Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (
If you go to a jeweler to buy a diamond, they will often display it under a bright light as it lies upon a black velvet cloth. The contrast between the light upon the diamond and the darkness of the cloth serve to intensify the sparkle of the precious gem. So it is when we see Jesus on Calvary—the contrasts of the black backdrop of evil present there cause His love and grace to shine all the brighter. There are seven contrasts for us to consider.
THE SAVIOR SPEAKING AND THE SOLDIERS SILENT. Jesus’ words are recorded by the Gospel writer, while the soldiers are not said to utter a syllable. The precious Lord with intense effort gasps the most wondrous prayer, and His executioners do not respond. They do not care. That is the case of many in our world today. You share the Gospel with them and they are oblivious. They just shrug and go back to what they were doing.
THE SAVIOR LOOKING UP AND THE SOLDIERS LOOKING DOWN. Christ’s eyes were lifted to Heaven as He addressed the Father. The soldiers focused on the garment for which they were gambling. Is our heart set on Heaven or captivated with the world? The direction of our focus says much about the destination of our soul—up or down!
THE SAVIOR’S SACRIFICE AND THE SOLDIER’S SELFISHNESS. Jesus was giving all He had to give while the soldiers were getting all they could gain. His love longed to help others, while their lust was about what they desired for themselves. In the middle of “sin” is the letter “I.” Self-centeredness is the essence of evil. Love for others is the essence of God, for “God is love.” (
THE SAVIOR’S COMPASSION AND THE SOLDIER’S CRUELTY. In death we see Jesus’ compassion, but the soldiers were brutal butchers—black-hearted executioners, absent an ounce of pity. News reports today shock us with the savagery of terrorism and heinous murders. It writes in crimson headlines the depravity of man.
SPIRITUAL DRIVE AND THE SOLDIER’S SECULAR
DESIRE. Christ was captivated by the
eternal, while the soldiers were caught up in the material. Where is your heart? Are we living for this world or the world to
THE SAVIOR’S WISDOM AND THE SOLDIER’S FOLLY. The Omniscient One spoke of the soldier’s ignorance. True wisdom comes from above. Those without Christ are in spiritual blindness, walking toward the abyss, oblivious to the doom awaiting them.
THE SAVIOR DIRECTED BY PURPOSE AND THE SOLDIERS DRIVEN BY CHANCE. Jesus was on mission for God. He was fulfilling His purpose; He always did. For the soldiers, it was about the roll of the dice—the luck of the draw. We can be like Jesus, however, and realize, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” (
In these contrasts, are we aligned with the Savior or akin to the soldiers? Apart from a new birth our hearts are as foul as the fiends who nailed Jesus to the tree. We may as well have held the hammer and driven the spikes into Him, for our sins were the reason He suffered so. That, however, is why He came! So He prays, “Father, forgive them!” Have you received the gracious gift of eternal life? If you have not, do so now! If you have, express gratitude today!