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The Soldiers' Game

Tom Pennington • Mark 15:16-20

  • 2013-04-07 PM
  • The Memoirs of Peter
  • Sermons


Man has always hated righteousness, and therefore he's hated those who are righteous. When there were only four people on the earth, Cain resented his righteous brother Abel and his sacrifice, and he killed him. But as you would expect, man's hatred of righteousness reached a high point when the only truly Righteous One walked the earth.

From the very early days of His ministry, Jesus' enemies plotted His death. The first time was in the fall of 29 AD. This is assuming, by the way, a ministry of Jesus that begins at about 26 and runs to 30, and the crucifixion being in April of 30 AD. That being true, in the fall of 29 AD, we read in Mark 3:6, "The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him." It was just a few months before the crucifixion, in February of 30 AD, John 11 says that from the time of the raising of Lazarus, "… from that day on they planned together to kill Him." And then of course in April of 30 AD, Luke 22:2, says, "The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people." During the Passion Week, that quote comes from. So, they were seeking to kill Jesus really throughout His earthly ministry. These are three plots that we know of.

On at least three occasions, we know that Jesus actually had to escape for His life. The first time happened in Luke 4; in fact, turn there with me. Luke 4. It's before Jesus moved His ministry headquarters to Capernaum, probably in the summer of 28 AD. Luke 4, and notice verse 28. This is after His sermon in His hometown synagogue in Nazareth. "And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things." What things? That they were spiritually dead and prisoners and blind and in desperate need; that they were no more righteous than the Gentiles, as Jesus explains it. And they became enraged. Verse 29:

… they got up and drove Him out of the city; and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.

There's a second time Jesus had to escape in the-in the fall of 29 AD. It's recorded for us in John 8. Turn there. John 8:56, Jesus is having interaction with the Jewish people and their leaders, and He says in verse 56,

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, ... he saw it and was glad." So, the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" [And] Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." [They understood what He was claiming.] Verse 59, Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

The third time is in John 10 in just a couple months later in December of 29. Notice John 10:37,

"If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father." [They understood what He was claiming. Again, He was claiming to be equal with God.] Verse 39, Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.

So, the animosity, the hatred, toward the righteous finds its low point as the most Righteous One is upon the earth. And they hate Him for who He is and for what He claims and for how His life confronts their own.

Tragically, once Jesus has been arrested, once He was in the control of the Sanhedrin and then of Pilate, human abuse became completely unrestrained. We've already seen it play out in His trials. During the first phase of the Jewish trial before Annas, according to John 18:22, one of the officers gave Jesus a blow to the face, because he didn't like the way Jesus was responding to Annas. During the second phase of the Jewish trial things escalate. At the end of that trial that was held in the home of Caiaphas during the early hours of the morning on Friday, both the temple police, and apparently even members of the Sanhedrin or their servants, spit on Jesus. They slapped Him, and they beat Him with their fists.

Look at Mark 14. Mark 14, and notice verse 65. This is at the end of the second Jewish trial around three o'clock in the morning on that Friday morning. "Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, 'Prophesy!' And the officers received Him with slaps in the face." During the second Roman trial before Herod, Luke 23:11 tells us that Herod actually allowed his soldiers to treat Jesus with contempt, mocking Him and dressing Him in this gorgeous, purple robe of royalty and ridiculing Him as a king.

During the third Roman trial before Pilate, the hostility, the abuse, picks up significantly. Turn to John 19, John 19. This is during the third trial as Herod has sent Jesus back to Pilate, and Pilate is trying to secure Jesus' release. Verse 1 of John 19 says,

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to … [the crowd] [out of the Praetorium, back out to the crowd there on the marketplace], "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in him." Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, 'Behold, the man!"

Now, this final description here that I've just read for you from John 19 is a difficult one. It's difficult, because it's a challenge to know how to synchronize that passage in John 19:1-5, with Matthew's record in Matthew 27:27-30, and Mark's record that we're going to look at tonight in Mark 15:16-19, . How do you reconcile those together? There are two possible options. First of all, it is possible that all three passages are describing the same scourging. If so, then we're talking about the horrific beating that always accompanied crucifixion. And that scourging either occurred during the third phase of the Jewish trial as John 19 seems to describe, or it occurred after the third phase of the trial was over as both Matthew and Mark seem to imply.

