King of Kings
“Richard Dawkins is the author of The God Delusion. He was formerly Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He once debated John Lennox who is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. They debated the existence of God. At one point Dawkins says of John Lennox:
He believes that the creator of the universe, the God who devised the laws of physics, the laws of mathematics, the physical constants … that this genius of mathematics and physical science could not think of a better way to rid the world of sin than to come to this little speck of cosmic dust and have himself tortured and executed so that he could forgive.
That, says Dawkins, is profoundly unscientific. Not only is it unscientific, but it doesn't do justice to the grandeur of the universe. Why would God bother entering into our small and broken planet? Dawkins chided Lennox and all Christians for believing in that kind of God.
God’s only and eternal Son on a Roman cross? Despised and rejected by men on this tiny planet. It’s like being blind-sided in the subway station on a Friday morning in Washington DC in a hurry to get to work and you pass by one of the most brilliant violinists in the world playing some of the most beautiful music in the world on one of the most expensive violins in the world. You don’t expect to see the master violinist performing in such a dirty, undignified place. But that is the very point. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners.”
Charles Price in his sermon: “God's Power in Unexpected Places,” PreachingToday.Com (March, 2014).
Confused by teenagers
I’ve been confused by teenagers and how and why they do things
What doesn’t make logical sense to me, makes perfect sense to them
They just ate, but now they have to run to a restaurant or convenience store to get more food, because they’re hungry
There’s perfectly good food in the house, but there’s nothing good to eat
They just left spending time with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but now they have to text them, Snapchat them, Instagram them, call them, etc.
They have friends over to hang out, but either play a one-player game on their game system or they all sit around spending time on their phones, not talking to each other
Confused in a conversation
There have been times when I’m confused in a conversation, because the person started the conversation in their mind and when they begin to verbalize the conversation they are part way through it
I always have to stop them and asked a few questions, to get caught up with the “private” part of the conversation
There have been times in my life when I have been confused by God’s plan for my life
I entered college without knowing what I wanted to major in
I’ve left jobs, without knowing where God was leading
But what I’ve found is that while I may initially be confused by God’s leading and His plan, His sovereign will has always been what is right for me
Perhaps we have all experienced at least one if not all three of these scenarios in our own lives
It can be frustrating, but God’s sovereignty is always best for us
As Jesus is led away to be crucified, we’ll see God’s sovereignty at work as Scripture is fulfilled again and again and as Pilate gives Jesus the correct title. Through this passage, John wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – God is sovereign.
GOD (John 19:16b-27)
Christ’s Cross (vv. 16b-18)
The Roman soldiers take charge of Jesus (NIV)
This makes the most sense as we continue to look at this passage
Most other translations simply say that “they” took charge of Jesus
As a condemned person of the Roman state, it would have been the task of the Roman soldiers to lead a prisoner through the city streets, making sure that everyone saw the sign that identified their crime(s)
Since crucifixion was the punishment, it was the responsibility of the Roman soldiers to take charge of Jesus
Jesus is carrying His own cross at this point
The soldiers and Jesus would have left the praetorium and started their journey through the city streets
After being beaten, the soldiers would parade the prisoner through the city streets, using the longest route possible, to the location of the crucifixion
This served two purposes:
It allowed for the largest number of people to see the charges of the accused
It would prolong and increase the suffering of the prisoner
The Roman soldiers perhaps found great satisfaction in causing the greatest amount of pain and suffering
Simon of Cyrene
While John doesn’t mention Simon of Cyrene, it doesn’t mean that John’s Gospel is in conflict with the Synoptic Gospels
John simply says that Jesus was carrying His own cross, which is true when they started out
At some point along the arduous route, the Roman soldiers force Simon of Cyrene to finish carrying Jesus’ cross
Most images of Jesus carrying His cross show the horizontal and vertical pieces together [show image]
It was most likely that Jesus was only carrying the cross beam (the horizontal part) [show image]
“The upright piece normally was stationed at the execution site, and the victim would then carry the heavy cross piece to which he would later be attached at the site. The cross piece with the victim attached to it would then be raised and fixed or dropped onto the upright pole through a slot in the cross piece.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 262]
Jesus is carrying his cross to a location just outside the city gates
This would have been a high traffic area for people coming and going into the city
Choosing a high traffic area was intentional
The Roman officials wanted to make sure that as many people as possible would see what happens to those who disobey Roman law
It was designed as a visual deterrent for anyone thinking about rebelling or pursuing evil
Several names, same meaning
Primary – place of the Skull
Aramaic – gulgoltâ (Golgotha is an English transliteration of the Greek, which is a transliteration of the Aramaic) [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 609]
Latin – calvaria also means “skull” and is where we get our English word “Calvary” [Carson, 609]
John also tells us that Jesus was not crucified alone
Between two others
There were two other men who were crucified at the same time – one on either side of Jesus
“The ‘two others,’ identified more explicitly in Matthew (27:38) and in Mark (15:27) as ‘terrorists’ and in Luke (23:33) as ‘criminals,’ are introduced abruptly, with no explanation as to why they are being crucified . . .” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 949]
Some believe that they were friends of Barabbas and had been arrested for being insurrectionists/rebels
Some see a fulfillment of the Isaiah and the Psalmist’s words
Isaiah 53:12, Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Psalm 22:16, Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. (it could also represent the soldiers)
If Isaiah and the Psalmist are speaking of the two criminals in these passages, then we see the sovereignty of God through the fulfilling of Scripture
God is sovereign!
