"Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there."
How many things do we regularly receive a day that we take for granted? If you are reading this, I can tell you automatically a few things that you have that you may not have even considered this many. You are breathing. You woke up this morning. You have your sight. You received an education at some point in your life. You have electricity. We could go on and on, couldn't we? The fact is our blessings stare us in the face and we forget all about them. For some reason we just don't seem to see how much God has done for us.
Our passage refers to the soldiers that crucified Jesus. They had already performed their acts of cruelty: the beatings, the march to Calvary, the nailing Him to the cross, the mocking, the gambling for His robe, etc. Now, they are sitting at the foot of the cross staring at what they see as a man. They do not realize that this is no mere man. This is God Himself in the flesh. He knows each of them. He is their Creator. He allowed them to take the breaths that it took to curse His name. Every bit of physical strength that it took for them to beat His body came from Him. They do not realize that before the foundation of the world He ordained this day. He knew of their vile hearts and sinful souls, but He chose to give them life just for this very day. When He said, "Father, forgive them," it included these cruel soldiers. In my mind's eye I see big, strong men with sweat pouring down their faces, dried and fresh blood on their uniforms, sitting and staring at this nameless Man. Yet, it is this Man that holds for them the keys of life and death. It is this Man that offers deliverance to their sin-sick hearts and minds. It is this Man and this Man alone that can offer them the one thing they each need: grace. You may wonder how they could be so blind!
Remember earlier when we talked about how we do not recognize our blessings when they are staring us in the face? That would fit perfectly here. Some of you know people that need Christ, but they just can't see it. You know from experience what He can do for them. You don't understand how they can't grasp this. Next time, you feel that way, remember that we also forget God's daily favor on us. Ask God to open their eyes through the leading and drawing of the Holy Spirit. Call on Jesus to destroy the blinding work of Satan in their lives. With all of your heart pray. Pray that God will shake their life with and earthquake of conviction.
As one last thought, don't forget that a little while later, one of these soldiers that just watched Him die made this proclamation: "Truly this man was the Son of God." With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
May you not forget God's gift of grace in your own life today!