If you look at Matthew, he says, "Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, He handed Him over to be crucified." Mark says in Mark 15:15, "Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified." Now, you can see the challenge. Having read John 19 and seen these passages, there's some question about when all of this occurred.

I personally have been struggling with this issue, and I have in the past leaned toward this first option, that there was really only one scourging and all three passages are describing the same scourging. But I think there's a second option that really best reconciles the data of the Gospels, and that is that there were in fact two separate beatings of Jesus and two separate mockings by the soldiers. The first one is the one I read for you in John 19:1-5. This did happen during the third phase of the Roman trial before Pilate. It was Pilate's attempt to try to win sympathy for Jesus, because he still hoped at this point to release Jesus. You say, how could this secure sympathy?

Well, there's an interesting issue to be discovered here. Sherwin-White, who is a specialist in Roman law (He taught at Oxford University during the last century.), in his book on Roman society and Roman law in the New Testament, he explains that the Romans had three different kinds of beatings, three different kinds of scourgings: the first is called "fustigatio", "fustigatio"; the second, "flagellation"; and the third, "verberatio".

Now the first of those, "fustigatio", was the lightest form of beating, and it was frequently given as a warning to teach the person a lesson. This was apparently what Pilate threatened in Luke 23:22, when he said to them the third time, "What evil has this man done? I ... found [no guilt in Him] demanding death; therefore I will punish Him." And the word he uses is actually a word which means "I will discipline Him," like a parent disciplines a child. Or, we could say in the vernacular, "I will teach him a lesson, and then release him." I think that is exactly what Pilate carried out against Christ in John 19. During the third phase of the trial, trying to secure Jesus' release, trying to win empathy and sympathy for Jesus, he subjects Him to this lightest form of beating.

But then you have in Matthew 27 and in Mark 15 another mocking of Jesus by the soldiers and another scourging which happened, (these happened) at the end of the third phase of the Roman trial. It was a second mockery of the soldiers, but this time involving the whole off-duty cohort of soldiers and not just the soldiers who held Him in custody. It also involved this second scourging. But this time it was not the "fustigatio", but instead it was the brutal "verberatio": it was the severe beating that always proceeded a capital sentence and crucifixion. It was often life-threatening in and of itself, and it always shortened the victim's time on the cross.

Although we can't be absolutely certain, based on both the timing that's described in the Gospel records and the Greek words that are used, I personally lean heavily toward this second explanation: that there were in fact two separate beatings. The first a lighter one to teach Jesus a lesson and to win sympathy from the people in order for him to release Him. At that time just the soldiers who were in the detail and who had Jesus' in custody mocked Him. But then you have a second beating, the kind that always proceeded crucifixion and is the horrific one we all have read about and heard about—and a second mocking.

What you have, if this is the right explanation, it means that during the third phase of the Roman trial, Pilate had Jesus flogged with that less severe form of punishment. And at the same time, according to John 19:2 and 3, the soldiers made a crown of thorns, they put a purple robe on Him, they hailed Him and gave Him slaps in the face.

And then notice verse 4 of John 19. Pilate came out from the Praetorium. It's likely that he watched this beating during the third phase of the trial. And while he may not have ordered it specifically (that is, the mocking of the soldiers, that took place with his complete approval.) For the next few minutes then, after Pilate brings Jesus back out onto the open marketplace, and at the bema seat, he tries to release Jesus, but he eventually gives in to the desires of Jewish leaders in order to preserve his own job security.

And then we read in Mark 15—Turn to Mark 15:15. at the very end then of that third phase, "Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified." This is the second scourging that came at the end of that third Roman trial. It's the severe and brutal "verberatio", a deadly preparation for crucifixion. And in conjunction with this second, much more severe scourging also comes the second part, part two, of the mockery by the soldiers. And that's what we read tonight in Mark 15, beginning in verse 16:

The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.

This is an unbelievable account, an unbelievable record from the life of our Lord as the soldiers play out their cruel game. I want us to take it apart and begin by seeing the preparing for the soldier's cruel game, preparing the soldier's cruel game.

