Alfred Place Baptist Church

14:63-65 The condemnation of Christ

Mark 14: 63-65 “The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.”

The holy Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the great physician, the preacher of the sermon on the mount, is on trial for his life before the Sanhedrin, which was the most important religious court the world had ever known. When he holds his peace they have no case against him, but when he speaks he expresses himself to the court as clearly as he can. “Yes, I am the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus is claiming to be absolute God in as categorical a way as is possible.

1. IF WHAT CHRIST IS SAYING IS TRUE HE IS NOT BLASPHEMING.

They have brought a series of witnesses to the stand and one by one they have failed to impress the Sanhendrin. They have stepped down in confusion. The court has unearthed nothing at all to justly warrant a guilty verdict on Jesus, but then Christ is put under oath and he speaks. He gives a wonderfully clear and circumscribed statement as to who he is. What he tells them is that he is God. The only God there is is Jesus. He is Jehovah in the flesh. He has all the names of God, and all the titles of God; he has all the prerogatives of God and all the attributes of God. He is the Creator of all things; he is the God of providence; he is the Judge of all mankind; he is almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, omnicompetent, infinite and eternal. Whatever God is Jesus is.

That is what every Christian believes about our Lord because every Christian has read the Bible, but you don’t believe it because you’ve left the Bible unread. We’ve heard the New Testament preached to us; we have searched for ourselves the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and so we’ve come to faith. “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Roms. 10:14). We have made ourselves familiar with the life and actions and words of Jesus of Nazareth, and one result of that has been that God has given us a whole new insight into the Lord Christ. God has transformed our beliefs and ideas about this very man standing here in the dock before the Sanhedrin. He has imprinted indelibly on our consciences a few elementary convictions regarding Jesus of Nazareth. An intellectual revolution has taken place in our lives that has turned us into Christians. God has persuaded us that Jesus is his own Son, so that when we heard these words of Christ from the dock of the courtroom of the Sanhedrin we took them in our stride – I mean the words, “Yes, I am the Messiah the Son of the Blessed One,” because we have been conditioned to believe that this is true through our increased thinking about the whole life of Christ. Any other conclusion for us is unthinkable. Just as it is unthinkable for you who refuse to read the gospels to accept that he is God. There is no mystery at all to the fact that you don’t believe; you don’t spare a thought for Christ, but for us – how different it is – we believe that this man standing here on trial for his life is today sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and soon he’ll be coming on the clouds of heaven.

This is what we tell the world about him. We make these stupendous claims; I believe in the preexistence of Christ, that he has always been, that he was in the beginning, that he never came into being. I believe that he is the maker of heaven and earth, that he designed every leaf, and planned the trajectory of every meteor. He upholds the whole universe by the word of his power. I believe that every chemical and physical bond in the cosmos is one fashioned and maintained by the Lord of glory. When students arrive at University in this town and study mathematics or physics they are studying the thought patterns of the eternal Lord Jesus. After death we have to meet him and receive our destinies from his lips; at the end of the world he will come on the clouds of heaven. For his enemies these claims are utter blasphemy, but for those who have looked at the life of Christ they all ring true. If the mighty God became incarnate – think of it for a moment – if God came so close to us as bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh then we’d expect peerless goodness, matchless power, stupendous wisdom and immeasurable love. That is what you find in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We listen to Jesus and we have heard no blasphemy; we believe that he is God. Today we have met here and sung our praises to him and spoken to him in prayer. If he is not God then that is blasphemy, but we know and believe that he is God.

2. IF WHAT CHRIST IS SAYING IS TRUE THEN THERE IS NO NEED OF THE HISTRIONICS.

We are told, “The high priest tore his clothes” (v.63). What a gesture! The 72 members of the Sanhedrin looking on would have been startled. They knew the Old Testament incident of the news being brought to David that Saul had been killed in battle, and that then David and all the men with him tore their clothes in grief. Also they would knew that when King Hezekiah heard the blasphemies of Rabshakeh, the commander in chief of Sennacherib king of Assyria, we are told that he was overwhelmed with grief, “When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD” (2 Kings 19:1). It was an act of profound consternation, and so here in the court Caiaphas stood up and tore his clothes before them all – as soon as Jesus had finished speaking. In other words, he was putting Jesus in the same category as that blaspheming dog Rabshakeh.

