Holy Week Tuesday Sermon

Once again, we see the contradiction. Paul says that Jesus made the good confession before Pilate. But Jesus says only two words. When Pilate asks “Are you the king of the Jews”, Jesus answers “su legeis” “You say”. It is often translated “You say that I am.” It is the Ancient equivalent of “Yes, I am”. Jesus does not deny, and his answer is not some clever evasion. “You say that I am” was the way you would answer an important question, under oath. You wouldn’t just say, “Yes.” Or “no” like we do today. Jesus is saying, “Yes I am a king.” And so his answer is a confession of who he is. But Pilate can not believe that Jesus is any sort of threat to Rome. If he is a king, he is the strangest most un-political king in history.

The charge that is brought to Pilate wasn’t even the charge Jesus was convicted of by the Sanhedrin. The charge against him by the High Priest was blasphemy. That’s what the High Priest should have charged him with, if he was being honest. But Rome had no interest in crucifying blasphemers of the Jewish religion. So the charge he was convicted of in the court of Caiaphas is set aside, and they charge him with attempting to overthrow Rome. We are told they hurled all sorts of other charges at him as well. Probably the same ones they tried at the trial before Caiaphas, when no two witnesses could agree, even when they lied, and so no charge could be proved.

But even with Jesus admission, the charge of being a king is laughable. He is no king. Pilate doesn’t believe the charge even after Jesus admits to it. So the priests throw all of the other charges at him again. Like his earlier trial before the Sanhedrin, He doesn’t answer. He has given his answer. He is a king. Of course, he is not a king as the world sees it. Pilate tries to let him go free. All efforts fail. The Good confession Jesus makes is “su legeis” “so you say.” Then his confession is his silence. None of the charges are even worthy of a response. He does not deny who he is, but neither does he defend himself against absurd charges. And so the Word of God remains silent, and in doing so, makes the good confession. He is our example in this regard. The church confesses the truth, and then suffers whatever indignities the world throws at it. It is not our job to defeat every trumped up charge the world throws at us. It is our task to fix our eyes on Jesus, to take up our cross daily and follow him. To love the world, and to forgive the world, even as the world persecutes and oftentimes condemns and martyrs those of the church. That is the good confession. That is the way of Jesus. The way of the cross. The way of salvation.

The ancient church father, Gregory Nazianzen notes the apparent contradictions in the life of Jesus. Contradictions that are necessary for the salvation Jesus gives:


He was baptized as Man—but He remitted sins as God—not because He needed purification rites Himself, but that He might sanctify the element of water.  He was tempted as Man, but He conquered as God; and so He bids us be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world.  He hungered—but He fed thousands; for, He is the Bread that gives life, and That life is from heaven.  He thirsted—but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink, and He promised that fountains should flow from them that believe.  He was wearied, but He is the Rest of those that are weary and heavy laden…

He prays, but He hears prayer.  He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.  He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God. He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world, and at a great price, for the Price was His own blood. As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.  As a Lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word, and is proclaimed by the Voice of one crying in the wilderness. He is bruised and wounded, but He heals every disease and every infirmity. He is lifted up and nailed to the Tree, but by the Tree of Life He restores us; yes, He saves even the Robber crucified with Him…  He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall.  Who?  He who turned the water into wine, who is the destroyer of the bitter taste, who is Sweetness and altogether desire. He lays down His life, but He has power to take it again; The veil is torn, for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened; the rocks are split, the dead arise.  He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death.  He is buried, but He rises again; He goes down into Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.

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