All the trials are now over. Contrary to both biblical and Jewish law, the Sanhedrin had found Jesus guilty of blasphemy. Knowing that Pilate would never put Jesus to death for that kind of charge, they manufactured the charge of insurrection, and they deliver Him to Pilate. Three Roman trials play out in quick succession. In all three Jesus is found completely innocent of all charges, including the ridiculous charge of insurrection. But contrary to all Roman law, because of the threats of the crowd to complain to Caesar, Pilate delivers to execution a man that he had declared to be innocent no less than four times.

The story picks up in verse 16. "The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium)." The small group of soldiers who had been escorting Jesus back and forth between the bema seat out on the open market and the courtyard of the governor's residence now take Him away. They take Him back into the palace. Literally, the text says, "The soldiers led Him away into the courtyard which is the Praetorium." Mark is describing the large courtyard between the two wings of Herod the Great's palace that he had built in Jerusalem.

Just to remind you, in the foreground is a replica built, a scale model of what they believe, based on the descriptions of Josephus and others, Herod's palace looked like: two huge wings. In fact, we're told by Josephus that each wing had a hundred bedrooms. This was a massive structure. Probably on this occasion, Herod was on one end (not Herod the Great, but one of his descendants), and on the other end was Pilate, and in between, that massive courtyard. Here's another angle of it just to give you sort of a feel for what it was like: spectacular. And just outside of that courtyard was an open market. You see where that red arrow's pointing, an open market. And apparently just outside the courtyard here in the foreground and into that open market is where the bema seat was set, where Pilate heard cases and pronounced his sentence against Jesus.

And so, what you have here in the text is these soldiers bringing Jesus from the open market back into the courtyard of the governor's palace. Now let me just remind you that traditionally, many have taught that this residence that's described here and this site where all these events unfolded was the Fortress Antonia which overlooks the Temple Mount. But the evidence does not support that. There is no evidence that a Roman prefect or a Roman governor ever stayed in the Fortress Antonia. On the other hand, both Josephus and Philo, both Jewish writers, say that when the Roman governors came to Jerusalem from Caesarea over on the coast, they stayed in this palace that Herod the Great had built.

So, a few soldiers, who had been responsible for Jesus up to this point, took Him back into this courtyard here in the foreground of the Praetorium. Before Jesus can be crucified, according to Roman law, He must face that third and most brutal form of scourging, the "verberatio". It's referred to, notice, in Mark 15:15, "Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified." And then you have in verse 16 the soldiers taking Jesus for the mocking. Apparently when the scourging, the "verberatio", was completed, that's when the soldiers played their little game with Christ. It was absolutely brutal. It was like a cat playing with a mouse that it'd already caught and severely injured. At this point Jesus is probably hardly able to even stand.

Verse 16 says they took Him back into the courtyard of the Praetorium, "and they called together the whole Roman cohort." Matthew tells us that these Roman soldiers were, specifically soldiers assigned to Pilate. It's possible they'd been part of the group that had arrested Jesus during the night. Once these soldiers had taken Jesus back inside this large courtyard, they call together the entire Roman cohort. Now technically, a Roman cohort consisted of a tenth of a legion, or six hundred soldiers. But the same word is sometimes used for a smaller group of more like two hundred to possibly three hundred soldiers. The point is clear though. All of the soldiers that were available that morning that were part of this group were involved in this sadistic sport. The point that both Matthew and Mark want us to understand is that a large group of soldiers were involved.

Now these soldiers were not primarily from Italy. When we think of Roman soldiers, that's what we tend to think of, but that wouldn't have been so. Rome always conscripted soldiers from every place she conquered except for Jews who were exempt from military service. Most of the soldiers that were stationed in Judea in the first century, even those that were assigned to Pilate were not legionnaires, but they were part of Rome's auxiliary forces. They were typically natives of Samaria, Syria, and possibly even some of the Roman cities of Palestine. It was important, because many of them spoke Aramaic and therefore were able to interact with the people of the country, including in this case Jesus. But all of them without exception would have been Gentiles and had a distinctly anti-Jewish mindset.

