Sermons

The Coronation of Our King: Mark 15

As you read this, check out Mark 15:1-47. Mark’s passion narrative is written to include events that remind you of a King’s coronation. But to see it…you must first believe.

If you must see first to believe, what you believe is what you see. You’ll believe that you see a failed Savior. A fool. A liar. A false king. Because if you must first see to believe, you’ll wish that you had seen a King who came down from the cross and conquered his enemies. But, if you must see first to believe, all you’ll see is the highly respected Joseph of Arimathea throw away his reputation by taking the body of Jesus into his care. All you will see come down from the cross is not a conquering king, but the conquered corpse of the man who claimed he could create life.

If you must first see to believe, what you believe is what you see. Because if you must first see to believe, you’ll wish that you had seen not darkness over the whole land, but light. You’ll wish that you had seen Elijah come to the rescue of the King of the Jews. You’ll wish that you had seen the crucified Christ utter a loud cry as he tore himself from the cross to vanquish his enemy sinners once and for all. But, if you must see first to believe, all you’ll see is a pathetic, miserable man asking his god why he has forsaken him. All you will see are three women: three gullible second-class citizens who had foolishly followed this failed Messiah.

If you must first see to believe, what you believe is what you see. Because if you must first see to believe, you’ll wish that you had seen the inscription “THE KING OF THE JEWS” not above a crown of thorns on a cross, but above a crown of gold on an elaborate throne. You’ll wish that you would have seen the elite princes and prime ministers flanking this King of the Jews on his left and on his right, ruling and reigning in all their glory. You’ll wish you had seen not vile soldiers casting lots for bloody robes, but royal subjects basking in the riches granted to them by a King who decorated himself in the finest of linens. But instead, all you will see are bystanders astutely recalling that this same King of the Jews had claimed he could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, but can’t even save himself from a cross. Instead all you will see are the educated religious leaders rightfully mock a blasphemer. Instead all you will see is common sense condemning a phony: if this man is the King of the Jews, he should come down from the cross so that we can see and believe!

If you must first see to believe, what you believe is what you see. Because if you must first see to believe, you’ll wish that you had seen the crowds not voting unanimously for this man’s crucifixion, but for his eternal coronation. Instead of “Crucify him!” they would shout “Crown him Lord of all!” You will wish you had seen every knee bow not to a king who would go to the cross, but to a king who gives his people all that they desire. You want a king who removes suffering, conquers tyranny, and lets your comfort reign supreme. You want a king who champions not his agenda but your agenda. Instead all you will see is a man who claimed to be king, but now stands in shameful silence. Instead, all you will see is the is the wisdom of the majority; the majority condemning a con man. Instead, all you will see is a crowd demanding the freedom of a murderer named Barabbas, because nothing is worse than a man who swindles you out of your own opinions. If you must first see to believe, what you will see is the rightful sentence of a fanatic leader who does not your will, but the will of his god.

If you must first see to believe, what you believe is what you see. Because if you must first see to believe, you’ll wish that you had seen Jesus stand up for himself to the elders and the scribes and the chief priests and the council and Pontius Pilate. If you must first see to believe, you’ll wish that you had seen Jesus, in righteous indignation tell these leaders how it is, to stand up for religious freedom, stand up against tyranny, stand up for his rights, and show them who the true King is. You’ll wish you would have seen Jesus tell them all how wrong they all were. You’ll wish Jesus had leveraged his infinite wisdom and glory as God against them and with one final, masterful concoction of words convince them all and every person after them to repent and pledge allegiance to Jesus as King. But instead, all you will see is this captive Christ whose silence is ear piercing and heart breaking. Instead, all you will see is this Jesus who inexplicably lets false allegations go unanswered. Instead, all you will see is Pilate ask “Are you the King of the Jews?” and the man in chains respond with a vague and unconvincing “You have said so.”

If you must see first to believe, what you believe is what you see. You’ll believe that you see a failed Savior. A fool. A liar. A false king. Pilate fails to see the genius of his question. How you see Jesus depends on how you answer who he is. Without faith, you only see the miserable plight of a failed savior. With faith, you see the tragic glory of the King of the Jews ruling for his people.

Because if you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see not the chief priests’ accusation of a captive Christ, but the nomination of our true King. You will see that the man brought before Pilate is the chosen King to take responsibility for people. If you believe first in order to see, Pilate’s question becomes the designation of the King of the Jews. If you believe first in order to see, the silence of Jesus is his resounding acceptance of his kingship. If you believe first in order to see, you see the ascension of King Jesus to his throne.

If you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see not a foolish crowd condemning an innocent man, but the masses hailing their newfound King. You will see how ironically appropriate their demand is. If you believe first in order to see, the crowd’s “Crucify him!” becomes an unknowingly faithful request. You will see that his crucifixion becomes the ultimate first act of this King for his people. If you believe first in order to see, you see the ascension of King Jesus to his throne.

If you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see not wretched soldiers berating and beating a broken man, but a battalion who led our king into a palace to prepare him for his throne. You see the King’s men equipping him for battle. You see the regiment arraying their commander in chief in royal purple. You see sinners unknowingly, but rightfully crown and salute the one they hail as King of the Jews. If you believe first in order to see, you see the ascension of King Jesus to his throne.

If you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see not a horrific Golgotha, a hilly place of a skull, but a holy place of salvation, a glorious victory. You see the almighty King, enthroned in the very place his greatest Kingly act is carried out. You see a King reigning for his people not with a crown of jewels but a crown of thorns, not with a decorated throne but a splintered cross, not with royal rings upon his fingers but rusty nails in his hands. You see that request of two disciples to sit at the right and left of King Jesus in his glory instead has been granted to two bandits—one on his right and one on his left. You see that this is Jesus in all his glory, broken and bloodied. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see the foolishness of the mocking gawkers, who want to see first to believe, and yet fail to see the ironically accurate inscription above the head of the King of the Jews. If you believe first in order to see, you see the ascension of King Jesus to his throne.

If you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see that the cry of the man from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is his condemnation and your salvation. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see your King’s sacrificial suicide mission. You see that your King’s mission all along was to rule not by condemnation, but by being condemned. If you are like the centurion, you believe first and then you see that “truly this man was the Son of God!” If you are like the three women, three heroes of the faith watching from a distance, you believe first in order to see the ascension of King Jesus to his throne.

If you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see not a foolish leader named Joseph of Arimathea renouncing his religion, but instead a faithful leader seeing the kingdom of God fulfilled in this dead Jesus. You see a sinner repenting of the kind of King he wanted and recognizing the kind of King he needed. You see three forlorn followers, women who faithfully see that the true glory of Jesus is that he is the King who goes to the cross. Because if you believe first in order to see, you see Jesus’ death as his highest kingly act. If you believe first in order to see, you see the ascension of King Jesus to his throne. If you believe before you see, you see not the crucifixion of a criminal, but the coronation of our King.

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