Please read the gospels accounts of the crucifixion. Jesus had been unjustly condemned and led away to be crucified. A great company followed the Christ to watch him being nailed to the Cross and watch him dying. Very few knew that He was dying for the sins of mankind, their sins. The escort for the crucifixion consisted of 4 soldiers and 1centurion. I would like us to consider 3 of these military men.
1. The First Soldier (John 19:23-24)
Christ’s shed blood was being ignored
The soldiers had finished their terrible work, they had nailed him to the cross. They had nailed the title above his head, they had reared the cross up and dropped it into its supporting hole. Thud . The four soldiers saw the face of Jesus Christ ridden with agony. They were satisfied, it was just a matter of waiting. Whilst waiting they drew lots for the 5 items of Jesus’s clothing, the last lot was for the seamless coat. The soldier that won it, let’s consider him.
A) He won a coat but lost his life.
In the soldiers earshot just prior to his gambling for Jesus’s clothes and coat he had heard Jesus say ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’
Didn’t ring any bells with him he was more concerned about material things.
More concerned about temporal possessions rather than the eternal possession of heaven. Wrong priorities.
B) He was so near yet so far away.
The soldier stood so near to the Lord, came so close to salvation unfortunately his heart was set on something else. Wrong priorities.
C) When darkness overshadowed the land the soldier was already in darkness.
This soldier saw Christ’s blood being shed, heard Christ’s seven cries from the Cross, saw the sign the king of the Jews yet he preferred darkness to light and gambled his soul away. Wrong priorities.
The Second Soldier (John 19:31-34)
Christ’s shed blood covered his spear.
The soldiers were ordered to terminate the lives of their prisoners early, this was not usual, crucifixions were slow and painful deaths but because of the Jews request the order was given. To accomplish this the legs of the prisoners would be broken. The legs of thieves were broken but when they came to Jesus he was dead already so he did not break Jesus’s legs (Psalm 34:20). However one of the soldiers did something he was not ordered to do. He rammed his spear into the side of the Saviour. Just making sure he was dead were his thoughts perhaps, but in fact he was fulfilling scriptures ( Zechariah 12:10). When he partook in the piercing of Jesus’s hands and feet he fulfilled prophecy (Psalm 22:16). When vinegar mingled with gall was given to Jesus to drink that soldier with the other 3 was fulfilling prophecy (Psalm 69:21). When they parted Jesus’s garments and cast lots upon his vesture they were fulfilling prophecy (Psalm 22:18). That soldier saw the blood when he pulled that spear from his side but Christ’s blood only covered his spear and not his soul. He gambled that away. Wrong priorities.
The Third Soldier – the Centurion (Mark 15:39,45)
Christ’s shed Blood covered his soul.
The centurion was in charge of the crucifixion party of four. In contemplating him we can see several things. He was at the foot of the Cross. He wasn’t jeering with the crowd. He wasn’t wagging his fingers at Jesus. He wasn’t gambling with the soldiers. He was the fifth in the execution squad but did not cast lots with the others for Jesus’s clothes, he did not demand that the coat should be his because of his rank. I believe his ears and his eyes his very soul was transfixed upon the dying Saviour. During those six hours that Jesus Christ was on that cross he heard Jesus speak those seven sayings, he felt the darkness come around him, he saw the sign above Jesus’s head and a realisation came upon him that this man Jesus was righteous, indeed truly the Son of God the Saviour of mankind, the king. The Centurion openly glorified God.
Just as the dying thief got saved that day so did the Centurion. Right priorities.
Are your priorities right?
Oh what a Saviour that he died for me from condemnation he made me free, he that believeth on the Son sayeth He, hath EVERLASTING LIFE.