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The Agony of Victory

Through the rejection of the cross Jesus is exalted as king

Introduction

Some years ago a 14-foot bronze crucifix was stolen from Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas. It had stood at the entrance to that cemetery for more than 50 years. The cross was put there in 1930 by a Catholic bishop and had been valued at the time at $10,000. The thieves apparently cut it off at its base and hauled it off in a pick-up. Police speculate that they cut it into small pieces and sold it for scrap.

They figured that the 900-pound cross probably brought about $450. They obviously didn't realize the value of that cross.

That is the problem of course—understanding the value of the cross. As Matthew relates the story of Jesus' crucifixion, the theme that runs through all the details is rejection. Not only didn't people see the value of Jesus, they also didn't understand the value of his death. May we not be so blind! Turn to Matthew 27:27. Let's track this trail of rejection.

Jesus was utterly rejected as the Messiah king.

As we come to this text, Jesus has already felt the heavy blows of rejection—Judas's betrayal, Peter's denial, the disciples' abandonment, the courts that found him guilty of blasphemy, and the cries of the crowd for his crucifixion. Now the descent continues.

The Roman soldiers dramatized mankind's rejection of Jesus as king (vv.27-31). They played a sadistic king game with Jesus, outfitting him like a king, but with a cast-off robe, a crown of thorns, a reed scepter, and a mocking tribute: "Hail, King of the Jews." It would have been horrible for anyone, but this is Jesus, whose rightful throne is encircled by "a rainbow, resembling an emerald," whose rightful attendants are 24 elders also seated on thrones and thousands upon thousands of angels, and beings too extraordinary ...

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Lee Eclov is pastor of Village Church of Lincolnshire in Lake Forest, Illinois and author of Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers). Eclov also leads a gathering of pastors for mutual support and learning called Pastors' Gatherings. To find out more about these Gatherings visit his site www.leeeclov.com.

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