Commentators suggest Caiaphas tore an inner garment like a long nightshirt worn next to the skin. I am not sure; certainly it was not the official priestly cloak, and even less the robes worn by the high priest because they would have been kept under lock and key by the Roman authorities and only loaned out for special feasts. There was probably some kind of important priestly garment designed by Caiaphas himself to distinguish him from the other members of the Sanhedrin.

Whatever . . . I think there is something more fascinating than discussing the nature of the garment which Caiaphas tore and it is this, that the practice of rending one’s garments was forbidden to the priest. He was not allowed to give expression in this way to mourning. “The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt or tear his clothes” (Lev. 21:10). The chief priest does not mourn as other men. He does not have his eyes fixed on earth; the affections of the high priest are set on the things of heaven. News of death and disaster might excite others. He himself would inwardly grieve, and might glance at the grave, but he must not howl in anguish and tear his clothes and wear sackcloth. Let the dead bury the dead, but priest of God, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. The priests did not have funeral leave; they didn’t weep at the gates of the cemetery. Their eyes were to be kept unswervingly on the living God. He is their hope; he is their destination; God does not fill the grave by accident; when we finally stand before God we will be bringing no complaints with us. He has done all things well. Don’t be detained by death O priest of God! Consecrate all your time, and strength, and gifts to Jehovah. You may not tear your garments in the presence of death. Don’t be deflected by anything on earth from your high calling. Always be returning to the centre of things.

Yet, in spite of this express prohibition of God, When Caiaphas heard these words of the Son of God he stood and rent his garments. What was the High Priest of Israel doing? Passing an instant judgment on the work of Israel’s Messiah. He was saying that Jesus of Nazareth was a dead man, and that he wouldn’t rest until he saw the Messiah and all he’d done interred in a cemetery. Caiaphas was saying that Jesus was the greatest obstacle to the work of God in Israel. “See how I destroy this expensive garment of mine,” says the priest. “The destruction of this Nazarene is worth it. We ourselves will certainly be destroyed by God if we don’t destroy him. I see the hand of Jehovah fitting the arrow in his bow and training it on us. We have to get rid of this transgressor from our midst if we are going to survive. Alas that Abraham should have given birth to such a son. Alas that someone of the line of David should blaspheme the name of the Lord.” That is the meaning of Caiaphas’ gesture. He is intimidating the faithful; he is pressurising them to stand in solidarity with him in his condemnation of the Messiah. Discussion and debate has ended. This is time for gesture politics.

What had Jesus said? “I am the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One.” Is this so impossible? Wasn’t a Messiah promised? Wasn’t it prophesied that he would be of the line of Abraham, and David? Didn’t Scripture say that he would be born in Bethlehem, and that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon him? Wouldn’t there be another one who’d go before him preparing his way, making straight in the desert a highway for our God? There was an Oxford scholar named Henry Liddon in the 19th century who traced no fewer than 332 similar Messianic prophecies to their fulfilment in Jesus. His family’s social status, his lifestyle, his general demeanour, his teaching and his extraordinary powers were all prophesied. “Caiaphas, stop! Don’t even think of tearing your clothes. Have you thought of the miraculous power of this man in the dock, that he has raised the dead? What prophet ever preached a message like the sermon on the mount? Caiaphas, what is this rending of your garment, this steamrollering your insistence that Jesus must be killed onto the whole Sanhedrin? Caiaphas is it all so impossible? Are you looking for another Christ? Another Jesus?” Of course he wasn’t. Caiaphas didn’t need anyone else to worship because he worshipped himself. There was no grief in rending his clothes. He didn’t rend his heart. When he tore his clothes he was hiding his great joy. He had triumphed over his rival. He was merely acting, but God was not acting when he tore the veil of the temple from the top to the bottom. God was dismissing the Sanhedrin, and the priesthood, and the sacrifices, and a holy city and holy land, and judges, and seventh day Sabbaths, and the yearly feasts in Jerusalem, and food laws. Their day was over and gone and a new day was dawning

