October 28

Text: Matthew 27:35, 36

And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots; and sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.  (NASB)

The executioners customarily profited from an execution by dividing the victim’s clothing.  This indicated the value then placed on clothing (see Judges 14:12, 13 and 2 Kings 5:5 as illustrations of the ancient value of clothing).  It was decided which soldier received what item of clothing by what we would call a game of chance—the soldiers threw “lots” after they completed the task of crucifixion.

Their second task was to guard the body of the crucifixion victim as he died upon his cross.  They were to make certain that those who were grief stricken by the suffering of the victim did not attempt to rescue the victim.

In Jesus’ case this guarding was extremely important.  Jesus was very popular with a large segment of Jewish society—the opinion of the chief priests and elders who had Jesus crucified did not represent all society!  Jesus also had disciples and devoted followers.  Many benefited from Jesus’ power.  There was no shortage of people who considered Jesus’ crucifixion a horrible act of injustice.  It was not inconceivable that some of these people might seek to rescue Jesus.

With all the emphasis that Jesus gave to his resurrection to his closest disciples, enormous problems could occur if Jesus disappeared from the cross.  It was imperative that people (plural) witness the fact that Jesus was dead and that his body continued to be in the grave. The first step was seeing beyond doubt that the living Jesus became a dead body.  The soldiers who crucified him must be able to say, “We saw him die!  Without doubt, he is dead!”  A boring task was an important job.

The dedication of Jesus’ enemies to securing Jesus’ death became evidence for people trusting in Jesus’ resurrection.  Proof of his death also became reason for believing in his resurrection.

Suggestion for reflection: Belief in Jesus’ resurrection is a belief, but a belief based on reasons.  (Read Luke 1:1-4.)

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