Here is my sermon for Tuesday of Holy Week.
Today I compare the somebody’s and the nobody’s. It turns out, the nobody’s are far better at recognizing Jesus than the somebody’s.
As for the Palm Sunday sermon, it was supposed to post on … Palm Sunday. Not sure what happened. Oh well, enjoy today’s sermon. (After the Jump)
The Jews needed to get rid of Jesus. He was a threat to their lifestyle. If the messiah had come, there would be no more need for the sacrifices in the temple. The people would not come to the temple. They would no longer be in charge. Jesus had to go.
Pilate needed to get rid of Jesus. He was making the Jews angry, nearly riotous. Pilate, who had friends in high places in Rome once upon a time, had seen those friends fall from grace. Pilate did not fall, because he was so far away, and mostly out of sight, out of mind. A riot would bring him back to the attention of the emperor. That would not be good. This man, who refused to even defend himself, who seemed to want to die, could destroy him just by being there. And so, Pilate gave in to the demand, even knowing Jesus was innocent.
Those in power need to get rid of Jesus. And yet, Jesus is not after worldly power. He is absolutely no threat to them. It doesn’t matter. He threatens the status quo, so he must be destroyed.
Meanwhile, we are told that Simon of Cyrene – a nobody – carried his cross. Mark includes a small, but very important detail. Simon is the father of Alexander and Rufus. How did Mark know this? Did he track down Simon, just to ask who his children were? A long journey to Cyrene, just to verify an insignificant detail? Or was Simon known to the early church? Were his children known? How could that be, unless they themselves were part of the church? A random stranger, pulled from the crowd to carry the Cross of Jesus, and it seems almost certain that he and his family recognized who Jesus was and what he did.
The centurion, unnamed. A nobody as far as the history books are concerned. But he knew who Jesus was. Truly this man was the Son of God. He had no dog in this fight. He was a soldier, stationed far from home. What was this to him? Yet, even he recognized that Jesus was something different from the other criminals that were crucified.
Even the temple curtain bore witness to Jesus. It was torn in two from top to bottom. The high priest was only one to go past the temple curtain, the only one who could enter the holy of holies, and even that was only on the day of atonement. But now, the temple curtain is torn. Jesus has entered the holy of holies. He has made the sacrifice. And now, even the temple must recognize that it’s purpose is fulfilled. It’s usefulness has ended. It existed to point toward the promised one. Now the promised one has come, has entered the holy of holies with his own blood, and has made the final, perfect sacrifice.
The great men needed rid of Jesus. The nobody’s recognized him. The temple itself recognized him. Jesus is not about impressing the great men. Jesus is about saving people who need saving. People like that centurion, people like Simon of Cyrene, like Alexander and Rufus. People who recognize their sin, who know they are in need of saving from death. That is what he does. That is what his death does. It saves from death. The animals no longer need be slaughtered by the thousands. Jesus saves them. Barabbas was condemned to die, but he goes free. Jesus saved him. You belonged to Satan, you were his by right, from the moment of your conception, because you are a sinner. And so, Jesus saves you as well.
You aren’t important to Jesus because of your position in the world, or because of how much you can do for him. You are important to Jesus because he is the sort to love even his enemies. He is, with your Father in heaven and Holy Spirit, the one true God. He was there at the creation, he was there at your conception. The Father knit you together in your mother’s womb, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And God would not have you be destroyed. He loves you enough to save you not only from Satan, but from yourself. From your own sin. From all that is in you that would take you away from him.
Jesus loves you. Jesus saves you. That’s who he is and what he does.