Histrionics is high theatre, and in the absence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit it has come like a flood into evangelical religion today in the music, and the bands, and the lighting, and the religious costumes men wear, and altar calls, and the comedians, and the screwed up faces of the singing group, and the manipulation of a congregation to act just as the chairman, or worship leader wants the crowd to act. It shows a complete distrust in the power of the word of God and the Spirit of God to save and sanctify the people of God. Poor helpless God! We must try to help him with our devious devices or no one will ever be saved, and the grandpappy of all this wickedness was Caiaphas. Let us hate every manifestation of the flesh that rears its ugly head in the worship of God. Let us trust in the truth of Jesus Christ being plainly set before men. Let men be pressed to respond to this. To think and think and think about who Jesus of Nazareth is, and bow the knee before him. Down with histrionics! Up with truth!

3. IF WHAT CHRIST SAYS IS TRUE THEN HE’S DONE NOTHING WORTHY OF DEATH.

The chief priest said, ” ‘Why do we need any more witnesses? . . . You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death” (v.64). Every group and faction and party in the Sanhedrin condemned him to death. Every family, every age-group, every district of Jerusalem said “Death.” The wisest said, “Death,” and the most foolish said, “Death.” Those senior members and those recently appointed all said “Death.” When they took a role call there was no deviation: “Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death . . . Death.” 71 times the words sounded out. There was no hesitation, and there was no division of opinion. There was not one man who stood out among the jury and said, “Hang on a minute . . . there’s no need for us to rush . . . what about such and such? . . . I am not too happy with the death penalty for what Jesus is supposed to have done . . .” There was no such voice; there was no hung jury. There was no time needed for consultation because none was asked for. In this court there was absolute agreement; this was not a majority verdict; it was a unanimous verdict. Summarily, immediately, unanimously they said, “Guilty as charged.” “They all condemned him as worthy of death” (v.64).

Put Jesus to death! Nothing less than death would do for his monstrous crime. The soul that sinneth shall surely die! So the Word made flesh, the incarnate Son of God, is found worthy of death by the supreme religious court in the world, and this verdict was according to law. It is not that a group of assassins decided that he was worthy of death and that they would murder him. There had been the due processes of justice in a court of law. They would soon take him to Pilate and this is what they would say to the Roman governor, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God.” The law to which they were appealing was written by Moses. It said this, “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death” (Lev. 24:16). So Jesus is placed under the condemnation of the law of God. He has been tried by this high court presided over by the chief priest and judged worthy of death. What heart rending for Jesus! God is tearing his heart out. His chief priest, and his Sanhedrin, in his nation all find him worthy of death. God is condemning him to the death of the cross.

Do you see this great sight? Do you realise what we have here? Here is one who has done nothing worthy of death, who in fact is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate of sinners; here is one like a lamb without spot or blemish; here is one of whom God says, “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased;” here is God incarnate, the Lord of glory, but he is being held fast as a criminal, and now a convict, condemned as worthy of death by the law of God. In other words he has been stricken and smitten by God; the Lamb of God has been judged by heaven itself. Go back to first causes. You always must. Where is Caiaphas’ heart and mind? It is in God’s hands. If God desired that the Sanhedrin find his Son ‘Not Guilty’ don’t you think he could change the thinking of all the members of this court so that they would come to that unanimous verdict, “Not Guilty. You may go free”? Doesn’t God have access to the minds of everyone? The king’s heart is in the Lord’s hands and he moves it the way he pleases. But God did no such thing. He permitted them to condemn his sinless Son to death.

