The Lamb of God Who Suffered Scorn

(Psalm 22:6–8)

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"

“Lamb of God, pure and holy,” we sing. That’s what we call Him, our Savior who is our King. But not everyone would echo our praise. Not many are thinking of Jesus tonight, and if they were to think of Jesus, they would not likely call Him the pure and holy Lamb of God.

By the way, it was the same way at the cross. Those who passed by hurled insults at Jesus that day, shaking their heads and mocking Him: “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself! He’s supposed to be the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and then we’ll believe in Him. He trusts in God, or so He says. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, after all He said, “I am the Son of God” (see Matthew 27:39–43).

Scorn, that’s what it was—pure unbridled scorn. Out-and-out ridicule of God’s anointed, contempt for the Messiah of the Lord. It’s astounding how Jesus could tolerate such blatant contempt; yet He bore that scorn without hesitation. We sing about that in our hymn: “ever patient and lowly, Thyself to scorn didst offer” (LSB 434).

It will not always be that way. One day every eye shall see Jesus as He is, they’ll see Him in His glory. Then every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess Jesus Christ as Lord, even the unbeliever. For some that confession will be too late and judgment will be poured upon them. The true identity of Jesus remains hidden until that day. Only faith can see in this Man of Sorrows the true Son of God, Light from Light and very God from very God. There’s a dramatic contrast between who Jesus is and what He appeared to be during His earthly ministry.

That’s why Jesus suffered scorn. On Palm Sunday throngs of people welcomed Jesus into the royal city of Jerusalem with triumphant cries and hailed Him King, saying “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Strangely enough, five days later many of them were in the scoffing mob that mocked and scorned Him. “Oh, so He’s the ‘King of Israel,’ is He? Let’s see Him come down from the cross; then we’ll believe in Him.”

But Jesus didn’t, did He? Jesus could not come down from the cross because He would not. He was bound and determined to carry through with God’s plan to rescue and ransom a fallen world. Not even hell itself could deter Jesus from His chosen mission to offer Himself as the innocent sacrifice for all our sin. He is the Lamb of God—and tonight I want you to remember that Jesus is the Lamb who endured the scorn of men to win the final victory for you.

You and I don’t tolerate scorn very well. We are so interested in protecting our rank and status that we’ve grown accustomed to laying low; we don’t want to stand out in the crowd. We usually knuckle under fairly quickly when our reputation is at stake. We don’t want to lose face, and we’d almost do anything to protect ourselves.

No wonder, then, that we are such weak-kneed Christians. We are quite reluctant to let our lights shine in the darkness of an unbelieving world because we fear the scorn of the skeptics. It’s unpopular to take a stand on moral issues in an age where a “live and let live” attitude reigns, where people choose their own lifestyle and give no thought as to how that compares to the holy commands of Scripture. In such a moral climate it’s unpopular to stand for common decency and order, moral purity, marital faithfulness, integrity and truth. When you take such stands you are considered backward and puritanical, you just don’t fit in, and you’re on the outside looking in.

And what happens then? After getting hurt a few times by the cutting remarks of others, you bridle your tongue. You let vile and foul expressions go unchallenged. You look the other way when people live as though there is no God. You remain silent when God’s Church is scorned and ridiculed even when God’s holy name is defiled and abused. You just don’t want the grief.  

That’s the way it is among us. We can’t tolerate the abuse, so we remain silent rather than bearing testimony to what we know is right. We ignore sin and go along with the crowd. Sometimes we even set aside our hesitation and join in, all because we cannot stand the scorn.

Thank God it wasn’t so at Calvary. Our Savior bore the insults and mockery of His enemies that day just as bravely as He endured the bodily torture inflicted by the soldiers. All that was child’s play compared to the unimaginable agony of the Father’s wrath that Jesus put up with because He bore our sin. The fury of God against a scornful world and all its sin was unleashed fully upon His beloved Son, because Jesus carried all our sins upon His sinless back that day He died. If just one sin can send a soul to hell and call forth God’s fierce anger, think what Jesus endured as He bore the sins of all humanity.

