The Cross He Carried

Matthew 27:27-31

Introduction:  Before we get right to Jesus’ humiliation on the cross and in his being mocked, we should consider where he came from

  • He’s the King of Heaven—which de facto makes him the king of everything
    • Praise him for his grace and favor, his ransoming grace, restoring grace, even the sun and moon bow down before him
    • So we rightly sing, “to his feet your tribute bring”  but compare that with what we read in this passage
    • Instead of their tribute, Pilate’s soldiers honored the King of Kings with mockery, spittle, and abuse

God incarnate allowed himself to be abused for the sake of his people-as Gabriel told Joseph in chapter 1, “you shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins”.

Matthew 27:27-31 is a clear step by step process of humiliation.   

  • Stripped naked
  • Then he’s Given a “royal” robe
  • A crown for the king and a scepter to indicate his rule
  • They bowed down to pay homage to the make believe king
  • Giving praise—“hail, King of the Jews”—mocking both this pretender to the throne, and the people over whom he supposedly rules

Matthew slows the narrative down, zooms in like a movie director and makes us see what our savior endured even before he endured God’s wrath for our sins. This is all part of  Jesus’ cross, submitting to the Father’s will and doing it for the sake of someone else’s good.  It’s what he told us to do in Luke 9:23, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Our three points:  1.  The better Son of David (from our OT reading II Sam. 24); 2.  The Savior’s Humility (from the Affirmation of Faith Php. 2:5-11);  3.  Following Jesus’ lead

