April 2, 2009 - Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 4:19-31; St. Mark 15:16-32

And they put on Him a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on Him and they began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” (St. Mark 15:18-19)

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. It’s April Fool’s Day! But there is no fooling around today with the daily lectionary. Today’s reading fast-forwards us straight to Good Friday and the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. They mocked Him. They made a joke of Him. They all laughed at Him. Not just a few soldiers, but the whole battalion.

This was their April Fool’s joke, this was the humor of their day. Let’s put a purple robe on Him and dress Him up like a king! Then they wove together a crown of thorns, and smashed it down on his head. “Hail, King of the Jews,” they mock-saluted Him.

Jesus was most likely already bleeding from the thorns when they began beating him on the head with a giant stalk. Ever been whipped with a switch? It hurts! Can you imagine being hit in the head with one?

Then the soldiers actually spit on God’s Son. How shameful! We shudder at the thought, yet today we hear how we spit on God’s Son.

Yes, we did that, right with the soldiers. You did, too. You are no better than those Roman soldiers who beat and crucified the Lord of Glory. Don’t think for one moment that you would do anything differently. Don’t kid yourself that you would’ve protected Jesus. You wouldn’t have. Not even His disciples did that. Fast from your self-righteousness and arrogance today. Be horrified by what the soldiers did to Jesus, and be ashamed that you would have done the very same thing.

Then they stripped Him. Stripped God of His clothes. Why waste perfectly good clothes on a nobody like Jesus? They rolled dice, gambling for His clothes, leaving the Lord of Heaven and earth practically naked.

Yet, Jesus continues to the Cross anyway. This is why He came, after all. He came to save you from your sins. He came to have nails driven into His hands and feet. He came into the world to be lifted up from the earth between two robbers. He came to save you by dying.

“He saved others, he cannot save Himself?” mock the chief priests, Israel’s religious leaders. At the foot of the Cross, Jesus is the big fool to them. But, for you, He is no fool, is He? Today we learn that Jesus saves you by not saving Himself. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

O Sacred Head, now wounded, With grief and shame weighed down, Now scornfully surrounded With thorns, Thine only crown. O sacred Head, what glory, What bliss, till now was Thine! Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee Mine.” (LSB 450, verse 1)