Once the couple hundred men assembled in this courtyard, notice verse 17 tells us, "They dressed Him up in purple [as they had before during the third phase of the trial], and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him." Matthew records explicitly what Mark implies: they first stripped Jesus' own clothes off of Him, probably leaving Him entirely naked; and then they dress Him up. The Greek word for "dress" here is only used one other time in the New Testament. It's not the common Greek word for "dressing"; instead, it's a kind of grand, kingly, royal word. I think the NAS has captured it well: "They dressed Him up." Specifically, they dressed Him up or outfitted Him in "purple," the text says. The Greek word for "purple", it can describe shades, everything from rose to dark purple. It's possible that these soldiers actually took a genuine purple garment (an incredibly expensive piece of cloth in that day that had been dyed with a dye from a rare shellfish; it was the most expensive fabric, the most expensive color) it's possible that they actually took that, and then allowed it to become soiled with the blood of a common criminal on his way to execution. But it's not likely.

Matthew tells us that it was something a little different. He says they put on Him a "scarlet robe." The Greek words Matthew uses give us a little more insight. It was intended to represent the purple robe of royalty, but what it was in fact was simply an old, faded, Roman soldier's, red cape that had been discarded. And the faded red only faintly resembled the much more expensive purple. But that's what they intended it to represent.

And instead of the gilded wreath of leaves, they fashioned a crown of thorns woven from a plant there that was native to that country, and they placed it on His head. As one botanist observed: "There is not another country as small as Palestine on earth that has such a huge assortment of thorny shrubs and plants." And it's true. It's incredible. There're a number of possibilities for the plant from which these thorns came. The most popular one down through the centuries has been this one that is actually named the Christ Thorn. It comes from this tree. We can't be certain, but if it was, you can see something of what these thorns were like there on the spike of the spine. It's also a very flexible plant, and so it has good possibilities for being the kind of thing that can be woven. Here's a close up of the thorns that you can see there.

Regardless of what plant it came from, this crown was intended to accomplish two purposes. It was to serve as sarcastic mockery of Jesus' claim to be a king, to ridicule Him, to show how ridiculous His claims really were, and to inflict yet more pain. Because as the thorns, whichever ones were used (Some of the varieties in Israel run as long as two inches.), as the thorns were roughly pressed into His head, streams of blood began to pour down His face and neck and shoulders. Now remember, His face had already been beaten and was therefore swollen, possibly already beyond recognition. And now it's severely bloodied.

Have you ever wondered why the crown of thorns? Obviously, we know what the soldiers intended. But don't you think that there's a lesson here? It can't be an accident that thorns in Scripture are always connected to the curse. The reason there are thorns is because God cursed this planet because of human sin, and now, as Jesus bears our curse, He wears a crown of thorns. This is how they outfitted Jesus; this is how they dressed Him up.

But all of this is really just preparation for the real fun that they want to have with Jesus, for the game that they want to play. And that brings us to verses 18 and 19. We've seen preparing the soldier's cruel game. Let's look secondly at playing the soldier's cruel game. They've now prepared Him, and the game begins. Verse 18: "And they began to acclaim Him, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'" Remember that during the trials, these same soldiers had heard Pilate refer to Jesus again and again with the crowd as the King of the Jews: what do you want me to do with the "King of the Jews?" And so now they sarcastically began to greet Him as though He were a great king. In fact, their language is apparently an intentional parody of the greeting that Caesar himself received: Ave Caesar! Victor Imperator!

Verse 19, "They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him." All the Greek verbs in this verse describe not one time action, but ongoing action that was ongoing for a period of time. What had happened briefly and with much less brutality during the trial is now carried to a much greater extreme. Why? These soldiers didn't even know Jesus. It's because given government permission to be cruel, and then placed in a mob-type setting, man's inherent brutality always comes out. I think the most graphic example of that in the lifetimes of some of us in this room are Nazi Germany. They were like sharks sensing blood in the water. A few violent acts suddenly produced a feeding frenzy. So, having outfitted Jesus like the laughable King of the Jews He claimed to be, they now sarcastically and brutally proceed to treat Him like a king. Perhaps they set Him on a chair or a bench as a pretend throne, and then this large group of men, as many as a couple hundred, was given the opportunity to express their derision.

Do you get the picture of what's going on here? A couple hundred Roman soldiers, one by one they come before Jesus, and they kneel before Him, and they bow before Him, and then they greet Him: "Hail, King of the Jews!" Well, if this man had actually been Caesar, they would have greeted Him with a kiss. And so, in their fun they substituted an insult for the honor of a kiss. Once they had gotten up from bowing before Him and greeting Him, they stood before Him, and they saluted Him by spitting in His face.

