Midweek Lent 2 February 21 & 22, 2018
Text: Psalm 110:1-3 His Mercy Endures Forever: Savior in Psalms
Theme: Yes, It Was As They Said 18:2051
What one word might you use to describe Jesus’ life on earth? Sacrificial? Loving? Humble? Gracious? Ironic? Ironic? That is probably not a word that popped into your head.
Ironic. Something is ironic when that which actually happens is different from that which was expected to happen. For example, it is ironic if firemen are called to put out a house fire and save the house. But while they are saving the house, their fire engine catches fire and is destroyed. The opposite of what was expected happened.
Jesus’ life was filled with irony. The opposite of that which people might expect happened. For example, as the Son of God, people would expect Jesus to arrive here and be born in a place of great honor and glory fitting of God. Instead, He is born in a lowly stable and laid to rest in an animal’s feed trough. He who created and owns all things, came in poverty and meekness.
In the Lenten Season those ironies are heightened, especially as over the next several weeks we get to see the court trials of Jesus held before the Jewish council and before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. In both cases Jesus was mockingly accused and laughed at for being something that He really was. Both times Jesus answered the accusations with a simple, “Yes, It Is as You Say.” The first irony that His accusers refused to admit was that…
I. …the Man (Jesus) was God.
The Jewish Council refused to accept what was true. Even though Old Testament prophecies, like our psalm this evening, clearly stated this truth about the Messiah and Jesus’ whole ministry – His miracles, His heavenly teaching – supported who He was. But the Jewish leaders were not going to accept it and would not be satisfied until they did away with Him. So they brought false witnesses before Jesus by which they could pronounce a death sentence against Him. The problem was that those witnesses could not agree on any evidence. Finally, frustrated by their failure, the high priest confronted Jesus with the statement, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Mt.26:63).
Caiaphas did not say it because he hoped it was true. He said it because he wished to accuse Jesus of blasphemy against God if Jesus
identified Himself as being equal with God. If Jesus said “yes,” Caiaphas would denounce Him as a blasphemer because Caiaphas never considered that it was true. He regarded Jesus as only a man.
But, ironically, it was just as he said. That man standing before them was not only a man, but He was also the Son of God, divine in Himself. The irony was that Caiaphas, not wanting to be, was exactly right!
Throughout His ministry Jesus had staked His claim to the truth of His divine nature by what He said and what He did.
During His first sermon in Nazareth, Jesus clearly implied that He was the Messiah whom God had promised through the prophet Isaiah. That statement received quite a reaction. At first people were favorable to His words. But they soon grew furious at what He implied and tried to kill Him for blasphemy.
On another occasion Jesus stated the truth about Himself again when He quoted the words of the psalm this evening. In fact, this psalm more than any other is quoted in the New Testament, more than 30 times, to show the connection between Jesus and the promised Christ. When Jesus quoted it, He asked the religious leaders, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” “The Son of David,” they replied. Jesus answered, “How is it then that David…calls Him ‘Lord’? If David acknowledges Him as ‘Lord’, how can He be David’s son?” (Mt.22:42f)
His implication was inescapable. If Christ were only a human descendant of David, then why did David call Him Lord? The fact that David called Him ‘Lord,’ must mean that the Messiah was greater than a mere human son. He must also be the Son of God. David saw that more clearly than the Jewish leaders 1000 years before Jesus. There was no mistake, no blasphemy. This man was God. Ironically, it was just as they said.
Although the Jewish leaders rejected the truth, thank goodness that this man is God. He had to be God to take away our sins. Only God can work forgiveness for them. If He isn’t God, then we are most miserable indeed for we would still be in our sin. Thank God He was as they said – God’s Son, our Savior!
II. This criminal was King.
The Jewish leaders were too obstinate to admit it. But they were crafty enough to use it against Jesus. When they brought Jesus to Pilate, they could not accuse Him of blasphemy. Pilate would laugh at that. They had to concoct a new accusation. So they brought Jesus to Pilate like a criminal, but they claimed, “He said He was a king, a threat to Caesar!” Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you a king?” For the second time He answered, “Yes, it is as you say.” That was the second irony – the criminal was a king!
He didn’t look like a king, standing before the court, bound. He looked more like a criminal. What king would offer no defense? What king would have no army to rescue him? But then, Jesus never did look much like a king.
He was born in a barn, lived in obscurity, his closest friends were fishermen, He rode into the capital city on a donkey. It takes the words of David here to show us that things are not always as they appear: “The LORD, says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my aright hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
God invited Christ to sit at His right hand – the position of power and authority equal to Him. What we see in Jesus with our eyes is a humble person, humiliated, a criminal. But in actuality He is far more. He is, a king who wields the power and authority of God Himself.
We see glimpses of it throughout His life: a coronation song sung by angels on Christmas, a spell-binding lesson by a 12-year-old that puzzled the rabbis, commanding the weather and driving out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching the Good News. But the greatest display of Jesus’ divine power came right in front of the Jewish Elders and Pilate in His humble submission to the Father’s will. He would die for the sins of the whole world.
Only He, as God’s Son, was powerful enough to do it. And He did it. He wanted to suffer; He wanted to be condemned to the cross; He wanted to be forsaken by the Father; He wanted to breathe His last and give up His spirit; He wanted to rise 3 days later, because then He would make all His enemies a footstool for His feet. He shattered their power over us. If only the Sanhedrin and Pilate had listened to David in this psalm, they too would have believed in their hearts what their eyes could not see. It was as they said. This criminal was King! What irony!
But that irony is saving truth; that irony is our blessed faith; that irony is our glorious hope, for on the Last Day when He comes again He will extend His rule over all. And we, arrayed in the holy majesty that He won for us, will receive the freshness of life forever, fresh as the dew each day because of what He is – Man, yet God – Criminal, yet King. God grant us such faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.