Midweek Lent - 5: Testimonies about Jesus from Unlikely Witnesses

Preached: March 5, 2008

Mockers Testifies about Messiahship
Luke 23:35

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Savior. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit comes to stir our hearts is Luke 23

The people were standing around watching. They and the leaders mocked him saying, “He saved others, let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, the chosen one!” (Luke 23:35)

This is the Word of the Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow pilgrims to the cross:

How easily those words slipped between the mouths of the mockers! “He saved others, let him save himself, if he is the Christ . . .” But that title for Jesus, calling him the Christ, tells what his work is all about. How casually that awesome name came through their lips to curse and denigrate him! How could they!

And how could we! For even among us that glorious name is spat out as an expression of anger or frustration. It even dirties lips as a byword. “But, Pastor, I don't even realize it when I do it. I don't really mean it.” That's the problem. We treat that name like common trash. We throw it out of our mouths without even thinking about it.

And this makes all of us guilty, even you who never misuse that name in cursing or swearing. For even when we properly use Christ, for example when we pray or sing a hymn, we fail to always fully consider and appreciate the depth and meaning of that name and the blessing it brings us. Even in our spiritual moments we are guilty of not giving the name of Christ it's proper glory. And like any sin, this ought to damn us.

But it's in that very name that you have forgiveness and eternal life. So let's think about that title, Christ, tonight.

That name Christ is the Greek for the Hebrew word Messiah. Christ and Messiah mean the same. They point us to the official work that the Father sent Jesus to do. Now as those mockers use that name Christ, or if they were speaking Aramaic, Messiah, they, unwittingly, summed up that official work. “He saved others.” That says it all. That's the Father had commissioned his Son to do That's the work of the Christ, the Messiah. That's what Messiahship is all about. Maybe those mockers were only thinking of him saving the sick by healing them, but his work went far beyond that. He came to save others, namely sinners like you and me. He came to save us at the cost of his own life. That's why he didn't save himself. He came to save us from sin and death by suffering for our sins and dying our death. He is the Christ, the Messiah. That name is forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life for all who believe.

But the picture in the title Christ or Messiah is even fuller. Messiah and Christ both mean “anointed one.” In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were sometimes anointed with olive oil poured on their heads to show that they had a special office or work, namely, the work of a prophet, priest, or king.

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit to do that greatest work of all, to save sinners as our Prophet, Priest, and King. His saving work carries out this three-fold office. In fact, that's what he was doing, as these mockers ridicule him. He was doing the work of the Christ, the Messiah, even as they tried to deny it.

On the cross, Jesus is the Prophet. Now the work of God's prophets is to speak God's message, to speak his Word. Sometimes that message may be about the future, but it may also tell us of the past or the present. The time factor isn't important. Rather the key is that the message is from God, which is what the Bible is.

Throughout the ages God's message to sinful people like us, is consistently the message of Law that convicts and condemns us as sinners and the message of Gospel, the Good News of life that proclaims free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ, God's Son. From the cross, Jesus Christ, the anointed Prophet, proclaimed both.

As we see Jesus on the cross, we see how serious and deadly our sin is. We sang in the hymn: “If you think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great, here you see its nature rightly, here its guilty may estimate” (Christian Worship 127:3)

But even more so, the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus, shines from the cross. Here you see the depth and greatness of God's love. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 NIV). Here you see your forgiveness and life. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7 NIV). “[W]hoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). See your Prophet, the Christ proclaim this Good News from his cross and believe.

In the Old Testament, the priests offered the sacrifices for the people. The people would bring their animal. The priests slaughtered it, poured out the blood, and offered it as a sacrifice to the Lord.

On the cross Jesus, the Anointed One, the Christ, did the work of your Priest. He offered himself as the sacrifice in your place -- not the blood of animals, but the blood of the Son of God, his holy, precious blood poured out for you. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV). Only his perfect sacrifice turns God's anger away from us. Only his innocent death satisfies divine justice. Only his blood, the blood of God, washes you clean. “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, purifies us from all sin . . . He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 1:7; 2:2 NIV).

And on the cross he did the work of your King. He crushed the head of your enemy, Satan, the ancient Serpent and won you freedom from sin's power to damn. On the cross, he purchased you to be his own people, citizens of his kingdom. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and has made to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory and power for ever and ever” (Revelation 1:5, 6).

Jesus saving work is his work as your Prophet, Priest, and King. It is the work he did for you on the cross, the work of the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, It is his saving work. Think of that every time you use that special title, Christ. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313