DayBreaks for 1/30/18: Gambling at the Cross
From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:
John 19.23-24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.
Out of all the people who bore guilt at Jesus’ death, the soldiers were probably the most innocent of all. The religious leaders had put Christ on the cross through their insistence and hatred. Pilate put him there because he was a coward and was more afraid of Tiberius than of a God he didn’t know or couldn’t see. We all were party to the event because of our sin. But as far as the soldiers were concerned, they were just doing their job. The Romans assigned a quaternion (4) of soldiers to carry out executions. The Jew typically wore 5 articles of clothing: sandals, a turban, a belt (girdle), an inner garment and an outer coat. The execution squad was customarily given possession of the clothes and personal effects of the man being crucified. In Jesus’ case it was no different. Four soldiers – five pieces of clothing. When they got to the last piece, rather than tear it into four pieces (which might have been handy only as a dust rag for their wives), they decided to throw dice (cast lots) to see who would get the fifth article.
There, at the foot of the cross, are four soldiers gambling away the time while the Son of God dies mere feet away from where they were. They were oblivious to what was happening. Perhaps nothing in the entire bible show clearly shows the indifference of the world to Christ as this. Jesus is dying in agony and the soldiers are playing games. As if what was happening didn’t matter.
As William Barclay put it: “The tragedy is not the hostility of the world to Christ – the tragedy is the world’s indifference which treats the love of God as if it did not matter.” Indeed, though the world may be hostile to Christianity, it is indifferent to God’s love. The world seeks to find love in the arms of some man or woman, in the philosophy of being kinder and gentler, in the lyrics of a song. Do you want to know where to find love? You can find it in the nails that are in Jesus’ feet and hands. You can find it in the crown of thorns. You can find it in the spear-pierced side.
How are you treating and responding to God’s love? Through our sin, we are like the soldiers gambling at the foot of the cross. Every time we sin we are showing God that Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t mean anything to us.
I suppose the world will go on gambling at the foot of the cross as long as the world exists. I hope that you and I don’t join them. Don’t let the words of Lamentations 1.12 be said of us: Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
PRAYER: At the cross may we see and begin to grasp Your unfailing love for us and not be found guilty of being indifferent to what happened there for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.