Good Friday—Vespers 2023 (Jn 19, 1–42)

Photo of the Inscription on the crucifix in the chapel of Pöckstein Castle by Niki.L

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Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross…Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.

ישׁוע נצריא מלכא דיהודיא

Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ioudaeorum.

Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων.

᛭ INI ᛭

INRI. Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ioudaeorum. Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. There He hanged. Condemned. Guilty. “Stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Is 53) He had to be cursed by God! “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on tree.” (Gal 3) “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” “Why are You so far from saving Me?” “Why are You so far from the words of My groaning.” (Ps 22)

How did it all come to this? You remember, don’t you? Τhey would not have Ηim as their king. He was “despised and rejected by men,” by his own people. “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” “We have no king but Caesar,” they cried. (Blasphemy!)

How did it all ever come to this? You know… You know what you’ve done. I know what I’ve done. How we treat our Lord. How we treat others. Chosen so many other things besides our Lord! Lived for ourselves first rather than others!

It’s not only the chief priests and elders and Jewish authorities who love “the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (Jn 12) (There’s always something we want praise and recognition for…) It’s not only Judas who loves money more than the Lord. (Our spending versus our giving makes that clear…) It’s not only Peter who denies his Lord. (Silence is just as much a denial…) It’s not only the soldiers who make fun of others…

Yes, that’s how it all came down to this, but also it had to come down to this. It must’ve been this way for your sake. Christ was not forced to go by your sins. They’re not stronger than He. No, He goes to save you from them. Willingly He goes! He goes to be your redemption, “the propitiation of your sins.” (1 Jn 2) He goes to be your Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ioudaeorum. INRI for you.

I. Iesus. Jesus, His name, proves that going to His cross was inevitable. Even during gestation, His way lead to Calvary. “Jesus” means “Yahweh saves.” It’s “the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Lk 2) Named that because “He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1) And there’s only one way that happens: “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb 9:22) Jesus, true God, true Man, was born and named Jesus to proclaim that His “blood cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn 1:7) “He died for you and shed His blood for you on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.” (Christian Question 9)

N. Nazarenus. Raised in Nazareth. He lived there “so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” (Mt 2) Growing up he “[left] Nazareth [and] went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Mt 4) The Light shone brightest at the cross.

R. Rex. King. He is King. King of creation. “King of kings and lords.” (Rev 17; Dan 7) “Lord of glory.” (1 Cor 2:8) “Prince of Life.” (Acts 3:15) King enthroned “high up” (Is 52) on cross for you. “Behold, behold your King!” Crowned with thorns for you. He is most King when He’s reconciling you to the Father. He hangs with nothing on but your sins. He becomes your sin! “He who knew no sin became sin for us, that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.”(2 Cor 5) So you now wear the royal regalia of His righteousness—yours in Baptism by faith alone. “If we have died with Christ, we shall also live with Him; if we are faithful to the end, we shall reign with Him.” (2 Tim 2:11b–12a) For by baptism we are children of God, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ.” (Rom 8:17)

I. Ioudaeorum. “Of the Jews”—theirs, yes, but not “of the Jews” only. “Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also.” (Rom 3:29–30) Jesus is the God of Gentiles also, so also their King. So He moved His royal court to “Galilee of the Gentiles.” But even “of the Jews” includes you. “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Rom 9:6–8) “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:27, 29) So the promise to Abraham includes you: “In your Seed”—that’s Jesus—“all nations, all families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3; 22:18), that is, saved, redeemed, forgiven. For He is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins” “of the Jews,” of the Gentiles, “of the world,” and so your sins, too.

INRI. Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ioudaeorum. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. That’s what Pilate wrote. “What I have written I have written.” (John 19) And what Jesus did under that banner of INRI He did for you. The crucified “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” there forgave all your trespasses, “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:14) Just as INRI was nailed there, just as He was nailed there, too. Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ioudaeorum

His name is also written on your forehead. (Rev 22; Mt 28) It was put there in Baptism. (Baptized into His name.) There you were also crucified and raised with Him. Your name also stands written—baptism tells you this, that your name stands written in the Lamb’s book of Life. Your name being written before the foundation of the world is revealed in Baptism. Just as the eternal plan of salvation, for Jew and Gentile, is revealed at Calvary and preached to the world. (Eph 3:6) For there, hanging for you is the placard of Pilate, hanging just above your Jesus who is hanging also for you—your redemption, “the propitiation of your sins.” (1 Jn 2) For He is your Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ioudaeorum. INRI for you.

᛭ INI ᛭

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