DayBreaks for 1/30/18 – Gambling at the Cross

Image result for soldiers at the crucifixion

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.

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DayBreaks for 12/15/14 – Joy, Pain and a Heavenly Certainty

DayBreaks for 12/15/14 – Joy, Pain and a Heavenly Certainty

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King!”  We sing it every Christmas, don’t we?  Not once, not twice, but many times!  And we sing it with gusto and joy!  It is a hard song to sing when you are glum.

The simple truth, though, is that for many, this has been a very hard year.  Jobs were lost, money ran out, a diagnosis was received, a loved one abandoned you/the family, a child spent another year without mom or dad were in prison, a pet died, or even worse, a family member.  Pain is as prevalent at this time of the year as Christmas wreaths – in fact, it may be even more common.

So, how is it that we sing of “Joy to the world!”  Are we oblivious?  Are we deceived?  Are we just simply nuts?

I don’t think so.  You see, when we can’t see beyond the pain and the hurt and the betrayal, when life seems the darkest, we are reminded at this season of a heavenly certainty: God is neither oblivious nor indifferent to our pain.

Our pain is of such concern to Him that He did two amazing things: 1) He became human and joined us in our pain so He could demonstrate to us that not only does He care, but He can understand how it feels, and; 2) He took on Himself the worst pain that we would ever have to bear – the pain caused by the eternal punishment for our sin that we should have borne ourselves.

It doesn’t necessarily take the pain away, does it?  But it is a great comfort to me to know and understand that He isn’t indifferent as many of the ancients used to believe was the case with the gods.  And this God proved it to us in the Incarnation.

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for caring about us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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