John gives us an aside that helps us continue to understand God’s sovereignty in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus
Christ’s Crown (vv. 19-22)
Pilate probably told the soldiers what to write about Jesus
It’s unlikely that Pilate wrote the notice himself
It was then attached to Jesus cross
Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews
The first part is the identification of the prisoner
They listed His name
They also listed where He was from
The second part was His crime
Pilate put down what the Jews had determined in their trial, but had refused to tell him
The Jews had determined that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, because He said He was equal with God
Matthew 26:63b-65, The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered.
Pilate, through the sovereignty of God, makes Jesus equal with God – he exalts Him to the throne
While Jesus is certainly King of the Jews, He is far more than that – He is King of kings!
“This notice serves to indicate at least three things: (1) Jesus’ conviction on the charge of treason; (2) Pilate’s resentful exacting of a small measure of revenge upon the Jews; and (3) symbolism regarding Jesus being the Savior of the world (Carson 1991: 611).” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 544]
John tells us that many Jews read the sign, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city (again in a high traffic area, during Passover, with hundreds of thousands of people in Jerusalem)
Written in three languages
Common languages of the day
Pilate’s notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek
Aramaic was the language of religion (the Jews, Judea)
Latin was the language of government (the Romans)
Greek was the language of commerce (everyone spoke Greek)
Having the notice written in the three common languages of the day served to make sure that everyone knew the charges against the accused
No one could claim ignorance
Symbolism of the three languages
Many scholars see symbolism in the notice being written in the three common languages of the day
The symbolism is that while Jesus is accused of being King of the Jews, His kingdom, once established, would be for everyone!
We know this to be true even 2,000 years later
Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension made a way for all of humanity to be in a right relationship with God
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Corinthians 5:20b-21, We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Repent of my sins, believe in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, and receive God’s eternal life.
While Pilate exalts Jesus to the throne, the Jewish religious leaders are not happy about it
The chief priests protest
The chief priests understood the significance of Pilate’s notice
It wasn’t lost on them that the notice was being read by thousands of people
They wanted Pilate to change it, so that everyone who read it would not associate Jesus of Nazareth with their religious beliefs and practices – He was not their king!
That was the whole purpose in why they wanted Him dead
They wanted Pilate to change the notice to read that Jesus said, “I am the King of the Jews.” (NASB, NLT, ESV)
It was a way of differentiating between Jesus and the Jewish religion
“No, I’m not going to change it.”
“What I have written, I have written.”
We see God’s sovereignty again!
With whatever intentions Pilate wrote the notice, God, in His sovereignty, used it to announce Jesus’ kingship, authority, and power
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is King of kings; no matter what others think or say.
Scripture tells us this
Philippians 2:9, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name
Ephesians 1:19b-21, That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Revelation 19:16, On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Over the years, our educational system has tried to rewrite history, by taking God and religion out of the lives of our founding fathers and out of our textbooks
They have also tried to take God and Jesus out of schools, by eliminating prayer and telling students they can’t bring their Bibles to school
There are individuals who try to say that Jesus was a good person, a great teacher, a prophet (perhaps), but not the Son of God
Unbelievers don’t want to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives
But no matter what our culture thinks or says, it doesn’t change, eliminate, or remove the fact that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords
We can and should rejoice in this fact today
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Worship the sovereign God, who established Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
We saw the sovereignty of God through Pilate’s notice, but we also see it through the dividing of Jesus’ clothing
Christ’s Clothing (vv. 23-24)
God used a tradition that had probably been established for years in order to accomplish His sovereign will and plan
However this custom began, it was well established by the time of Jesus’ crucifixion
I can imagine that, initially, the pieces of clothing were probably discarded
Then one day, one of the soldiers realizes that an article of clothing from someone who was crucified was in better condition than the piece of clothing he owned
He decides to take the piece of clothing and before you know it, the other soldiers are looking at the condemned criminals in a different light (we need to make sure we flog them after we get that nice robe off)
Maybe they’re even talking about who is going to get which article of clothing as they’re parading the criminal through the streets of the city
All of this happens under the divine sovereignty of God Almighty
There were obviously five articles of clothing and four soldiers who were tasked with crucifying Jesus
The four articles of clothing that were divided were probably His head covering (turban?), a belt, possibly sandals, and an outer cloak [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 527]
The fifth piece of clothing would have been His tunic (“undergarment”)
John tells us that it was woven as one piece from top to bottom
There were no seams, because it was one piece
This was a common practice in the 1st Century
It also protected Jews from breaking Jewish law
Deuteronomy 22:11, Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.
If the tunic was woven in one piece, with no seams, they could ensure that it would not break this law
Instead of cutting the tunic into four pieces, the soldiers decide to cast lots to see who would get the full tunic
Fulfillment of Scripture
The casting of lots for Jesus’ tunic happened to fulfill Old Testament Scripture
Psalm 22:18, They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
God is sovereign!
