Christ the King Sunday
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus, the King eternal and your Savior, dear friends in Christ, why does she do what she does? That’s what I asked myself when I heard about her story. Kayla Montgomery is an 18 year old distance runner. Earlier this year she made multiple national news stories. She’s broken many distance running records and is one of the fastest distance runners in the country. But that’s not why she made the news. What’s different about Kayla is that she has MS – multiple sclerosis. It’s a disease where your own immune system actually attacks your nerves, damaging them, blocking messages that are supposed to go through those nerves and it affects your mobility, balance, vision, and speech. To make an understatement: It makes running very difficult for her. While running she literally loses all feeling in her legs. She so focuses on running the race that it feels like she’s floating and just across the finish line of every race she literally collapses into the arms of her coach and fellow teammates. It’s painful, it’s a struggle, it’s not easy. So, I ask, “Why does she do what she does?” Why? Because she wants to run, she wants to beat it, she loves to run, and in her own words her mobility is a gift right now so she wants to make every day that she runs the best so she doesn’t waste that gift. That’s why she does what she does.
So here’s another question: What about you? Why do you do what you do? Have you ever spent some time thinking about that before? Why do you live the way you live? Why do you do the things that you do? What’s your purpose? What’s your motivation? What makes you tick? What keeps you going through the daily struggles, the daily grind, the daily problems of life? Why do you do the things that you do each day?
Why do you do what you do as a husband? Why do you do what you do as a wife? Why do you do what you do as a parent? Why do you go to work? Why do you take care of your body? Why are you friendly to people you don’t even know? Why do you go to church? Why do you work hard on your homework? Why do you pray with your children at night? Why do you pay your taxes? Why do you go to school? Why do you play sports?
Well, what’s the answer? Maybe, we do what we do in order to avoid pain. Maybe we go to work because we don’t want to lose our job or lose our source of income. Maybe we’re nice to our spouses because we know life would be miserable otherwise. Maybe we take care of our bodies because we don’t want to have health problems. Maybe we go to school because our parents make you. Maybe we come to church because our parents make us. Maybe we come to church because we think God would be upset with us if we didn’t and make our life miserable. Maybe we’re nice to our friends because we want them to be there for us when we need them. Maybe we do what we do because that’s what we’ve always done and haven’t really thought about doing anything else. Why do you do what you do? Those are all fine reasons, but none of those ought to be THE reason we do what we do.
Finally God is always after our hearts. Why do we do what we do? There can only be one of two answers to that question. Either we do what we do to serve our Lord and King or we do what we do to serve something else- and most likely it’s ourselves. There’s no in between ground there. In fact, God cares more about why we do what we do than what we do. For if our hearts are right with him, our actions will follow. Right actions but a wrong heart are just as sinful, wicked, and disgusting to God as wrong actions with a wrong heart.
If the main reason we do what we do is because we want to have a better life, we want to have more things, we want life to be more smooth for us, we want people to like us, then our actions may be all good, but God detests our hearts. God wants to be, yes, he demands to be at the heart and core of all our actions. God wants love for Him to be the sole motivation for everything that we do. God wants grateful service to Him to stem from hearts overflowing with thanks to Him.
But what do we find in our hearts? Why do we do what we do? “I want to serve me. I want what’s best for me. It’s my life that matters and no one else’s. I want to be king of my life and no one else. Everything and everybody should serve my interests.” Who is the king of your life? Why do you do what you do?
Well, our text is really screaming that question at us, isn’t it? Why did they do what they did? Why did Pilate, the soldiers, do what they did? Let’s think about that: Serving your military duty in Jerusalem, the land of the Jews, was probably not a very coveted military assignment. Archaeologists have actually uncovered what many to believe was a game Roman soldiers would play called the “Basileus” or “king” game. Apparently they would dress up a doll as a mock king and beat the stuffing out of it. Then, once a year, the governor would actually allow them to do this with one of the prisoners. Could this be what they were doing here? We’re told the whole company of soldiers gathered around him. That’s literally the whole “cohort” (a cohort was 1/10 of a legion) so 600 soldiers? It does say the “whole cohort” but even if we assume they weren’t all there this is at least several hundred soldiers! They put on a scarlet robe- probably a old, faded military mantle around him. A king, of course, needs a crown, so they twisted together a crown of thorns and smashed that on His head. A king also needs a scepter so they put a staff in his hand, they mocked him by getting down on their knees saying, “Hail! King of the Jews!” Then they show their utter contempt for Jesus by actually spitting on Him – spitting on someone is one of the most disgusting insults one human being can give to another. And then they took the staff and beat him on the head with it again and again and again. This king’s authority was less than nothing, anyone could take his staff and beat him with it. Why did they do what they did? Jesus became their cheap entertainment for the morning.
