This is an example of how brutal and callous people can become.Maybe the soldiers worked so regularly and closely with cruel death that they barely noticed the pain they inflicted. They were just doing their duty. It was all in a day’s work. So they took Jesus’ clothes, and had a gambling session for the ”undergarment” which may have been quite a quality item. We shout at the Bible text, ”How can you men be so heartless?” But they can. We won’t change hard men such as these. Only the mercy and grace of God can.
Yet even as we shake our heads over this scene, we can again see that God is in control. He has not been taken by surprise. This was prophesied hundreds of years earlier.
”One of the most popular of…Biblical prophecies among the early Christians was Psalm 22. That is the psalm from which, according to Matthew (27.46) and Mark (15.34), Jesus himself quoted, or perhaps we should say screamed out, at the moment of his greatest agony: ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?’ As that psalm continues its awful litany of suffering, one of the many horrors it describes is the moment when the sufferer is not only stripped naked but suffers the added indignity of seeing people gambling for his clothes. John doesn’t need to do more than give the briefest description of the gambling at the foot of the cross, and to draw our attention to the psalm in question. He leaves us to think through the implication. Jesus is the fulfifilment of prophecy and sacred song. He is the righteous sufferer. He is the true King. He is the one through whose shameful death the weight of Israel’s sin, and behind that the sin of the whole world, is being dealt with. The King of the Jews is God’s chosen representative, not merely to rule the world but to redeem it.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’, part 2, p.127.
I was thinking, though, that Jesus leaves His ‘clothes’ to all who believe in Him. We can remove the ”filthy rags” of our own righteousness, and be clothed in Christ’s. What a precious gift this is, freely given to those who trust in Christ. There are other ways than theft and gambling to ‘take’ Jesus’ clothes. He wants us to have them.
PRAYER: ”In Royal robes I don’t deserve, I live to praise your majesty.”