19 July 2019

Welcome to Friday’s podcast. Next week STC’s team leader Mick Woodhead will pick up the baton and lead us through our final week of Podcasts before the summer term.

Today is our reading is John 19: 16b-27 but today I’ll focus on verse 24:

‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
‘They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.’
So this is what the soldiers did.

REFLECTION:

A few weeks back my colleague Liam refereed to the hit TV series Chernobyl. The reason I heard about the show was because I’d seen it reviewed in various newspapers and online & via word of mouth. The show is huge! It even has a podcast to go with each episode.

A crucifixion in the Roman Empire was as popular as today’s hit TV shows. Word of a crucifixion would spread, and thousands could turn out to watch their hit gory version. A crucifixion was designed to demonstrate the extreme power of the state (Rome) and serve as the vilest reminder that it was in control. Crosses would come in different shapes and sizes from a single bar nailed to a tree to an X shape where one could be crucified upside down.

Designed for maximum humiliation and degradation, part of the entertainment would the executioners – they would violate and degrade their victims, much to the enjoyment of the crowd.

People would die (sometimes taking days) of suffocation depending on how they were fixed to the cross, which often depended on their crime. Their heart and lungs would stop working – eventually.

I’ve read of Jesus’ crucifixion many times. It’s horrendous. This time though I’m struck by two things. The Jewish leaders’ stress over the sign Pilate places above his head and the fact that soldiers cast lots for his clothes.

This may be a long shot but I see two images here:

Firstly the Jewish leaders. Pilate has fixed above Jesus’ head a sign – a common thing for a crucifixion – to say what the crime was. Pilate, slightly tongue in cheek, says ‘Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews’ – I feel to lighten the tone of the podcast I should quote Alan Partridge who once said ‘to me Neil Diamond will always be King of the Jews’ – but this sign causes real offense to Jewish leaders. The irony is not lost – they have been so politically devious – they can’t stand the Roman State and its occupation of Israel, but through various sycophantic / Machiavellian methods have worked with them to get what they want – Jesus’ death.

For me this says something about striving – pushing through. Striving is to make great efforts to obtain something or push through.

I find that’s a temptation in my own life. To get an idea and press on – push through – make happen. Work out how and whom I need to work with to get the job done.
Sometimes in life we need to battle, fight and stand up for the count. We need to make connections and work hard. Sometimes we need to make stuff happen! Sometimes we need to battle for the breakthrough.

The other image is the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothes. They see that his undergarment is quality and so don’t want to rip it! It was valuable. In fact, it was so significant and subtle – but it’s something that a priest would wear. It’s Jesus walking in his true calling as high priest and this moment was prophesied in Psalm 22:17-18: ‘All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment’. This is exactly what the gospel writer John tells!

I cannot fathom the gruesomeness of the cross. And yet Jesus surrenders himself to the will of his father.

He doesn’t fight it – doesn’t challenge it – but wearing the garment of the priest and telling Pilate (which we talked about yesterday) that he was under God’s authority – there are times in life where the pattern before us is to surrender to God’s will.

So, how do we know the difference? Bill Johnson the US Pastor says that we don’t always know what to do – are we in a season of battling or surrender? The key is relationship not a principle. Jesus is in relationship with his father and as such is pretty clear on who he really is!

Are you battling? Are you tempted to strive and force stuff through? What do you sense the Lord saying? Is it time to surrender to the Lord and rest in grace knowing you’re safe in Him?

The key is relationship.

PRAYER:

Father help us to walk in step with your spirit – this summer season speak to us afresh. In Jesus’ name, Amen

READING: John 19:16b-27

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write “The King of the Jews”, but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’

Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

‘Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

‘They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.’

So this is what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.