  1. The Better Son of David—in Luke 24 Jesus showed his disciples how everything in the OT related to him, sometimes we see an inverse relationship, like in 2 Samuel 24 between King David and David’s better son, the King of Kings
    1. Joab was David’s general
      1. He fought against Saul when they were hiding for their lives
      1. He helped bring down Absalom’s rebellion
    1. Joab was a great military leader, at the same time, he wasn’t really known for his wisdom or righteousness
      1. But in this instance Joab really showed some wisdom.  In the parallel passage in 1 Chron. 21:3, Joab said, “May the LORD add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?”
      1. Why would it be wrong for David to number the army? Why does that bring guilt on Israel?  Because once he numbered the army Israel would be tempted to trust in their own strength.
      1. Psalm 20:7 “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
      1. Numbering the army is the opposite of trusting in God.
    1. And then in response to being corrected by the prophet Gad, David chooses his punishment poorly
      1. He’s given three choices:  1.  three years of famine come to you in your land?   2.) Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? 3.)  Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land?
      1. David dresses it up with holy language, but it’s not holy at all:  “let us fall into the hand of the LORD for his mercy is great.”  Yes, God is merciful, much more than we ever are—but David should have taken the option that only punishes him, not the people.
        1. Take the three months fleeing in the wilderness, David.
      1. Three days pestilence doesn’t sound so bad, but it can be truly terrifying when it comes from God:
        1. 70000 people died.
    1. Jesus is better than David in two ways in 2 Sam 24
      1. Jesus obeyed, David didn’t
      1. Jesus accepted all the punishment that was due for his people, whereas David allowed the nation to suffer for his sins
    1. All of Jesus’ work, including what he suffered before the cross, was a part of him saving believers. 
      1. Not because it atoned for our sin—that’s the cross.
      1. Because it was the will of God and Jesus was sent to obey the father. 
        1. John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
        1. John 6:38  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
        1. John 14:31  I do as the father commanded me.
      1. Jesus’ active obedience secured his people’s salvation just as much as his death.
  2. The Savior’s Humility—Php 2:5-11
    1. I picked the Philippian creed for this month’s affirmation on purpose: 
      1. As we come to the crucifixion we should see Jesus’ humility and humiliation front and center
      1. He shows his humility by submitting himself to sinful judges, sinful soldiers, all for the sake of his sinners
      1. In return Jesus is humiliated by those sinners
    1. Jesus is eternal, he existed before he was even born 
      1. He was in the form of God—here the form of God refers to the majesty of God.  Of all three persons of God—the Trinity.  It means that Jesus is made of the same stuff as the Father and the Spirit.
        1. Calvin, “Christ, then, before the creation of the world, was in the form of God, because from the beginning he had his glory with the Father”[1]
      1. He shared everything with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 
      1. For instance, in the work of Creation the Father willed it to happen, the Son, the Word was the means by which it came to be, and the Holy Spirit was the breath of life that gave creation life
      1. That’s who Jesus is—before he was conceived in Mary’s womb, after he was conceived, when he was born into abject poverty and laid into a feeding trough, and when he was mocked mercilessly by the soldiers because he was obeying his father, Jesus was the Word that created the world and sustains the creation and everything in it.
    1. Yet he willingly humbled himself for his people:  “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant”
      1. Though he was absolutely equal with God, in every way, Jesus laid it aside.
      1. He made himself nothing—he didn’t empty his divinity, he couldn’t. 
        1. You want to know something God can’t do?  He can’t not be God.  God has to be God.  And Jesus is God, so He always has to be God, always. 
        1. He emptied himself in the sense of having a humble demeanor in our world, he emptied himself of all the rights of being God.
        1. He became nothing in the sight of mankind.
    1. Philippians 2 is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  3. Following Jesus’ lead
    1. Php 2—Paul tells us to have the mind of Christ, the mind of humility     
      1. 2:3-4  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
        1. Put others above you.  Make their needs your needs and seek to resolve the need.
      1. In ch. 4 Paul addresses an interpersonal conflict “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.”
        1. Agree in the Lord, ladies.  He doesn’t address the issue, so it doesn’t strike at the heart of the gospel, it’s probably not even doctrinal at all.  They just aren’t getting along.
          1. Someone’s feelings got hurt or someone didn’t feel as important she felt she was.
        1. Have some humility and agree in the Lord.  That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends and go to the movies and share a popcorn—it means you need to be able to get along.  Without strife, without questioning motives, and in true love.
      1. Back in chapter 2 it was clear how they should do this—put the other person’s needs ahead of yours.  Make their well-being your priority.
    1. Paul’s point: imitate Jesus even if it means humiliation.   “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”
      1. If you think to yourself “I do this already, I don’t mind being humiliated for the sake of obedience” you probably need to find a new definition of humiliation; or a new way to be humiliated. 
        1. Jesus was mocked, brutalized, spit on, and bowed down before as a way to taunt him.  None of us are okay with that.
      1. J. Vernon McGee—“none of us like to be insulted, or offended, or put out in any way”—real humility sees those things as just light afflictions to endure
        1. We should develop thicker skin by relying on Jesus’ skin that suffered for us.
        1. Remember what he endured—do we really think we should have a better life than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
      1. Remember that Jesus came to serve and not to be served.  And he calls us to do the same.
        1. We’ve all had moments when we were asked to do something that we’re overqualified for.  You’ve worked hard to get where you are and there’s other people that actually are supposed to do it.
        1. I was at a medical office and I asked one of the technicians if she could schedule my next visit.  Immediately let me know that the receptionist could help me with it.  No worries, I understood, you’re a trained technician, you don’t do the scheduling.
        1. But then a week or so ago I’m back there and I see the doctor, the guy who had built this practice from the ground up.  It’s thriving and growing, he started with so little, but now the office has rehab facilities, extra technicians, even another doctor, and plenty of support staff—He had done all this, his hard work had done all this. 
        1. And here he was on his hands and knees nailing down a little metal threshold that had started to come up. 
        1. It dawned on me at that moment that his willingness to do whatever it took was so much more impressive than anything else he could have done.

As we seek to have the mind of Jesus, remember just how impressive your savior is because he became humbled before he was glorified, and imitate that.  Tell our God in heaven, take my will and make it thine, commit yourself to obeying your Heavenly Father by the strength of your Savior’s humility. Amen.


[1] John Calvin and John Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 55.