Ponder: The cruelty and shame Jesus suffered for us.
Scripture: “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18, NKJV).
All four gospels mention that the soldiers who crucified Jesus divided His garments among themselves, casting lots (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23, 24). The four accounts complement each other, providing an interesting, informative, and helpful record. Let us observe three things:
Man’s Inhumanity to Man: As Jesus suffered and bled for their sins, these cold, cruel, callous soldiers divided among themselves the very clothes they had just stripped off of Him! Worse than vultures, they couldn’t even wait until He was dead. Whatever pittance the clothes were worth was more important to them than the appalling agony Jesus was enduring. But don’t most people, even today, concentrate on trivial matters, behaving as though Jesus had never died for them?
The Shame Jesus Endured: John explains that “the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it but cast lots for it, whose it shall be’” (19:23, 24). Having already portioned out Jesus’ other garments, the soldiers came to the seamless tunic – His under-garment. As if death on a cross weren’t awful enough, Jesus endured the humiliation and indignity of public nakedness. Artists portray Him partially draped with a towel; but rest assured, they made no such effort to respect His modesty. Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). May our behavior never be such as would “crucify again . . . the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:6)
Proof that Jesus is the Christ: John and (in some manuscripts) Matthew inform us that casting lots for Jesus’ clothing fulfilled Psalm 22:18, a long-recognized Messianic prophecy. The soldiers knew nothing of the prophecy and had no interest in fulfilling it; but God, in His infinite foreknowledge, had recorded their actions in writing centuries before they occurred. The soldiers unwittingly helped to prove that this one whom they esteemed so lightly was, in fact, the very Son of God. May we never, in word or deed, deny that Jesus is the Christ; rather, let us take His gospel to the world He died to save!
Song: Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Prayer: Gracious Father, we thank you for giving us a Savior who endured the cross, despising the shame. We marvel at His love that motivated Him to do this so we might be saved. Help us, we pray, to honor Him by the way we live, and to spread His good news to the world. In His name, Amen.