My Song is Love Unknown: What Makes This Rage and Spite?
My Song is Love Unknown: What Makes This Rage and Spite
Text: Luke 23:6-12
What an intense half-day it had been so far! There was the intimate last supper with the disciples where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and instituted the new meal for the forgiveness of their sins. Judas was also called out and ran out of the room. Then there was the intense prayer session in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by the treacherous betrayal and arrest. Then late that night and early that Friday morning there was the illegal trial held before Caiphas and the Sanhedrin. Jesus was charged with blasphemy, sentenced to die, and then mocked and beaten. What rage and spite!
One problem though—the Jews didn’t have the authority to execute. They needed the Romans to do that. Specifically, they needed the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.
They were in luck. Pontius Pilate was in town. Normally the governor would live in northwest Judea on the sea coast in the city of Caesarea. But this was the week of Passover, a likely week for passionate Jews to rebel against the Romans. So Pilate was staying in Jerusalem at the time.
After the death sentence from the Sanhedrin, Jesus was rushed over to Pilate. It was now the early hours Good Friday morning, shortly after sunrise. As Jesus stood before Pilate the Jews hurled wild accusations against him filled with more rage and spite: “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.” There were three charges here—that Jesus was disrupting Judea, that he opposed the payment of taxes, and that he claimed to be a king. But Pilate found no basis for the charges. Jesus seemed innocent to Pilate. Yet the Jews insisted that Jesus had been stirring up the people starting in Galilee and moving all over the country. That’s where we pick up this evening:
“On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.”
This was Herod the son of Herod the Great who tried to kill Jesus when he was born. This Herod had wanted to see Jesus for quite some time. He had heard about all kinds of miracles and wonders and signs that had been performed by Jesus in Herod’s region called Galilee. Perhaps now Jesus would perform one for him.
He didn’t. He stood there in silence. He didn’t perform any miracles. He didn’t respond to Herod’s questions. He didn’t respond to the accusations from the teachers of the law.
Then Herod and his soldiers mercilessly mocked and ruthlessly ridiculed Jesus. They dressed him in an elegant robe either to make him look like a clown or to make fun of him for claiming to be a king. Finally, Herod couldn’t really do anything to him so he sent him back to Pilate. Through this collaborative collusion the one time enemies now became friends.
Why? What Makes This Rage and Spite? Why such hatred? Why such vehement accusations? Why so much mocking and taunting? Why pursue the death penalty so ceaselessly? Why? Because they didn’t get what they wanted out of Jesus.
The Jews wanted Jesus to be a different kind of Messiah. They wanted an earthly king. They wanted Jesus to keep healing and helping them. They wanted Jesus to defeat all their enemies. They wanted to be rich and powerful like in the days of David and Solomon. Maybe Jesus could keep teaching them. But they would have rather had Jesus pay off the mortgage on their homes than have Jesus pay for their sins. So they hated him and tried to kill him.
Pilate didn’t get what he wanted from Jesus either. He wanted answers. He wanted truth. He wanted a vigorous defense argument from Jesus. Something. Anything to make his job a little easier. Pilate even thought Jesus was innocent, but he didn’t have the courage to set Jesus free. So Pilate tried to hand him off and take the easy way out.
Herod also did not get what he wanted from Jesus. Herod wanted miracles, signs, and wonders. Herod wanted answers to many questions. Where did Jesus come from? How could he claim to be the king of the Jews? Why was he doing all these things? But Herod didn’t get any miracles and he didn’t get any answers. So he hated Jesus, mocked Jesus, and sent him back to his execution.
What Makes This Rage and Spite? Hearts dissatisfied with Jesus and wanting more from Jesus.
Are you getting what you want out of Jesus? Christians quickly respond, “Why, yes. Of course I am.” After all, that’s what we are supposed to say, right?
But wouldn’t it be nice to get a few more things from Jesus? Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little more money from Jesus? It doesn’t have to be a lot. But maybe enough to really be comfortable and enjoy life. Wouldn’t it be nice if he could take away some of the pressure and stress of our lives? Wouldn’t it be nice if he could make a few of our problems go away?
Wait, a second. Why don’t you do those things, Jesus? Why do you allow so many problems? Why do you let me suffer? Why don’t you make things better for me? Why don’t you show me a little bit of that mighty power? Why, Jesus?
What Makes This Rage and Spite? Very quickly we realize how sinful people become dissatisfied with Jesus. And when we want more from Jesus, we become angry with Jesus like the Jews, or distant from Jesus like Pilate, or disinterested in Jesus like Herod.
My Song Is Love Unknown. This whole Scripture reading is about Jesus. All their hatred was about Jesus. All we have been talking about is Jesus. Yet isn’t it interesting that we haven’t heard Jesus speak one time this whole evening?
All these people were so filled with rage and spite—the Jews, Pilate, Herod, even we are—all because Jesus wasn’t what they wanted. Yet Jesus’ love was so great and so unknown that he was there to give them not what they wanted, but what they needed.
The Jews wanted more healings and more riches and a big kingdom. But Jesus was offering what they needed—healing from the sin, the riches of heaven, and an eternal kingdom. Herod wanted signs and miracles and answers. But Jesus was offering what he needed—the miracle of defeating Satan and then rising from the dead and the answer to the question of how we get to heaven. Pilate wanted truth. But Jesus was offering what he really needed—the spiritual truth that his kingdom is from a different world and that his work was far more important than Pilate could understand.
Silently Jesus stood before his accusers, his haters, his mockers because willingly Jesus was going to suffer and die for them. They didn’t deserve his unknown love. They didn’t even want his unknown love. Yet Jesus was giving them unknown love, forgiving them for all their rage and spite.
This is once more the unknown love of our Savior Jesus. We cannot understand how he could be so loving to those who hated him so much. Nor can we understand how he could be so loving to us today. We do not deserve Jesus’s unknown love. Sometimes we don’t even want Jesus’ unknown love. Yet Jesus has given us unknown love, forgiving us for all of our sins.
Am I getting what I want out of Jesus? Absolutely! Of course I am! I am getting forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. All this because he loved when others hated.
Why? What has my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run; He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease and ‘gainst him rise.
Here might I stay and sing; No story so divine,
Never was love, dear King, Never was grief like thine.
This is my friend, In whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend!
My Song is Love Unknown.
Posted on March 15, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Caiphas, Church, Herod, Jesus, Lent, Love, Luke, Luke 23, My Song is Love Unknown, Pontius Pilate, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.