it that the people said?...John 19:15 – So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

- now, please put all of that together in your mind...Jesus said that He was a king of a spiritual kingdom, and that He had come to testify of the truth...

- well, what had He taught about His kingdom, or what it was like to follow Him...

- do you remember the beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount...describing the conditions of the kingdom Christ...compare that to what is unfolding before us...

Matthew 5:3-11 – The Beatitudes

3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 - Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 - Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 – Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

- that was the kind of truth to which He had testified about His kingdom...

- and He had urged them to admit the sinfulness of their ways, and their words, and their hearts...and to repent of that...and then to acknowledge that they needed a Messiah, the Son of God, who would die for their sins and take charge of their lives as their rightful Lord and King...

- and Pilate ignored that message

- and the soldiers mocked that message...

- and the religious leaders led the people to cry out...we have no king...but Caesar...

- here’s what that means...fundamentally speaking...Christianity is all about joyfully and wholeheartedly following and submitting to Jesus Christ as your rightful king...

- not in order to earn your salvation...that was purchased fully and finally at the cross and it is available to all who will repent and believe...

- but as a demonstration that you [in Ernie Pyle’s words] know and appreciate forever and are humbly grateful to Him who died, and did it for you.

- a fascinating illustration of this has crept up in culture in the last week or so...

- Dr. Al Mohler is the president of Southern Seminary in Louisville...

- he is a very thoughtful and well-reasoned Christian apologist and he writes a regular blog dealing with contemporary issues of the day...

- in early March he posted an article entitled Is Your Baby Gay?  What if You Could Know?  What is You Could Do Something About It?

- nobody is seriously saying that gene research is advanced to the place where you could know for sure that a person is genetically predisposed to certain behaviors...

- there are a lot of theories...not a lot of proof...

- but there is some very interesting work being done in rams...and some people suggest that certain sheep may be genetically predisposed to certain kinds of sexual behaviors...and that there could soon be a way of altering that before the animal is born...

- Mohler’s question was...what would a Christian do if that were proven to be true...and should a Christian parent ever take advantage of the testing and/or the treatment?...

- well, people on all sides are flaming him right now...which is often proof that you raised a good question...

- but I think our response would be...

1. Christians are always proponents of good science.

- that is why so many scientific advancements were accomplished by people who knew the Lord and saw their research as a way to glorify God...

2. It would not surprise us one bit if the day came where science was able to demonstrate that certain people have propensities to sin in different ways...

- because a person’s genetics, like everything else about us, are impacted by the curse of sin...

- but of course our world’s answer is...them people ought to do whatever comes naturally...

- so we should not try to change a person who is genetically predisposed to drinking alcohol...

- or we should not try to change a person who is genetically predisposed to a particular kind of sexual behavior...

- that is where we would differ...because we would say that we bring everything there is about us to the King...and we joyfully submit ourselves to His will outlined in His Word...

- so it is not a matter of what comes naturally...it’s a matter of what pleases God...

- so if it were ever determined that there is even some biological sense in which some are more prone to sin in certain ways than others...that is certainly no embarrassment to the faith...

- that’s the point in the preceding verse of the Hebrews passage we quoted earlier...

- Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

- so the message of the Bible is not, do whatever comes naturally...

- the message of the Bible is...do whatever pleases the King...

- and please always keep this in mind...you can only serve Christ as your king if you have already trusted Him as your Savior...

- a significant part of the beauty of the gospel is that by coming to Christ, you no longer are enslaved to your former way of life...you’re now freed to live for Him...that’s why Paul said...

- Romans 6:6-7 – knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

- Jesus was willing to be abused to make that possible, and Jesus was willing to be ridiculed to make that possible...

III. Jesus was Willing to be Scorned for You.

- as this scene escalates, the people begin screaming for the harshest form of punishment imaginable...death by crucifixion...

- John 19:6 – So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify...”

- John 19:15 – So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him...”

- now you might wonder, why was Pilate willing to along with all of this?...

- and what’s the answer?...the fear of man...he would rather allow the murder of an innocent man than stand up to a group of people who were wrong...

- and history explains that a bit further...he had been governor of this region that included Jerusalem for about 4 years...

- and it was a hard place to govern because the Jews did not like Roman occupation...

- but Pilate had made a series of slip ups with the Jews that had actually come to attention of his superiors...and we have recorded documents from Pilate’s “boss” so to speak chiding him for not doing a more careful job of ruling the Jews without offending their religion...

- and now here he is on a feast day...when there are more Jewish persons in Jerusalem than any other day of the year...and they are demanding something that is clearly illegal...

- and so he can either go along and please them, or do the right thing and infuriate them and then be in trouble with his superiors because in their minds he couldn’t handle job...

- John MacArthur summarized it rightly when he said...”He bartered away his eternal soul for temporary job security.”

- contrast that to the Lord...He was willing to endure this because of His love for you, and His desire to follow His Father’s plan...

- in fact, you may remember way back in Matthew 16...one of the times when Jesus clearly told his disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day...

- do you remember what Peter did on that occasion?...the Scripture says that he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him...saying, not so Lord...

- do you remember how the Lord responded...get thee behind me satan—you are a stumbling block to me...[and then what?]...for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s...

- when a person chooses to follow Christ as king whatever the cost, they are placing their attention on the interests of God Himself...

- now, what are some of the take aways?...

1. Do you personally know the king?...

- the death of Christ is sufficient for all, but it is only efficient for those who repent and believe

2. Are you thankful for the suffering of your Savior?

3. Are you willing to embrace suffering if that is part of following Christ for you?

Philippians 3:10 - that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video