What about Pilate? Why did he do what he did? Why did he allow this injustice, this brutality, this lynch mob? Pilate, as you know, was not on the best terms with the Jewish people. The leaders of the Jews had brought Jesus to him as someone subverting the nation and claiming to be a king. It seems that Pilate is here sending a message to the Jews. “You said this guy is a king? Look at him! He’s completely powerless against my soldiers who flog him, beat him, mock him at will. The mere thought, the idea that this guy is a king is absolutely ridiculous! It’s ludicrous! There’s no way this pathetic excuse for a man could possibly be a threat to anybody, much less us Romans!”
It’s shocking for us to see Jesus here. This is our Savior, this is, in fact, our King. Let us not forget why He is here. I don’t think there’s one of us here who would even consider treating another human being like this, much less even consider treating our Savior with such violence and brutality. But keep in mind, those soldiers were born from the same two humans that you and I come from. You and I were born into this world infected with the exact same disease that prompted the soldiers to do this: sin. No, we probably wouldn’t have treated or mocked Jesus in the way the soldiers did. But are we satisfied in mocking him in less obvious ways? Are we satisfied by mocking Jesus by thinking we are where we are in life because WE got ourselves here, WE earned it, WE deserved it? When in reality EVERYTHING we have and are is because of God. Do we mock Jesus by knowing clearly what He tells us in His Word and yet doing the opposite or disobeying Him? Do we mock Jesus by living our lives as if we are king? That God is here to serve ME? Why do you do what you do?
But perhaps an even better question is: Why did Jesus do what He did? It’s one thing to be subject to cruel beating and mocking because you have no power to get out of it, but it’s a whole different thing to undergo it and have the power to end it at any moment. Don’t forget here who Jesus is: He’s the one whose birth was announced by an angel who said, “He is Christ the LORD!” This is the same Jesus who calms furious storms with the breath from his mouth, this is he who multiplies food in his hands, who heals terminal illnesses with a touch, who calls people back to life from death, who knocks an army of soldiers flat on the ground by saying, “I am he,” whose face shone like the brightness of the sun! Remember who’s being beaten, mocked, and spit upon here. It’s Christ: the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Ruler of the universe, the eternal and almighty GOD!! What’s far more shocking about this account is not what we’re reading, but what we don’t read. No earth swallowing the soldiers, no lightning blasting them away, no sudden heart attacks, if I was king this would probably end a lot differently.
So I ask again: Why did Jesus do what he did? There is only one answer that suffices. There can be only one explanation. He is a King like none other. He is the King of whom it’s going to take an eternity to understand His grace and love for humans. Why did Jesus do what he did? He came to this earth with the express purpose to serve the human race in the greatest way, to suffer the full punishment of a world chock full of sins. He is the King who came to suffer degradation, despisal, damnation and death so you and I don’t have to. He is the King who endured all of this to pay for each and every one of your sins to guarantee to you a home in His heavenly kingdom forever. That’s why Jesus did what he did.
And that’s why you do what you do, isn’t it? What motivates you? What makes you tick? Why do you do what you do? You do what you do because you have a King like none other who suffered and died for you, who loves you beyond all comprehension, and whose grace and mercy are too incredible to grasp. That’s why you go to work, that’s why you take care of your family, that’s why you love your spouse, that’s why you help people. That’s why you do what you do. Think about that this week with every task you do, with every job you undertake, with every activity that you begin: Why do I do what I do? Amen.