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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
Title:Christ crowned on the cross
Text:John 19:19-20 (View)
Occasion:Easter (Good Friday)
Topic:Christ's Suffering

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

2010 Book of Praise

Bible Translation: NKJV

Psalm 2:1,2

Hymn 2

Psalm 24:1,4,5

Psalm 2:3,4

Hymn 44:1,2,4

Read:  Psalm 2; John 18:28 – 19:30.

Text:  John 19:19,20.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross.  And the writing was:  Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

There was nothing particularly unusual about writing a sign giving the name of the person crucified and recording the crime he was being killed for.  But was this sign on the cross appropriate?

What Pilate meant by these words we cannot be sure, but are these words true? 

Now of course we know that this sign was true, that it was the Lord Jesus who was on that cross, and that He was the Great King whom God’s people had been waiting for.  But what was He doing on a cross? 

We read together from Psalm 2, a psalm that spoke of the coming Messiah.  But Psalm 2 gives us a very different picture of what the Lord Jesus would look like.  Psalm 2 does not describe a beaten Man dying on a cross but a King who was victorious, a King who would rule the nations.

Concerning the Christ, God said in Psalm 2, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.”  But Pilate, that vassal of the emperor of Rome, had said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me?  Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”  (John 19:10).

In Psalm 2, the LORD had said to His Anointed One, “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”  But from Matthew 27 we learn that He was given not a rod of iron but a reed.  And instead of Jesus breaking the nations, we see the nations striking Him on His own head with that reed.

In Psalm 2 the kings and judges of the earth are warned to “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way.”  The soldiers were not kissing Him:  they spat on Him and they struck Him.

In Psalm 2 the LORD says, “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”  But on Good Friday we don’t see Christ set as King on Mount Zion.  We see Him raised up as a criminal on the hill of Golgotha. 

Psalm 2 says, “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”  But on the eve of His crucifixion, Simon Peter had denied Him.  The other disciples had all fled.  The crowds were crying out for His blood and the chief priests said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.”

And Pilate said, “Behold your King!”

And He is indeed our King.  In Psalm 2 the kings of the earth and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and His Anointed.  And when they crucified our Lord, believing that they had bruised His head, the One who sits in the heavens had the last laugh.  For it was through the cross, and through the mocking derision of the seed of the Serpent that Christ conquered the kingdom of Satan and received His crown as King of kings and Lord of lords.  For by enduring the curse of sin, He conquered sin and was given the right to rule the nations.

And so I preach to you gospel under the following heading:

Christ crowned on the Cross.

1. The crowning of the King.

2. The conquest of the King.


1. The crowning of the King.

It was all a game as far as the soldiers were concerned.  When the chief priests brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, they told Pilate that this Jesus had claimed to be a king.  And so Pilate asked Him in John 18:33,

“Are You the King of the Jews?”

And in John 18:37,

“Are You a king then?”

To which Jesus then said,

“You say rightly that I am a king.  For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

And then, to placate the crowds who were crying out for Jesus’ death, Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.  His back was beaten, He was flogged mercilessly and painfully.  But then the soldiers took over and, it would appear, went far further than Pilate had anticipated. It was quite normal for Roman soldiers to abuse and humiliate their prisoners before they crucified them.  But when it came to Jesus, they would have taken particular delight in mocking Him.  Here as a man, a Jew, who called Himself a king.  Here was the man whom, many soldiers would have known, had come into Jerusalem less than a week before riding on a donkey while the people shouted,

“Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!  The King of Israel!”  (John 12:13)

Here was the man whom so many in Jerusalem had hoped would attack them and take on the Roman empire.  “So this Jesus, a Jew, calls Himself a king does He?  We will show Him what sort of a king He is.”  And so they went hunting for items with which to dress Him up, with which to crown Him as king.

First of all, a crown.  A crown was the sign of royalty above all else.  A crown was not something a man put on his head too lightly.  By accepting a crown on his head, a person accepted the claim that he was supreme, a great king.  And, for the Romans, a crown was also a sign that the person claimed to be divine or at least connected to the gods.  But they did not believe Him to be a real king and so it would not be a real crown that they would place upon His head. 

And then someone saw a thorn bush.  It may have been growing there but more likely it had been collected earlier as fuel for the fire.  What sort of a thorn bush it was and how big the thorns, we do not really know.  There are, in fact, many kinds of thorn bushes that grow around Jerusalem.  What is more significant is the fact that thorns and thistles were a sign and a result of the fall into sin.  But the significance of the thorns were lost on the soldiers.  Quickly but carefully the thorns were twisted together in the shape of a crown and then cruelly, they pressed this crown of thorns on to His head.  And the blood poured from His head, down His face, along His neck and onto His body.  And in this way the soldiers not only mocked Him but they tortured Him.

But a king needs more than a crown: He also needs a robe.  A purple one of course, since purple was the color of royalty.  And they found one, although Matthew records it as being scarlet.  Once again, this would not have been the robe of a real king: commentators believe it to have been an old soldier’s uniform.  That was how they wanted it.  For the soldiers did not want Jesus to look like a king in all his splendor; they wanted to laugh at His ridiculous costume.

And then placing a reed in His hands (not mentioned here by John but described in the gospel according to Matthew), the stage was set.  As the other jeering soldiers looked on, a parade of men lined up to look Jesus in the eye, to bow down in mock homage and shout, “Hail, King of the Jews!”, and to strike Him with their hands.

And as that parade of mocking and jeering soldiers filed past Jesus and struck the Son of God, we can be sure that Satan and his cohorts had also come to watch the spectacle: the mock crowning, the coronation ceremony of the Son of God.  This was their moment and the hour of darkness. 