How could God do that? Is he not the great Judge of all the earth? Doesn’t he always do right? How can he lay such condemnation on his dear Son who is fairer than the sons of men and worthy of the infinite fulness of God’s love? How can God be so unjust and cruel, punishing his innocent Son for a crime he did not commit? How dare he do that if he is kind and righteous? Isn’t this one of the greatest anomalies man can face? How can God remain just while he is condemning Jesus to death on the cross? If he is just he will deliver Jesus. If he is just he will condemn Caiaphas and this whole unrighteous Sanhedrin. But Caiaphas goes home to his bed and Jesus goes off to Golgotha. Does the just God of heaven know what he is doing? See Jehovah, here is your Son! Look at him being condemned by sinners, and do you see what happens next? They are spitting at him; they are blindfolding him, and punching him, and shouting into his ears, Prophesy! Prophesy! And soon they will be whipping him until the blood flows and then they will drive nails through his hands and feet and lift him up suspended on them until he dies. God in heaven, don’t you see what they are doing to your own beloved boy? Aren’t you loving and just and powerful? Or have we got it wrong? Are you really a helpless old grandfather wringing your hands in horror and weeping helplessly?

Do you know the answer to this dilemma? Have you availed yourself of the answer to this huge problem? Jesus was not being condemned for his own sin, for he had none. So if God delights in his Son and would never punish him for what he’s not done Jesus is taking someone else’s condemnation. He is bearing their judgment in his own body. Without their asking for it, and suggesting it, or even thinking about it at all, God had devised the way in which he might justify sinful men and women. There is in the nature of God himself a holy condemnation of sin. That is how the only God there is has to be. He requires the shedding of blood if there is to be remission of sin. That is what is required by the only God there is. There could be no hope at all for us were it not for God condemning Jesus Christ. He bore in his condemnation our wickedness. He died as the Passover lambs died – as substitute, the just for the unjust, the living head freely taking responsibility for all the multitudes God had given him.

What must you do? You must vindicate the justice of God when he condemned holy Jesus. How do I do that? You must say, “He did right to bruise his own Son. He did right to nail his beloved one to the tree. That was the right and just and loving thing to do, because Jesus was being judged in my room for my sins.” You must say, “In my place condemned he stood. That is why he is suffering there. My only hope of forgiveness is that God should condemn my sin for what Christ has done.” God is faithful and just in condemning Christ because of all the sin for which Jesus has taken responsibility. He really is bearing my guilt there. He has been made sin for me on Calvary. That understanding vindicates God’s treatment of his Son. Otherwise you are left saying, “What a terrible world this is, and terrible things happen to innocent people, and God is a spectator and can do nothing about it.” If you are not confessing that he bears your guilt then you are concealing the justice of God from all who live in your little world, and you are compromising the justice of God before your little world, and you are eclipsing the justice of God from your little world, and you are extinguishing the justice of God in your little world. If you are not pleading the cross of Christ then you are pleading something else. You are pleading your good name, and your decent life, and I want to tell you that that is the road to hell, because it is the road all proud, unbelieving, independent, self-sufficient sinners have taken and every one of them ends up in destruction.

Do you know some secret way to God that none of the rest of us know? Share it with us. Do you have some other advocate or saviour or mediator of whom we are ignorant? Do you have some separate route to approach the Holy One? Do you have a map of the journey to God of which we know nothing? On what footing are you going to deal with God? Are you going to glance at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and then turn your back on it and plead something else? Be it far from you! God condemned his beloved Son, his perfect Son Jesus and while you reject Christ you are refusing to vindicate God’s action. You say that there was another way of forgiveness. It is your own little way. What is it? You might dream of something like this, that you go to God and you say to him “Forgive me” and God goes ahead and does it, just like that, without the bloody sweat of Gethsemane, without Christ drinking the cup, without the whipping, without the nails and the spear thrust and the anathema and the tomb. There was always another way, you think. We simply say hello to God and he shakes hands with us and into heaven we all pop. It is all so straightforward. So you will not vindicate the cross of Christ. You don’t plead the blood of Jesus to cover your sins. You don’t plead Christ’s righteousness. You offer your life to God, and do you really think that the God who is light accepts you and your rotten stinking life – just like that? Then why did God torture Christ so unnecessarily? Why the shambles of Calvary? Why the horror of it all, so unjust; such a blot on the reputation of God as a God of justice and love. Why did he treat the loveliest and the best in such a way if it wasn’t necessary? Why did he condemn the innocent to death, even the death of the cross.

