Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Where Is the Compassion?


Matthew 27:35-36 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: "THEY DIVIDED MY GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS."  Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.


Matthew 27:54  So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"


Compassion of the Roman Soldier

One has to wonder what it was like to be a Roman soldier who crucified supposed criminals in the Roman system of justice.  Roman soldiers by this time were for the most part professionals.  They had volunteered for their service and were being paid.  Many were in for the long term and most were in the service of the Roman Legion for at least 20 years.  They had to see horrible things. Today we won’t let a dog suffer, but under Roman rule, causing a criminal to suffer was the norm.  I am sure that most of those who were crucified were guilty of some crime.  But were those crimes so abhorrent as to require this kind of suffering and pain?  In the Lord’s case, these soldiers knew that he had been found innocent by the Roman governor, Pilate.  Did they ever consider that a mob might one day unjustly charge them with a crime and that they might themselves end up on a cross?  Did these soldiers have any compassion?


Sitting down they kept watch over Him there.  For some of these soldiers, this likely was their entertainment for the day.  In our day, we watch violence on TV and read about it in the newspapers and our kids play games of violence.  In the good old days we did play cops and robbers with toy guns; but, today, our children are exposed to fantasy games that are much more realistic than the toys some of us had.  I am not sure cops and robbers was a good thing back in my day, but the violence that seems to be entertainment for our children is certainly not good.  But these soldiers didn’t have to be involved in make-believe games of violence because they were not only involved in cruel wars but they were involved in cruel police actions.  Crucifixion was one of them.  So they got to watch the Lord react to his suffering on the cross.  I wonder what went through their minds.


Some Roman Soldiers were Affected by this Crucifixion

One thing that they weren’t used to in their crucifixions was a period of complete darkness.  Those three dark hours had to cause them to sit up and take notice that this crucifixion was different.  Then there was the earthquake.  The earthquake and the things that had happened put the fear of God in the soldiers that had crucified the Lord.  We don’t read of any of the chief priests who had their mind changed about Who the Lord was at his crucifixion, but some of the Roman soldiers had their minds changed.  The chief priests tried to perpetuate the lie that the Lord had been stolen away after the resurrection.  They were simply not interested in the truth.  Causing an innocent man to suffer didn’t affect them.  But watching the Lord and seeing the things that were done affected the soldiers who had to be hardened to this sort of thing. 


Where is our Compassion?

Watching the Lord will always affect on us.  For the believer, Hebrews 2:9 says,  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”  For the unbeliever we are reminded of the prophetic statement of Jeremiah which likely refers to the devastation of Jerusalem after Babylon had destroyed it.  But the statement surely applies to the Lord as well.  In Lamentations 1:12 Jeremiah says, "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see If there is any sorrow like my sorrow, Which has been brought on me, Which the LORD has inflicted In the day of His fierce anger.”


The Lord had compassion.  A group of hardened soldiers apparently had compassion.  Many of the people watching smote their breasts–they had compassion.  However, religious leaders of the Jews did not.  But do we as Christians have compassion today?  Do we have compassion on those who are passing by the cross as unbelievers and who will one day experience the eternal wrath of the Almighty God because they have rejected the only One who could and would save them?  Are we among those who are ready to kill those who disagree with us and who bully us for our faith or are we among those who are grieving over the hardness in this world and the willingness of people to take sacred life?


I hope that today as we figuratively sit down and watch Him, we are a people whose hearts have been touched.  Not only should we grieve because of the need for the death of the Lord and for the suffering involved in that death, but we should grieve for those who do not understand what this black day in the annals of human history really means.


May we be a people of compassion


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of May 15, 2016

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