Matthew tells us that when they dressed Him up, they'd also given Him a reed, a staff, a small stick, as a scepter. It may have been one of the papyrus reeds that grew along the banks of the Jordan and the Dead Sea which resembles kind of a small bamboo stalk. Many of the soldiers, as they took their turn ridiculing Jesus, reached, after they had bowed before Him, after they had greeted Him as King of the Jews, after they had gotten up and saluted Him by spitting in His face, many of them would grab that mock scepter out of His hand and beat Him about the head with it. Not only did this inflict fresh pain, driving the thorns deeper into Jesus' head, it was an intentional act of derision. They were essentially saying, "So, You're a king, are you? Here's how little power You have; here's how much I fear You; here's Your scepter which represents Your power and right to rule; I'll take it from You and beat You with it." Again, and again. This incredible outrage didn't happen just once or twice or five times, it happened dozens of times, perhaps as many as two hundred times as they played their sadistic game. The cat playing with the mouse it's about to kill.

I want us, thirdly, to interpret the soldier's cruel game. Why do Matthew and Mark and John all record the soldier's brutality and mockery in such detail and at such length? Have you ever thought about this? You might be tempted to say, well, they wanted to help us grasp the physical suffering of Christ. Understand that the Gospel writers spend four or five times as much space on the mockery of the soldiers as they do on the actual crucifixion itself. That isn't what you or I would do if we were writing this account. So, there must be a deeper, more profound significance, a spiritual significance. What exactly is the significance of the abuse that the soldiers heaped on Christ? How should we interpret these ghastly, horrific events? Well, there're several ways that we need to understand it.

First of all, it perfectly fulfilled Jesus' own prophecy. Go back to Mark 10, Mark 10:32. This was just over a week before the events we're studying, on Friday probably, the Friday before the Friday of His crucifixion. Mark 10:32:

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again, He took the twelve aside and [He] began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and [then they] will hand Him over to the Gentiles. … [And the Gentiles] will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again."

Our Lord had told His disciples exactly what would transpire a week before it did. That was the third and final time He prophesied His suffering and death, and it's amazing the detail in which He describes it. What actually transpires in chapter 15 is a perfect fulfillment of what Jesus had prophesied just a week before. It showed again who He really is.

There's a second point of interpretation from this brutality the soldiers brought to Jesus. Secondly, it fulfilled an important Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah. It was a prophecy that was given seven hundred years before these events unfolded. Not just a week, seven hundred years. Isaiah 50:6, says, "I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting." Isaiah had said the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, when He came, would be treated just this way. And it unfolded exactly as the prophet had written.

There's a third important point of interpretation that comes from this event. It illustrates the human hatred of and rejection of God and all of His messengers: His Son, and now for us, His people. You understand that this is a graphic picture of what man would do if he actually could get his hands on God? This is what he would do. But since he can't get his hands on God, he strikes out at the image of God reflected in His people and in His servants and in His Son.

It's just like the person who is angry and bitter with his or her spouse and can't strike out in anger at that person for fear of justice and criminal charges, and so instead, they take a portrait or a picture, and they deface it. It's an expression of their anger. And so, it reminds us of the world's hostility against Jesus and against us as His followers. And His response to that hatred and rejection is a pattern for our own when you and I face it, because His response was magnificent. And it really captured the hearts and minds of His disciples and of the believers in the first century.

Peter writes this in 1 Peter 2:23: "… while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering [like we just saw Him suffer], He uttered no threats, but [He just] kept [on] entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously." Jesus didn't need to get even, He left that with God in His justice. God's day will come. You and I don't need to get even with those who persecute us, those who hate us because they hate God, who hate us because there's some semblance of righteousness in us. You've experienced it if you're in Christ. You know what this is like: to be ridiculed, to be hated, to be rejected because of your faith. How do you respond? You respond the same way Jesus did. When you're reviled, don't revile in return. When you suffer, don't threaten, but just keep on entrusting yourself to the just and righteous God who someday will settle all accounts.