I am telling you that the cross of Christ was essential. The very nature of God requires atonement if sinners are to be forgiven. That is how God is. The very guilt and shame of our sins requires redemption. The Lamb of God must go up to Jerusalem and be put on trial and die. He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth. So the Sanhedrin must find him guilty and condemn him. This was God’s plan, and whatever God decrees in eternity men will choose in time, and so the Sanhedrin must say, “He is worthy of death,” that salvation can come to us. I urge you to rescue God’s justice by making your entire plea not your own wretched life but Jesus’ life and death alone. Lay your sins on the Lamb of God! Flee from the wrath to come by hiding in the wounded side of Christ. It is in one name, and one man, and one life, and one death alone that salvation is to be found. He takes full responsibility for everyone who pleads that great name. Be joined to Jesus Christ! Take your stand in him. Find your acceptance in him. Identify your cause with his. Say, “Surely he has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows. Surely he was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities. Surely the chastisement of my peace was upon him, and with his stripes I have been healed. Surely the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of all my sin.”

It is a wonderful duty to come as a lost sinner and cast yourself with all your heart and soul, freely and frankly, on Jesus only. Don’t you know that that is what God is asking from you today? That’s the first thing men must do. Don’t you know that he is inviting you now to come to Jesus Christ the Saviour? Do you know that he is beseeching you to come without delay? You have lived your entire life trusting in yourself. Yet God has been so patient with you. He has arranged for you to be here today to be told again about his Son, especially why it was necessary for him to die the cruel death of the cross. He is chasing you from whatever refuge you have built for yourself to hide in Jesus Christ.

4. EVEN IF WHAT CHRIST SAYS WERE DECEITFUL TO TREAT HIM SO SAVAGELY IS INIQUITOUS.

We then read, “Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.” (v.65). To send God’s holy child Jesus to his death was a formidable event. To stand in the place of God and pass such a judgment on Christ is sobering. They held in their hands the keys of God, and they could open the gates of death and put a man inside for ever. How solemn! They’ve done just that. They have just sent a young man to his death – and what a death! They were even then in the process of sending messengers to executioners saying, “Prepare another cross for the morning. Three are now going to be crucified.” They were putting Jesus in Satan’s hands, with a total conviction that God was acting through them and that God had condemned him to death. They were merely God’s servants. It was the most solemn moment in all of Israel’s long and sad history. They had killed the prophets God had sent, and now they would kill his Son.

So you would expect some sobriety to fall across this court, that people would walk quietly away from the condemned man and go back to their homes. That is not what you see. An orgy of cruelty takes place; a gruesome drama of mockery and defiance. Jesus becomes their plaything, and all the enmity that lies in the heart of men – and your heart too – comes flooding out. “Let’s gather round and have fun at the expense of the Nazarene blasphemer.” See the old gentlemen get up – the patriarchs and patricians of Israel who just an hour earlier were enjoying a Passover feast with their families. These 71 old boys from all the noblest families in the land come right up to Jesus and spit in his face. You notice from our text that the soldiers guarding him have to wait their turn to take him and beat him. First of all the lawyers in Israel’s supreme court show their contempt. They come up to him accompanied by their slaves and house boys; they put a crude blindfold over his face and then they hit him – this is not a slap but a punch; it is “with their fists” (v.65). They get to enjoy hitting Jesus so they hit him again. They try to give him a black eye, or break his nose, or his cheek bone, or sink their fists into his stomach. And then they shout at him, “Prophesy! Prophesy! Who’s hitting you now?” Bang! Bang! Another punch! And their servants are laughing and joining in the fun. They dance around him. “He can’t tell who’s hitting him! But prophets are supposed to see what we mere mortals can’t see.” They convert his prophetic office into a joke. They mock the one who brought the sermon on the mount to mankind. These dwarfs kick against the throne of God. They put on their expensive seven-league boots and launch their offensive against the Lord and against his anointed. But the throne doesn’t move an inch. They are kicking against the goads as they shout “Prophesy!”

