Pentecost 27 Monday
“There was also this inscription above him, written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: This is the King of the Jews.”
Above his head was the title, saying that he was the King of the Jews. Yet those who want to know what kind of King he was, let them diligently contemplate him. Then they will find that, instead of purple, his entire body is bloody and covered in wounds and bruises. Instead of a crown, he wears thorns hammered into his head. Such a Priest and King we find there on the cross, so that the world is ashamed, despises him, wants to consider him to be neither King nor Priest–
as Isaiah says, 53:2-3: “We saw him, but there was no form that we might desire him. He was the most despised and most unworthy, full of pain and disease. He was so despised that people hid their face from him. This is why we considered him to be nothing.” But no matter how it looks before the world and to physical eyes, let it be for us the dearest, most beautiful, and sweetest finery that this Priest sacrificed his own body and blood there on the cross, at a dishonorable, even unconsecrated and cursed place. For the oxen, cows, calves that were sacrificed in the temple were sacrificed on a consecrated altar. Yet Christ sacrificed himself on an unconsecrated and cursed altar. To this day, the gallows and an execution chamber are repulsive, dishonorable places. For this we read in Moses, “Cursed is the one who dies on the tree,” Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13. Before the world, this is blasphemous and dishonorable that this Priest is not afforded for his sacrifice the place cows and calves had. Yet all this takes place for our sake and for our good, so that we might learn that he offered a complete, sufficient sacrifice for our sins. Otherwise, the people at least should have had compassion with him, as we see when condemned people are led off: If someone can provide some assistance with food, with kind words, then everybody is willing. But no one had such compassion with Christ: When he desired a drink, they gave him vinegar and myrrh; when he cries out to God for help, they twist his words and mock him, saying that he calls out to Elijah. This is how evil and unjust the people think he is. This is how this Priest with his sacrifice is to fare: He was considered to be the worst, most harmful person. He was judged like other thieves and murderers. Still, there was no compassion, no mercy. In sum, all curses were to come upon him, and he was to be battered like no criminal and carry out his sacrifice at the most shameful place. For our sake all this took place; for our sins have earned this.
St. Louis ed., 13.1:471-472.