by Pastor Doc Adkins
This week I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection again. Each gospel gives a few details that the other three don’t give. I noticed that Matthew gives the only account of the four centurion soldiers sitting at the foot of the cross.
In Mark 15:24, the soldiers cast lots for his garments, but it doesn’t speak of them sitting and watching. Luke’s account of the crucifixion tells that the people stood beholding. John’s account speaks of those who crucified him casting lots for His coat, with the next verse speaking of Mary the mother of Jesus standing at the cross.
I know the soldiers were ordered to guard Jesus carefully because that was the custom of the day. Anyone who was crucified was guarded by soldiers because there was the fear someone might remove them from the cross. Also, the guards had to make sure the crucified actually died. In the case of Jesus, even though they doubted Jesus being who He said He was, they still thought it was possible Jesus might come down off the cross by His own miraculous power.
Even though I understood the why of Jesus being guarded, I wondered, what was the significance of the soldiers sitting and keeping their watch.
Those soldiers who sat and kept guard had more time to not only observe Jesus hanging on the cross, but also to think about what they had done to put Him there. As it turned out those who had driven the nails and sat and guarded Him were the ones who gave the best testimony in their world as to who Jesus Christ was.
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God”.
The soldiers who sat still and watched Jesus experienced His power first hand. Whatever doubt had been with them as to who Jesus was, ceased to exist when they felt the earth move.
They realized the magnitude of what they had done, driving nails into His hands and feet. I believe they were not only frightened as the verse says, but I believe they were sorrowful for the part they played in His death as well.
All those who simply stood awhile in the crowd and moved on didn’t experience a powerful movement up close and personal like the soldiers who had sat and observed Jesus at the foot of the cross.
Those who simply stood and moved on didn’t realize their part in driving the nails.
They may never have realized that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
They may never have been sorrowful for the part they played in His death.
In our world today there are still those who follow Jesus when it is the convenient and popular thing to do, when things are going good crowds are shouting praise. When things aren’t as exciting they turn their backs on Jesus.
If there is a big Spiritual movement “event” the crowds stand and watch. When they see what they have come to see they go back home.
However, there are Christians who sit and observe Jesus every day. They experience His awesome power first hand and know without a doubt He truly is the Son Of God. They realize the part they played in His death. They know He died for them. They are truly sorrowful and ask Him for His forgiveness.
Today are you sitting at the foot of the cross, or are you simply standing in the crowd?
The very best witnesses for Jesus Christ spend time sitting and observing Him.
JUST A REMINDER
Until at least April 5th, we will not be gathering at the church for services but we will join together for Sunday morning Sunday School and worship by way of our outreach ministries: The radio ministry at 560AM WJLS and the sermon on the web site Facebook page at Facebook.com/ beckleyfirstbaptist.
All Wednesday and Sunday evening services are cancelled through April 5th with a targeted date of Easter Sunday as a new beginning in our church. What a wonderful day to look forward to. We will keep you posted if this date changes.
Please join me in an act of faith. I ask that we faithfully continue to support the church in giving. You may bring your offering by the church office or mail it to First Baptist Church, 422 Neville, St., Beckley, WV 25801 .
Should you need assistance or help with anything: food, transportation, medicine pick ups, etc., please call the church office at 304-253-4252. One of our Deacons or Trustees will be glad to assist you. If there’s someone that you can think of that may not have email or access to the internet, please call them and share this information.