For it was not just the soldiers who were playing this little game.  It was Satan who wanted the most to see Jesus dressed up and mocked as a king.  Satan was laughing.  Satan knew that since the Fall into sin, there was a battle between himself and the Seed of the Woman.  Satan knew that Jesus had come to take the kingdom away from him and restore it as the kingdom of God. 

But now look at Him!  “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Satan had been working towards this moment ever since Christ was born.  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem asking,

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”  (Matthew 2:2)  That was the reason for Satan’s first attempt to destroy Jesus.  Herod and all Jerusalem were bothered about this, and in an effort to kill this King, Herod ordered that all the baby boys of Bethlehem be killed.  But Jesus escaped to Egypt and later grew up in Nazareth.

Then at the beginning of Christ’s active ministry on earth, Satan tried again.  He showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”  (Matthew 4:8,9)  But Jesus refused to do that.  He had come to establish a new kingdom, not sit at the right hand of Satan in his kingdom.  Soon afterwards, Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And from then on, the Kingdom of heaven was a major theme in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

But now here He was, just where Satan wanted Him.  A king . . . but crowned on a cross!  A king . . . but a mocked king.  And soon to be a dead king.

But was it all as it looked?  Who was this Man who had been scourged, beaten, mocked and dressed up as a king?  What was His name, and what was His title?  When Pilate too Jesus out to the people he said to them,

“Behold your King!”  (John 19:14)

But 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!”  (John 19:15)

“We have no king but Caesar!”  What a terrible thing to say!  How shocking it was not just to deny the King who had come not just from the line of David but who has come from heaven, how shocking it was not just to deny this King but to embrace the king of Rome, Caesar!  How far the chief priests had fallen in their unbelief and in their hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But Pilate would not accept that.  Rather Pilate would publicly announce not just Christ said He was a king, but that He was the King of the Jews.  And so He commanded a sign to be written, a sign to declare who this Man to be crucified was.  And this is what he wrote:

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

And this was the truth!  Whatever Pilate may have been thinking, what he wrote was the truth.  Perhaps Pilate wrote this as a sign of his hatred of the Jews, even his hatred at them for making him afraid, causing him to give in and to send an innocent Man to His death.  Perhaps Pilate wanted the world to read this notice and to mock not just the King of the cross but the Jews, the King’s supposed subjects.  But what he wrote was the truth.  This was Jesus of Nazareth who was hanging on the cross.  And He was the King of the Jews.  And He was put to death for being the King of the Jews, yes the King of those who were the true Israel, of those who confess Him as their Lord and their King.  Jesus had said to Pilate in John 19:11

“You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

But Pilate had received that authority to condemn Jesus, King Jesus, to death.  But the time would soon come when this Jesus, the King of the Jews, would once more be exalted.  He would soon have the nations for His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession.  (Psalm 2:8)  His throne would be forever, and His dominion would never end.


2. The Conquest of the King.

At His crucifixion, Pilate wrote the inscription that said “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.”  Pilate did it perhaps to insult the Jews. And the Jewish leaders were indeed offended.  But God saw to it that the world might be told just who it was who was hanging on that cross:  Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

And Pilate had this written in three languages: in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin.  And many people read the title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city.  It was written in Hebrew, the language of the Jews.  It was written in Greek, the language commonly spoken throughout the Roman empire.  And it was written in Latin, the language of Rome itself and of its government.  And so while He may have died as “The King of the Jews”  He never was just the King of the Jews.  Rather, Christ’s relationship to the world extended beyond the borders of Israel:  He was crucified as the Savior of the world.  And it would not be long before He would be declared King of the whole world.  On Good Friday His head wore a crown of thorns and in His hand there was a reed.  But even as He wore that crown and held that reed, He believed that there would be for Him a golden crown and a rod of iron.  And He knew that the day will come when at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is King!  On that day, He will return on the clouds of heaven and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him.  And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.  (Rev. 1:7)  On that day He will cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation and on that day He will refuse all mockers and revilers from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.  (1 Cor. 6:10)  On that day He shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel. 

And then, as it says in Revelation 19, He will have on His head many crowns and “from His mouth will go a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.  And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.  He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God.  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  (Rev. 19:15,16)

But that is not all there is to the conquest of Christ.  What is even greater and more wonderful is that some of those who spat Him would soon kiss Him. 

“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way.”  (Psalm 2:12) 

There were some of those who had first mocked the Son but who later turned to Him and lived.  When Christ was crucified there were soldiers keeping guard at the cross.  And when payment for sin and the curse was completed they began to see Christ not as the man they had mockingly jeered a few hours before.  They began to see Him for who He is.  Concerning some of the soldiers, Matthew 27:54 says,

“So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Christ died for those very men who had reviled Him and spat on Him. 

And Acts 6:7 tells us that when the Word of God spread, “a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  From the priests, who before had also joined in spitting Him, the priests, who had answered Pilate saying, “We have no king but Caesar!” Christ claimed some for His own.

Christ defeated Satan and his dark dominion so completely that He could enter Satan’s strongholds at will, and even cause those who had abused and spat Him to turn to Him in faith and be joined to His Kingdom!

But now what about you?  Will you receive this Jesus, the One who hung on a cross, will you receive this Jesus as your King?  Will you receive Him as the One who came to pay for sin – your sin and my sin – so that we might be saved from that sin and be brought into His Kingdom?

Jesus Christ, the One who was robed in an soldier’s robe, the One who wore a crown of thorns, the One who was mocked and beaten, is the King whom we were waiting for.  The inscription was right:  this was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.  And even More, this was Jesus who is the Christ, the King of all the earth.  For through His suffering and through the Cross, He received the victory so that he could be our King forever. 

When Jesus was crucified Pilate wrote a sign that said “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  And so He was.  And so He is.  He is my King:  may He be yours as well.  Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2015, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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