But I tell you this, that in the next hour a cockerel is going to crow. The timing of its cock-a-doodle-doo was actually predicted by Christ, that Peter would deny Jesus three times and exactly then, at that minute of the last betrayal, the cock would crow a second time, on cue. God can open a rooster’s beak and make it crow at just the right time. What is easier, I ask you, for Jesus to say, “Ah, that is Benjamin Zadok who just hit me,” or to prophesy that a cock will crow after Peter’s second denial. You see the last two verses of our chapter: [Peter] “began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’ Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept” (vv. 71&72). Jesus is indeed God’s great prophet who knows Peter’s future and your future, right up to the moment of your death. Don’t you want this prophet as your friend today?

“Prophesy, O Christ: who is it that just struck thee?” I will tell you this. Jesus knows very well who it is that strikes him. Every time their fists bruise his face or sink into his stomach he answers, “It is God! It is God! He is smiting me. It has pleased the Lord to bruise me. He has put me to grief.” That refrain has been the balm of suffering persecuted Christians for 2,000 years, in the flames, or on the rack, or on the gallows, being hung and drawn and quartered, or watching their loved ones suffering they have known, “It is the Lord.” He is there with them comforting and strengthening them. It is not that he has abandoned them.

They have put a blindfold on Jesus and God says, “Can you see me?” “Yes Father, you’re in heaven, and I can set my mind on you behind this bandage over my eyes. I’m glad it’s there that I can’t see their red eyes and hating faces. I lift up my eyes unto Thee my Father.” But there will come a time on his journey into the dereliction when the sight of God will grow fainter and fainter until he can see him no longer, and feel him no longer, when he loses every sense of contact with him. “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” But not yet; this is only the beginning of the anathema.

What is Jesus doing there? I will tell you; it is a staggering answer. He is loving his persecuting neighbours as his persecuted self. He is praying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He is fulfilling all righteousness, and he is doing that for me, because I don’t live like that. I should live like that. I should overcome evil with good. When they smite me on the right cheek I should turn to them the left also. I shouldn’t overcome evil with evil but evil with good. I should do good to them that despitefully abuse me, but it’s hard. It is hard for the abused Christian. It was hard for Christ, but he did it. A man has breathed the air on this earth who has loved his enemy, and loved his enemy as himself. One man has done it; but one only. This is what happened when the Son of God walked on earth amongst men.

You have in our text such a straight and humble Saviour. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want him to be your own Saviour. Look at this mighty Colossus who made the stars and the Milky Way allowing pip-squeak sinners to abuse him like this and loving them still – why don’t you all long to be hidden in this Saviour’s righteousness and have him as your own? Why anyone should want to turn away from him as he is revealed here I can’t understand except for this fact that the enmity that was in the hearts of these men who beat him and played with him is also in your heart today. That sin is in your soul. The same enmity towards the Lord; the same sin is here in this distinguished congregation today. It is in our midst. It is in our hearts; in my heart. That’s the problem. We are not like Christ. We are sinners, every one of us. Have you been saved from your guilt and shame? You can be, but it is only by Christ. Have you been convicted of that? That you are a sinner? Have you seen that only in the atonement of Christ there is redemption? Have you seen that only in his righteousness can full forgiveness be yours?

We know what the alternative is. He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn. The Lord shall hold them in derision. Yes it is the grand mockery of God. You made fun of me, and you spat in my face, and you hit me, and you whipped me, and you crucified me, and you killed me, but on the third day I rose again. I’m coming on the clouds of heaven to judge the quick and the dead.

Be reconciled to God today! For he make Christ a target of abuse, and a source of mockery and scorn, beaten and crucified and made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. I beseech you therefore take Christ! When you take him you will be reconciled to God because he has become for all who are in Christ “wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord'” (I Cor. 1:30&31).

7th August 2005 GEOFF THOMAS