God’s sovereignty is still evident today
What is God’s sovereignty?
Sovereignty is power and authority displayed by God
Sovereignty – God has the right to rule and He rules rightly
Sovereignty – God has the right to plan my life. He has the right to rule and make any decision He wants to. He has the right change things.
Psalm 22:28, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
Isaiah 44:6, “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
Do you believe that God has the right plan for your life?
Perhaps you’re looking for a husband or a wife and you’re wondering if God is every going to bring the right person into your life
Maybe you’re trying to decide about college or entering the work force
You may be trying to figure out the next step in your career
Some of you may be trying to decide whether or not to move
Others of you are struggling with financial decisions
There may be someone here who is struggling with spiritual decisions (submitting to Jesus, determining where you should be going to church, trying to decide whether or not to go to church at all)
Everyone is probably struggling with how to act and react to COVID-19 and the civil unrest in our country
Our church is praying about the next step that God wants for us
In God’s sovereignty, He has the right plan for your life
Are you trusting Him for the right plan?
Are you asking Him to reveal to you His plan?
Are you sacrificing other things (food, recreation, etc.) in order to seek His face about His plan for you?
God’s sovereignty is always best for us!
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Seek God for His sovereign plan for me and then trust Him to fulfill it.
God fulfilled His sovereign plan of redemption through Pilate two criminals, and four soldiers, so He can fulfill His sovereign for you
In the final three verses, this morning, we see the beautiful fulfillment of a Son’s commitment to His mother
Christ’s Commitment (vv. 25-27)
There are four women and one man who are at the place of the skull – they are right there with Jesus until the very end
Matthew and Mark state that there were more woman there, but John only mentions these four
Jesus’ mother, Mary
Mary’s sister, perhaps Salome (James and Greater and John’s mother)
Mary the wife of Clopas (the mother of James the Less and Joses)
John doesn’t mention his own name, but uses the term that Jesus used for him – the disciple whom He loved
If Jesus’ mother’s sister is Salome, then John the Beloved would have been Jesus’ cousin
This would make Jesus’ next statement more understandable
Jesus was the first-born son of Mary and with that distinction came some responsibility
Fulfillment of first-born responsibility
Most scholars agree that Mary was probably widowed at this point, otherwise Joseph would have provided for her and taken care of her
Jesus’ half-brothers were not yet His disciples
“The traditional role of the oldest son in a Jewish family was to provide for the care of the mother when the husband or father of the house was no longer around to care for the mother. It seems clear that Jesus here fulfilled his family responsibility as a dutiful son.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 269]
Jesus completes His commitment as the first-born son and ensures that His mother will be taken care of after He is gone
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we honor our parents.
Jesus gave us a beautiful example of honoring His mother to the very end
Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
1 Timothy 5:8, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Honor my parents by taking care of them.
Have I accepted God’s sovereign of redemption?
Have I worshiped God for establishing Jesus as the King of kings?
Am I trusting God’s sovereign plan for my life?
Am I honoring my parents by taking care of them?
God’s sovereign plan is always best for us, so will you commit to pray with the leadership of the church for His next step for us?
“In her book The God Who Hung on the Cross, journalist Ellen Vaughn retells a gripping story of how the Gospel came to a small village in Cambodia. In September 1999 Pastor Tuy Seng (not his real name) traveled to Kampong Thom Province in northern Cambodia. Throughout that isolated area, most villagers had cast their lot with Buddhism or spiritism. Christianity was virtually unheard of.
But much to Seng's surprise, when he arrived in one small, rural village the people warmly embraced him and his message about Jesus. When he asked the villagers about their openness to the gospel, an old woman shuffled forward, bowed, and grasped Seng's hands as she said, ‘We have been waiting for you for twenty years.’ And then she told him the story of the mysterious God who had hung on the cross.
In the 1970s the Khmer Rouge, the brutal, Communist-led regime, took over Cambodia, destroying everything in its path. When the soldiers finally descended on this rural, northern village in 1979, they immediately rounded up the villagers and forced them to start digging their own graves. After the villagers had finished digging, they prepared themselves to die. Some screamed to Buddha, others screamed to demon spirits or to their ancestors.
One of the women started to cry for help based on a childhood memory—a story her mother told her about a God who had hung on a cross. The woman prayed to that unknown God on a cross. Surely, if this God had known suffering, he would have compassion on their plight.
Suddenly, her solitary cry became one great wail as the entire village started praying to the God who had suffered and hung on a cross. As they continued facing their own graves, the wailing slowly turned to a quiet crying. There was an eerie silence in the muggy jungle air. Slowly, as they dared to turn around and face their captors, they discovered that the soldiers were gone.
As the old woman finished telling this story, she told Pastor Seng that ever since that humid day from 20 years ago the villagers had been waiting, waiting for someone to come and share the rest of the story about the God who had hung on a cross.”
Doris I. Rosser & Ellen Vaughn, The God Who Hung on the Cross (Zondervan, 2003), pp. 35-37.
God is sovereign!