Sermon – November 29, 2020
John 19:1-16 – The Vale of Glory (mp3)
God has been incredibly kind to us in the smallest of things, many of which we are so accustomed to that we typically miss them entirely. How difficult would life be without the slight delay, the filter, between what we think and feel and what we say? How would others view us if the thoughts of our hearts escaped immediately upon their thought? If we are honest, such a reality would be a dreadfully painful one, both for us and others. Here, at the end of the trial of Jesus in John, we have a picture of that moment when our filters are thrown off, our pretensions are eliminated, and we stand bare before God. What do we see in this text?
1. The reality of Pilate’s pride
Pilate begins by using the same tools to the same ends that he has already used. He is the one in authority, he is the one with power. When his judgment is found unacceptable by the Jews, he seeks to make clear to them again that this is so (“Take him and crucify him yourselves!”). Yet, as Jesus makes clear, he has no real power, and cannot stop what is put in motion. This is best demonstrated when Pilate seeks to have Jesus released – he is now powerless to do so. Pilate’s pride is unfounded; his authority and glory is meaningless. Friends, so is all of our pride. It is empty and meaningless in the face of the cross!
2. The reality of Israel’s idolatry
Israel has longed believed, even in times of grave trouble before their God, that they served God. The leaders here are certainly of the mindset that they are protecting God’s law and his name. Yet, when push comes to shove, their desire to destroy Jesus removes that small filter in between their hearts and their mouths, and their pretenses fall. “We have no King but Caesar” is a denial of God in the highest. Again, the cross makes all of our masks and pretenses fall, and will show us who we really are.
3. The reality of Christ’s coronation
Yet, it seemingly hides Christ’s. Mocked and beaten, he looks like anything but a king. Yet, in being so mocked, he is doing precisely what the King of God’s kingdom should do. He is following the will of God; he is protecting his people; he is winning victory for them; he is trusting in God. Therefore, far from being humiliating, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus is truly his coronation as the true and everlasting king foretold. See past the vale of this world, and the apparent humiliation, and see the glory of the King!