A Sermon For Year A, Passion Sunday
Copyright © 2008 Nathan L. Bostian

Based on Matthew 26:69-27:54

Tonight I would like us to take a mental tour- a tour with our imagination- of the day that Jesus was condemned... The day that Jesus was finally "crowned" as a King.

A perfect life. Perfect love. He healed and delivered all who trusted in Him. The blind see. The crippled walk. The hungry are fed. And now this...

Jesus, eyes swollen, face bruised, body beaten, stands before crooked judges after becoming a victim of police brutality...

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus:

"Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?"

Look into the narrow eyes of the high priest. Can you see the hate? Can you see the judgment? Can you see the rage?

But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him,

"I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? What is your verdict?"

The bloodthirsty crowd screamed "He deserves death!"

Look into the narrow eyes of the crowd around Jesus. Can you see the hate? Can you see the judgment? Can you see the rage?

Jesus didn't deserve it. He did nothing but Love. He received nothing but hate. You see, He didn't fit what they thought Messiah should be like.

They wanted Messiah to be powerful and filled with wrath. A true Messiah would kill all the Romans, all the foreigners, and everyone who didn't look right, or smell right, or believe right according to the "nice" religious people.

But Jesus didn't do that. He loved instead. He cared for women, and children, the poor, the diseased, and worst of all- non "religious" people. Non-Jews. Even Centurions in the occupying Roman Army.

He seemed to have this crazy compassion for all people- as if they mattered- as if God loved them.

He was a revolutionary. A heretic. He loved the wrong people. He didn't hate the right people. He didn't heal on the right day, or teach in the right way.

He didn't fit their stereotype, so they crucified Him. They judged Him, condemned Him, and killed Him.

And those who promised their undying devotion- people like Peter, "The Rock"- they turned their back on Jesus, and denied they even knew Him.

Can you see the look on Peter's face when the rooster crows and he finally realizes the depth to which he has sunk? Have you ever been in Peter's shoes?

Now its your turn...

You see, Jesus tells us that whatever you have done for the most insignificant people around you, you have done for Him. [Matthew 25]

And when you reject the poor, the needy, and the "different"... when you deny their humanity in your thoughts, words and deeds... you are rejecting Him too.

So its your turn. Close your eyes and answer these questions with Jesus:

Who do you judge, condemn, and crucify in your heart because they are different?

Who do you deny, and turn your back on, and pretend like you never knew them?

Is it the person who sits all alone, who doesn't talk right or look right or smell right? Is it the person who asks for change at the street corner?

Is it the person who is loud and boastful and knows it all, who deep down hates themselves?

Is it the people who try to look beautiful and trendy on the outside because on the inside they feel ugly?

Is it the person who tries to act tough, but who is scared inside?

Is it the person who has less than you and wears tattered clothes?

Is the person who has more than you, who makes you jealous?

Is it the person who has given up on life and lives in apathy, because no one has ever told them they were worth something?

Is it people who dress different, or speak a different language, or have a different skin color?

Is it people who believe differently, or have a different god?

When you condemn them and make them sub-human, you condemn Christ all over again.

When you judge them and label them based on their outward appearance, you judge Christ all over again.

When you crown them with your labels of bitterness, worthlessness, and judgment: You crown Christ with a crown of thorns all over again.

You see, after they condemned Jesus, they stripped him and put a robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head.

He deserved a crown of heavenly light arrayed with the stars of the sky, what He got was two inch barbs pressing through flesh and grinding against the bone of his skull.

They put a rod in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on him, and took the rod and struck him on the head.

One day He will rule with a iron scepter that will destroy all hate and oppression and selfishness and sin. On day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He alone is Lord.

Yet, on that day so long ago, they used his rod to beat him, and their words to mock him.

Why did he take that mocking crown and rod? Why did He let himself be taunted and abused when He could call down millions of angels to save him? Why?

Maybe it was because He knew that when that happened, the world was over. When He comes in power, time stands still and there are no more second chances.

When He comes back to establish His eternal Kingdom, our time is through. Our choices are over, and He will judge us by what we've become.

The Light of His Love will show us who we REALLY are deep down inside: Past our masks. Beyond our facades. Underneath our excuses: We will face who we have become in the Light of Christ.

But before He comes in power and glory to judge our hearts, He wants to spread His Kingdom in a different way. He gives us the freedom to receive or ignore His Love. He gives us the choice of accepting or denying His Kingdom.

Right now, we live in a world where we are either revolutionaries who spread His Kingdom, or we are enemies opposed to it. We are either spreading Light, or bringing darkness. We are either part of Christ's solution, or part of the problem.

You make the choice. Which side are you on?

What crown will you seek after?

The crown of the world?

Or the crown of Christ?

Close your eyes for final time, and see Christ coming again in glory on that last day. He is riding the clouds, with radiant light flowing from Him and ten million angels behind Him. He sits on His throne to judge the world, and countless billions of humanity are spread out like a sea before him.

What do you want Christ to say to you? What reward do you want to see in heaven? What Kingdom do you serve? Will you wear His crown of thorns, or the crown of the world?

Look in front of you. Two people are sitting before the throne of Christ. One is clothed in a trendy suit, with polished shoes and perfect hair. He confidently comes before Christ carrying a huge burden on his shoulder. It is a sack filled with what he calls his "treasure". He opens his sack to present his achievements and trophies to Christ as proof of his worth.

Christ looks at him sadly, as the man dips his hands in the sack and pulls out nothing but crumbling debris, rust, and filth. In the light of Christ all his pretty things become ugly. He gets frantic trying to reach the bottom of his sack, his head sweaty, his hands trembling. His wealth crumbles before him. His success and power slips through his hands. The people who said they were his friends turn their heads from him. And his fine clothes begin to disintegrate from his body, leaving him cold and naked and ashamed before his Lord.

Then you see a second person walk before Christ. She is naked, and humble and hesitant and self conscious. Yet, warmth and Love radiate from Christ's face. She says she has nothing to bring before Him... and then they come forward.

One man stands beside her saying "I was hungry, and she fed me". Another women stands beside her saying "I was sick, and she healed me". Yet another, "I was lonely and she cared for me". And another, and another, and another. Soon she was surrounded by hundreds whom her life had touched... hundreds who she would be with for eternity.

And then all those who had been touched by the people she had touched came forward, and soon she was surrounded by thousands, maybe millions, who had experienced Christ's Love because of her. And from the throne, out of smiling lips and eyes filled with joyous tears, the Savior's voice boomed "Well done good and faithful servant, well done."

And as the selfish prideful man was sent away humiliated, cold, and naked, Christ clothed that woman with a warm robe of radiant white, which showed the beauty Christ shining through her for all to see.

What do you want Christ to say to you? What reward do you want to see in heaven? What Kingdom do you serve? Will you wear His crown of thorns, or the crown of the world?

Let us meditate on that question for a moment in silence... [End with Taize Song "Jesus remember me, when you come into your Kingdom"]
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.