In our prior lesson we began pondering the cross from seven viewpoints. Thus far we have considered:
1. JUDAS ISCARIOT: The Perspective of Silver
2. PONTIUS PILATE: The Perspective of Self-Preservation
Let's now contemplate two more:
3. ROMAN SOLDIERS: The Perspective of Sport
Let's consider Matthew 27:27-31,35:
"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified...Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: 'They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.'"
This was just another day on the job for these soldiers. They didn't care if Jesus was innocent; they were more interested in what they could get from Him physically--his few possessions! I can almost hear them say after they nailed the Creator of the universe to a cross: "Wow, a seamless garment! I want that! Let's play a game of chance and the winner gets to keep it!"
These men had the perspective of sport toward Jesus. They were so desensitized to killings like these. It was a job for them and they felt no pity. They may have even enjoyed torturing with the scourge and nailing those spikes through their victims. It was great fun for some soldiers, no doubt! Sadly, some today have a similar perspective. Christianity to them is like a sport. They're not happy unless they're attacking someone else verbally and showing their own "supremacy." They entertain themselves by causing problems for other Christians. Paul called them "false brethren" and we still have them around today, sadly. Tragically, there are also so-called "pastors" today who don't teach the truth of God's word and don't really care for the people they claim to be shepherding. No, they're only there to fleece the flock and take whatever they can from them (they want more than Jesus' clothes today; they want money and power). Our perspective on Christianity should not be like this. What about you, friends?
4. THE APOSTLES: The Perspective of Silence
At the betrayal, the apostles all ran away and forsook Jesus (except John and Peter). And Peter didn't stick around too long after people kept identifying him as one of Jesus' disciples. Jesus predicted this would happen in Matthew 26:31-35:
"Then Jesus said to them, 'All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered." But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.' Peter answered and said to Him, 'Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.' Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!' And so said all the disciples."
The apostles had the perspective of silence at the cross because they simply weren't there! Too many who claim to follow Christ have this same perspective. When they have an opportunity to stand up for Christ and the truth, they don't. They are too embarrassed or afraid to rebuke sin. So they sit by and let others blaspheme the Bible and God's Son. Other Christians are silent in a different way. They forsake the assembly of Christians to their own detriment. They are silent when other Christians assemble for worship and encouragement because they simply are not present. What a shame! What about you, friends?
We will conclude this series in our next lesson.