And they began to salute Him: "Hail, King of the Jews!"
I. WHAT IT WAS IN HIM THAT WAS MOCKED. The crown and the purple and the sham homage are interpreted by the cry, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
1. It was his kingly pretensions they ridiculed. So the Jews had laughed to scorn his prophetic office. To those Roman soldiers, impressed with the grandeur of the power they themselves represented, the claim to be king of a small and subject land like Palestine was very petty. They could afford, so they thought, to laugh at it; even as Pilate was not afraid to have released him who preferred it.
2. But even more did they despise his title as a theocratic King. How far these citizens of the empire of law were from realizing the true character of the kingdom of righteousness! Had he even been recognized by the Jews themselves as their ruler, the nation was too small, too insignificant in a political or military point of view, to be of any consequence. There was no suspicion in their minds of danger to the Roman empire, or of the influence which his moral and spiritual character was to wield in the new ages of the world. It is, although they knew it not then, by virtue of this same moral majesty and power that he, in turn, has become the Conqueror of mankind, and is maintaining and extending his sway in regions where mouldering ruins and obsolete statutes are all that remain to witness to Rome's vanished greatness. It is the mockers themselves that are now ridiculous.
II. HOW MEN MAY MOCK HIM STILL. There is a feeling of human tenderness that is outraged as we imagine the meek Sufferer amidst the brutal throng. But the true sentiment that ought to be awakened is that which concerns the principles of righteousness and truth, of which he was the embodiment and representative. It is for them he would have us solicitous even to jealousy. Men still wound and mock Christ:
1. When they reader to him a merely nominal homage. "When we pervert the truth of the Word for our own evil ends, we scourge the Son of man; when to justify our evils we fabricate a system of ingenious error, and thus exalt our own wisdom above the wisdom of Jesus, we plait a crown of thorns and put it on his head; when we substitute our own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ, we clothe him with a purple robe; when we are inwardly worshippers of self and outwardly worshippers of the Lord, our worship of him is a mocking salutation of 'Hail, King of the Jews!' while every presumptuous sin we commit is a stroke inflicted on the Son of man" (W. Bruce).
2. When they ignore the moral nature of his power, relying on material and external means instead of spiritual. When they use the methods of business in a business spirit, or even the arts of diplomacy, to advance his kingdom. So men clothe Christ in the insignia of Herod. "The kingliest King was crowned with thorns!
3. When they would accept the advantages of his kingdom without observing its conditions. As when persons profess to enjoy the preaching and ordinances of the gospel, but do not carry its doctrines into practice; or when they are "straightway offended" at the tribulations and privations which true discipleship involves. - M.
Crucify Him.Vox populi, vox Dei, against his sister, a lady whose talents were not unworthy the family to which she belonged. At last the preacher, to put an end to the controversy, put his argument in the shape of a dictum, and said, "I tell you, sister, the voice of the people is the voice of God." "Yes," she replied, mildly, "it cried, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him.'" A more admirable answer was, perhaps, never given.
Dictionary of Anecdote.When Napoleon was returning from his successful wars in Austria and Italy, amid the huzzas of the people, Bourrienne remarked to him that "it must be delightful to be greeted with such demonstrations of enthusiastic admiration." "Bah!" replied Napoleon, "this same unthinking crowd, under a slight change of circumstances, would follow me just as eagerly to the scaffold."
(Dictionary of Anecdote.)I. Here we have THE BASIS OF A TREMENDOUS INDICTMENT against human nature.
1. Human nature does not know good. It if had, it would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
2. Human nature hated goodness in its most attractive form.
3. Humanity is guilty of the utmost possible folly, because in crucifying Jesus it crucified its best friend.
4. Human nature destroyed its best instructor.
5. Human nature submitted to the insolent tyranny of the priests.
6. Human nature was guilty of craven cowardice in striking One who would not defend Himself.
II. Let me shut the door against some SELF-RIGHTEOUS DISCLAIMERS.
1. "I should not have done so." Of whom wast thou born, but of a woman, as they were?
2. "I would have spoken for Him." Yes; and dost thou speak for Him now? What have you done already? Have you sneered at the gospel? Have you rejected it? Are you ignorant of it? Have you ever doubted His power and His willingness to save? For believers — oh what a sorrow to think we stabbed our Friend to the heart. If we have crucified Him — let us resolve to crown Him.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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