The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (ERV) Full Text Below
They casts lots and gambled for Jesus’ clothes as he bled and died on the cross in front of a mocking mob and in unspeakable agony. How does that strike you? Repulsively, repugnantly, despicably cruel!
Think about it a minute or two longer. Those who reject Jesus’ death today are gambling with higher stakes and rejecting greater evidence.
These soldiers were not gambling just for Jesus’ clothes, they were also gambling that he was just another piece of criminal scum that it was their job to execute. So as they were partners in this brutality, they were gambling that what others had told them about Jesus was correct—that he wasn’t the Christ, wasn’t the Son of God, wasn’t the King of the Jews, and wasn’t their Savior. But what evidence did they have to believe Jesus? Very little, until the crucifixion scene was finished and Jesus breathed his last words. Then, after seeing the things that had transpired, one of the soldiers had seen another set of facts and decided, “Surely this was the Son of God.”
Those who reject Jesus today, not only reject the judgment of this soldier, but also the transformation of the frightened and hidden disciples who did not expect his resurrection and then became world-beaters after they had seen their resurrected Lord. They reject the testimony of millions of believers over the centuries. They reject the witness of Scripture, which has gone through countless attempts to silence and eradicate its message, but has endured only to inspire more and more believers.
Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for me. Every time we take these words lightly or outright reject them, or something in between, we are gambling that Jesus’ death wasn’t God’s work and our salvation. It makes the soldiers’ wager seem pretty tame, doesn’t it?
Then Pilate’s soldiers brought Jesus into the governor’s palace. All the soldiers gathered around Jesus. The soldiers took off Jesus’ clothes and put a red robe on him. Then the soldiers used thorny branches to make a crown. They put this crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, and they put a stick in his right hand. Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and teased him. They said, “Hello, king of the Jews!” The soldiers spit on Jesus. Then they took his stick and hit him on the head many times. After they finished teasing Jesus, the soldiers took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led Jesus away to be killed on a cross.
The soldiers were going out of the city with Jesus. The soldiers forced another man there to carry the cross for Jesus. This man’s name was Simon from Cyrene. They came to the place called Golgotha. (Golgotha means “The Place of the Skull.”) At Golgotha, the soldiers gave Jesus wine to drink. This wine was mixed with gall. Jesus tasted the wine but refused to drink it. The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it.
The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Two robbers were nailed to crosses beside Jesus. One robber was put beside Jesus on the right and the other was put on the left. People walked by and said bad things to Jesus. People shook their heads and said, “You said you could destroy the temple and build it again in three days. So save yourself! Come down from that cross, if you are really the Son of God!” The leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the older Jewish leaders were also there. These men teased Jesus the same as the other people. They said, “He saved other people. But he can’t save himself! People say he is the king of Israel (the Jews). If he is the king, then he should come down now from the cross. Then we will believe in him. He trusted God. So let God save him now, if God really wants him. He himself said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And in the same way, the robbers that were being killed on crosses beside Jesus also said bad things to him.
— Matthew 27:27-44 (ERV)