Summary: The 9th in a series going through all Christ endured leading up to the Cross. The series ends Easter Sunday with the Glorious Resurrection
Jesus endured horrible things for you and I. Last week we talked about the fact that Jesus was forced to carry His cross. He had been beaten and humiliated to the point that He could hardly move, but yet was forced to carry the cross. The suffering and humiliation did not stop there. The soldiers continued to isolate Him. The next thing that they did to Jesus was they Gambled for His clothes.
The soldiers put Jesus on the cross and they listened to the crowd. These men were unmoved by the cross. Their focus was on themselves and their own benefit. While Jesus suffered, these men took His clothes, divided them amongst themselves, and gambled for them.
Read John 19:23-24
How could these men see so much and still be unmoved? How could they gamble for His clothing and not care what is happening to the Son of God? One reason the Roman soldiers were unmoved by the cross is because of
Crucifixions were very routine to these men. It was the Roman form of the electric chair. It was the means by which criminals paid the ultimate penalty for their crimes. Crucifixion was a favorite form of execution. This was carried out on a regular basis, especially for rebels and insurrectionists. These men had become very familiar with the suffering and the cries for mercy. They were immune to it.
For many people today the cross has lost its impact due to familiarity. A cross is a decoration. Everywhere we go we see crosses on top of buildings, on tomb stones, tee shirts, on the jewelry that we wear. You know it is really amazing when you think about it, that the instrument of execution of the first century has become a fashion statement.
The law of familiarity says, “no matter how valuable, given enough time, everything will be taken for granted.” (and we see that played out in life with our spouse, kids, parents)
We can become so familiar with the cross that we are no longer affected by it. There are even those churches that have removed the cross all together from their worship. They are afraid that the cross might be an offense.
The cross is an offense! The fact that sinful men took the Son of God and crucified Him should be an offense!
I Cor. 1:8 says “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God!”
II. Prejudice Against the People Of God
The Romans and the Jews did not like each other. The Romans despised the Jews, the Jews despised the Romans b/c they oppressed them. The Jews had tried to revolt several times under Roman rule. Some Jewish zealots would carry sharp knives under their coats so that in a large crowd they could cut a Roman soldier as he walked by and then run away without being caught….Roman soldiers hated to be stationed in Palestine. The religious restrictions, the racial prejudice and rebellious populace made it one of their least favorite assignments.
There are those today who are not moved by the cross because they are prejudice against the people that the cross represents. Perhaps a Christian exploited them, or a church offended them, a preacher turned them off…
Maybe you are unmoved by the cross because of your ‘personal’ experience with the people of God. Perhaps, what you saw maybe even from a family member (parent, spouse, uncle) – was sheer hypocrisy – they got all dressed up on Sunday and spoke about grace - But lived by the law; they talked of love but showed signs of hate…. They recited “forgive my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me” YET you knew their heart was full of bitterness and unforgiveness. They sang of joy – but yet if anyone dared to express any joy or excitement they were quickly chastised them.
Christians are not a perfect people. We are sinners who serve a perfect God. I challenge you to look beyond whatever it was that turned you off and look at the cross. Jesus died while we were still sinners out of His love for us. (Rom. 5:8).
III. Material Things
Can you imagine the scene? Three men on the cross dying and the soldiers were huddled in a circle at the foot of the cross. They were more concerned about who would get Jesus’ coat than they were about what was going on around them. These men were so consumed with their own desires that they missed the salvation that was there. They missed the hope that was there. The soldiers are so close to the cross, but so far from the Christ. They were wrapped up in the fun they were having torturing this man and now they were able to gain something from all that was happening.