Monday, November 5, 2012

Harmony of the Gospels

169. Soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothes- Matt. 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24


-First, a word about the initial part of this verse concerning the crucifixion. Crucifixion was widely practiced by the Roman Empire during this era of human history, mostly for the purpose of exposing and ridiculing those who rebelled against their authority. There were stories of Roman soldiers’ exploits of cruelty in different postures and tactics for crucified victims (see Josephus, Jewish War 5.449-551). The use of nails and a crossbar appear to have been common. Modern medical explanations for cause of death by the cross conclude that asphyxiation or shock is the determining factor in killing a hanging victim in this manner. This was widely believed to be the most painful form of death execution style due to the excruciating pain and the public shame it caused. Hanging suspended by one’s arms eventually caused great difficulty in breathing, which could only be alleviated by pushing up with one’s feet to take the weight off of the arms. But that motion itself would cause severe pain in the nailed feet and hands, arms, legs, and back, causing the exhausted victim to slump down again and again unable to breathe in a slow and agonizing death. Eventually, the crucified would succumb to suffocation if the physical trauma hadn’t already killed them. *Application* Magnify the Name of Christ Jesus who suffered a tremendous amount of pain to purchase the believers’ salvation! By His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

-For what seems to be an unimportant side note to the biblical writers in the area of the soldiers obtaining Christ’s clothes, we should notice that every single gospel writer includes this part of the crucifixion. This casting of lots for Jesus’ clothes is a fulfillment of the great crucifixion prophecy of David in Psalms 22 around a thousand years before the time of Christ Jesus. This dividing up of the garments is prophesied in Psalms 22:18, and is one of the many exact fulfillments that Christ providentially achieved under the sovereignty of God’s plan. *Application* Things like this help our faith when we realize that such coordination is impossible without the mighty Hand of God in these Divine circumstances. God is at work to fulfill His overarching will and plan in this world. Praise the LORD who works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

-Luke’s gospel reveals the enormity of the Lord’s love for us all as He hung on the cross. His overriding thought was our forgiveness, which we can see based on His words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” *Application* His love is sufficient to cover all our sins. Trust in the crucified Lord to receive His abundant and free gift of salvation and restoration. The compassion of Christ is never failing and always available even when we mistreat our Sovereign. Turn to Him and realize how great a love He has for you. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!


Verse to Memorize- Luke 23:34

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