“Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.”
How often do I pass over a simple verse such as this, discarding it quickly thinking it not worth my time to mine for spiritual jewels? Yet it is precisely here the Spirit stopped me.
Following the horrific crucifixion of Jesus, four soldiers divided up our Lord’s garments and then gambled for His tunic (Joh 19:23). Then, they sat down and “watched Him there.” How strange… to be so close to Christ during this moment; to be the very men in fact who raised Jesus Christ up to be the salvation to all those who gazed upon Him in faith (John 3:14), to be the closest of witnesses to the most profound moment in history, to have heard the very Son of God’s labored breathing as He endured the very wrath of God until He drank every last drop from its cup (Mat 26:42; Joh 19:30). As MacLaren writes in his commentary, “How they were so close to the great event in the world’s history and had to stare at it for three or four hours, and never saw anything!”
Oh, how often have I beheld beauty beyond imagination, stared at supreme significance, looked upon lavish love and saw nothing special. Am I not just like these soldiers every time I read the very Words of God and walk away unimpressed? Am I not just as heartless as these executioners when I hear the gracious Gospel preached and am not overflowing with gratitude? Am I not just another cruel mocker every time I live for my own selfish pleasure and glory and give no thought to the will of the One to which I owe everything (for He not only created me and blessed me with everything I have, but also saved me from my own sinful spiritual suicide)?
Yet I often miss the true nature of my trespasses, because I fail to see the value of the One I scourged and mocked in my rebellion. How I give such little thought to the pain I inflict to the heart of God, or to the marring of His image (Mat. 27:30; Isa. 52:14; Gen. 1:26), because I failed to see how majestic, and glorious HE is.
What might it do for our Christian walk, brothers and sisters, if we but saw ourselves as those blind soldiers, who mocked the King of Kings with mouths carefully crafted by Him in creation (Col. 1:16); who spat in the face of the One whose own spittle opened blind eyes (John 9:6); who callously gambled away His precious garments which held the power to heal old wounds (Mat. 14:36; Mark 5:27-29); who pierced the precious hands in which held the power to take away all our guilt and shame (Mat 8:3).
Oh Lord, help us catch greater glimpses of Your glory this week. Help us behold Your precious value so that we can begin to see more clearly our part in Your crucifixion. Not for us to wallow in guilt but bask in gratitude (Luke 7:42). Help us see how our own hand swung that hammer and how we shamefully sit down and go about our business, giving no thought to Your sacrifice. Please forgive us of our thoughtless injustice, our willful ignorance, and the mockery in which we participate. Thank you for Your astounding grace, Your immeasurable mercy, Your limitless love. Amen.