Yet this is the measure of God’s love: that He would go that far, not sparing His own Son but freely giving Him up for us, for you and for me, for every one no matter what they we have done. And Christ’s death earns us the forgiveness for the sins even those of not standing up and speaking out as we ought

As it was with David, so it was with Jesus upon His cross. “I am a worm and not a man,” wrote King David, “scorned by men and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6). That is the way it went for David for much of his life: hunted by his enemies and rejected by his people because he did not look like who he actually was, a king. They took David for a pipsqueak of a man, a herder of sheep, some backwater boy—not the Lord’s anointed, the rightful king of Israel. Many times David was under attack and his life was in danger. No wonder, then, that in this psalm David called out to the Lord in anguish, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me?” (Psalm 22:1).

That was only dress rehearsal for what happened centuries later on the hill called Golgotha. Here the Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel hung in open shame and degradation, nailed on a cross to die a horrific death. Abandoned by most of His friends and scorned by all His enemies, among Jesus’ words from the cross were those of David: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). So low had Jesus stooped in His redeeming love that God His loving Father abandoned Him and turned His back on Him in righteous fury against our sin.

Yet this, too, is the measure of His love for sinners like us. So deep was His sorrow, so sharp His pain, so bitter His despair that Jesus understood Himself to be subhuman: “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6). In these words we catch the sarcasm in the gloating eyes of the temple authorities; we glimpse the triumphant contempt of the Pharisees. We can almost see their poisoned, mocking lips and their conceited, wagging heads: “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him” (Psalm 22:8). They thought they had the last word that day at Calvary, but they didn’t.

For the same Lord who spoke from the glorious cloud the day Jesus was baptized, saying, “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11), received His soul the day He died and raised Him from the dead triumphant and victorious over sin and hell three days later. God the Father did delight in Jesus and accepted His atoning death as full payment for the sins of all. Jesus was not only delivered for our offenses but was raised again for our justification (see Romans 4:25).

Jesus’ mocking and jeering enemies couldn’t see the whole picture. That humiliating death He died was more than it appeared to be. He truly is the Son of God, though He looked more like a worm than a man. Jesus truly is the head over all things for His Church, though He looked more like a fool than a King.

That is the way it remains to this very day. All those who know Jesus by faith confess Him to be both Lord and God, but those who reject Him go on mocking Him, for they don’t see Jesus as He truly is. He is actually God wrapped in human flesh, but only the eyes of faith can see that. Many people today think of Jesus as some sort of religious guru among others: Muhammad, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus—take your pick.

You can call Jesus a “Teacher,” and there’s little reaction. But call Him “God” and you too will be mocked because the world despises everything that the Creator treasures. That’s the way of this fallen world, and so it will remain until Jesus comes again in glory to bring an end of this created world and usher in the kingdom yet to come.

Therefore we remain faithful to our Lord who was mocked and ridiculed. He is our only hope both for time and for eternity. He remains both God and Lord, our Savior and our King, and He has not abandoned us. For He says: “Behold, I am with you always, even to end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He is our living God, not some dead and distant hero. Jesus is truly with us even now, though we cannot see Him. He is present in that Word and washing and Meal He left His Church to proclaim and administer until He returns.

All this is for the forgiveness of our sins. These means provide genuine release from guilt and shame before the Father’s throne on the basis of what Christ achieved once for all on the cross. Over and over we receive these gifts in this sacred space by the Word that is preached into our ears and the sacraments administered to us.

We should not take these gifts for granted, for they come with a high price. The very Lamb of God suffered the scorn of men and the wrath of God to deliver these gifts to us in this place. So we keep coming to receive them, then we leave to live our lives made whole and new out there, where we are called to love God in our neighbor.

So let the world mock and jeer the Lord who bought us with His blood. Let them ridicule and reject those who are called by His name and who follow in His steps. We know the glorious final chapter of this world’s sad story. We know the One in whom we have believed, and we are persuaded that He is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him until the day He comes again in glory to call us to our heavenly home. For He is our Lamb pure and holy, now and forever. In Jesus name, amen and amen.

 

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.