What Jesus Did! 'The Gamble' — Matthew 27:35-37

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus' clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus' head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS."
— Matthew 27:35-37
Illustration of Matthew 27:35-37 — "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS."

Key Thought

They casts lots and gambled for Jesus' clothes as he bled and died on the cross in front of a mocking mob and in unspeakable agony. How does that strike you? Repulsively, repugnantly, despicably cruel!
Think about it a minute or two longer. Those who reject Jesus' death today are gambling with higher stakes and rejecting greater evidence.
These soldiers were not gambling just for Jesus' clothes, they were also gambling that he was just another piece of criminal scum that it was their job to execute. So as they were partners in this brutality, they were gambling that what others had told them about Jesus was correct—that he wasn't the Christ, wasn't the Son of God, wasn't the King of the Jews, and wasn't their Savior. But what evidence did they have to believe Jesus? Very little, until the crucifixion scene was finished and Jesus breathed his last words. Then, after seeing the things that had transpired, one of the soldiers had seen another set of facts and decided, "Surely this was the Son of God."
Those who reject Jesus today, not only reject the judgment of this soldier, but also the transformation of the frightened and hidden disciples who did not expect his resurrection and then became world-beaters after they had seen their resurrected Lord. They reject the testimony of millions of believers over the centuries. They reject the witness of Scripture, which has gone through countless attempts to silence and eradicate its message, but has endured only to inspire more and more believers.
Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for me. Every time we take these words lightly or outright reject them, or something in between, we are gambling that Jesus' death wasn't God's work and our salvation. It makes the soldiers' wager seem pretty tame, doesn't it?

Today's Prayer

Father, I confess that I have sometimes not appreciated the enormity of what your Son endured at Calvary. I have not always been gripped with what all was at stake as he suffered and died. But now, as I see what was done to him and the calloused way in which his death was treated, I am shocked and horrified. I realize more now what is at stake when Jesus goes to the cross and bears my sin so I can be your righteousness. With all my heart, I want to live the rest of my life scorning sin and rejoicing in your grace. In Jesus name I offer my thanks and praise. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

Then Pilate's soldiers brought Jesus into the governor's palace. All the soldiers gathered around Jesus. The soldiers took off Jesus' clothes and put a red robe on him. Then the soldiers used thorny branches to make a crown. They put this crown of thorns on Jesus' head, and they put a stick in his right hand. Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and teased him. They said, "Hello, king of the Jews!" The soldiers spit on Jesus. Then they took his stick and hit him on the head many times. After they finished teasing Jesus, the soldiers took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led Jesus away to be killed on a cross. The soldiers were going out of the city with Jesus. The soldiers forced another man there to carry the cross for Jesus. This man's name was Simon from Cyrene. They came to the place called Golgotha. (Golgotha means "The Place of the Skull.") At Golgotha, the soldiers gave Jesus wine to drink. This wine was mixed with gall. Jesus tasted the wine but refused to drink it. The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus' clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus' head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Two robbers were nailed to crosses beside Jesus. One robber was put beside Jesus on the right and the other was put on the left. People walked by and said bad things to Jesus. People shook their heads and said, "You said you could destroy the temple and build it again in three days. So save yourself! Come down from that cross, if you are really the Son of God!" The leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the older Jewish leaders were also there. These men teased Jesus the same as the other people. They said, "He saved other people. But he can't save himself! People say he is the king of Israel (the Jews). If he is the king, then he should come down now from thecross. Then we will believe in him. He trusted God. So let God save him now, if God really wants him. He himself said, 'I am the Son of God.'" And in the same way, the robbers that were being killed on crosses beside Jesus also said bad things to him.

Matthew 27:27-44

Related Scripture Readings

If any person is in Christ, then that person is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing people into peace with him. I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty for their sins. And he gave us this message of peace {to tell people}. So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is like God is calling to people through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God. Christ had no sin. But God made him become sin. God did this for us, so that in Christ we could become right with God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. All the graves opened, and many of God's people that had died were raised from death. Those people came out of the graves. After Jesus was raised from death, those people went into the holy city (Jerusalem), and many people saw them. The army officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus saw this earthquake and everything that happened. They were very afraid and said, "He really was the Son of God!"

Matthew 27:51-54

After a few days Felix came with his wife, Drusilla. She was a Jew. Felix asked for Paul to be brought to him. Felix listened to Paul talk about believing in Christ Jesus. But Felix became afraid when Paul spoke about things like living right, self-control, and the judgment that will come in the future. Felix said, "Go away now! When I have more time, I will call you." But Felix had another reason for talking with Paul. Felix hoped that Paul would pay him a bribe. So Felix sent for Paul often and talked with him.

Acts 24:24-26


About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.