There's a fourth interpretation to this tragedy: it is part of Jesus' suffering for sin. Do you understand that theologically, Jesus' suffering for sin didn't begin at 9 am on Friday morning of the crucifixion and end at 3 pm? Jesus' whole life was a life of suffering on our behalf, and certainly this suffering was part of that. Isaiah captures this as well. In Isaiah 53:5: "… The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are [spiritually] healed." Peter quotes this and makes it clear that we're talking about spiritual healing and not physical healing (although every blessing that we enjoy ultimately flows to us from the cross including physical healing, but that's not the focus of this passage.) Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; [You see this happening.] Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, ... like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth." Instead, He took the suffering, because it was suffering in your place and in my place. His whole life was a life of suffering that came to ultimate consummation on the cross. And it was for us; it was in our place.

Now, I think all of those are valid interpretations of the mocking of the soldiers, but I think the main point of this episode may be this fifth and final one. And that is that it is a graphic demonstration of man's rejection of Jesus' rightful authority, of His right to rule, of His kingship. Jesus' kingship was mocked, and do you understand it's still mocked and ridiculed and rejected today by most of humanity? This is how most people respond to the claims of Jesus Christ on their life. They don't have the chance to extend it in physical harm to Jesus, but listen to how they talk about Him, listen to how they use His name. This is how they respond to His right to rule. There's a great irony in all of this, in what the soldiers did to Him, because in spite of their intended ridicule, their intended sarcasm, they still acknowledged with their mouth and their actions Jesus' true identity and His true position. He is the King.

I want you to contrast for a moment what we have just studied together with what the Scriptures tell us will one day occur. There's a day coming when Scripture says, "Every knee will [truly] bow ... and every tongue will [truly] confess that [He] is Lord." In that day Jesus' garment will no longer be the discarded cloak of a Roman soldier, but it will, according to the Book of Revelation, be a golden sash and a robe dipped in the blood of His enemies. His crown will not be made of thorns, but of many diadems; His scepter, no longer a reed, but a rod of iron with which He will rule the nations. His tongue will no longer be silent, but from His mouth, according to Revelation 19, will come a sharp two-edged sword with which He will strike down the nations. In other words, at a word spoken from His mouth, all His enemies will be destroyed. And He will no longer be called the King of the Jews, but King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In that day He will not be mocked and laughed at, but as Psalm 2 says,

He who sits in the heavens … [will laugh], the Lord … [will mock] them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain."

You understand? This is truly the King, and when His suffering is done, and when His day is come, this is how He will be.

How do you respond to the reality of Jesus' authority and kingship? I want you to turn back to Psalm 2. I just quoted it, Psalm 2:4. But notice the flow of this chapter.

"… the nations [are] in an uproar ... the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth ... the rulers [they are against Yahweh] {verse 2] ... and Against His Anointed" [One, against the Messiah. And here's their concern.] "[Let's] … tear their fetters apart ... [let's] … cast away their cords from us!"

We don't want them telling us what to do. We don't want their authority. We don't want their kingship. It's exactly what the Jews and the Romans and what we said to God when we participated in the crucifixion and the brutality against Jesus. And here's Jesus', I'm sorry, here's the Father's response in verse 4,

He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord [mocks] … them. [And] … He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: [This is Jesus speaking.] [God the Father] said to Me, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will ... give [You] the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like [clay pots.]"" [Here's the response.] "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship … [Yahweh] with … [fear] and rejoice with trembling. [And you better] {verse 12] Do homage to the Son." [Literally, "kiss the Son." Don't spit in His face.] You kiss "the Son, that He [may] not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we are amazed at what You subjected Your Son to. We're amazed at what He voluntarily took upon Himself. And Father, we're also amazed at what we subjected Him to. It was for our sins, for our guilt, that He suffered these things. By His scourging we are spiritually healed.

Father, we thank You that while we one-time also mocked Your Messiah, while we laughed and while we ridiculed and while we rebelled against His rightful authority in our lives, Father, we thank You that You have brought us to see our sin, that You brought us to acknowledge our rebellion. And now we have kissed the Son. we have found refuge in Him. Father, we thank You that You have brought us in right relationship to Yourself through His death on our behalf.

Father, I pray for those here tonight who are still living outside of the authority and the right to rule that Jesus has in their lives. Lord, may they see where that leads. May they understand that His wrath may soon be kindled, the day of opportunity may soon be passed, and may this be the day when they acknowledge Him as God and King.

We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

The Memoirs of Peter