When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.Luke 23:47-49
Before I look at the overview of each of these three groups and respond to what I left you with over the last few days I want to address some comments or questions some of you forwarded today. They relate to the reference to Jesus as truly being Son of God as Matthew and Mark record. The questions or comments have centred around whether I think the meaning is that the soldier recognised Jesus as THE SON OF GOD or a righteous or innocent man? Good questions. That is the whole point of the debate. What is the significance of the soldier’s comment? Is it that he saw Jesus as Messiah, Son of God, in essence God coming down and dwelling among us. Or is he simply recognising that Jesus was a righteous man, an innocent man or a good and a just man? I think for a Roman soldier to recognise Christ’s Deity or Messiahship or that He was and is THE Son of God is taking the statement too far. Yet clearly he saw something of a grander nature than recognising Him to be a righteous man.
Note too something I didn’t say in the last Gem that the statement made by the soldier as recorded in Matthew and Mark is without the definite article – THE. Effectively therefore in the original Greek text the sense appears to be he saw Jesus as a son of God. Then on the other hand Luke (and even more especially Matthew) paint a bigger picture leading us to believe the soldier saw a larger Jesus than that. What do you think? Do you think he referred to Jesus as merely a son of God, a righteous man OR The Son of God, Messiah, the God who came down?
Remember I asked the question:
- Why did the crowd who came to see the crucifixion go home in deep sorrow?
- Did you come up with an answer to that question?
Notice how the NASB version describes the crowd when the crowds, who came together for this spectacle, observed what had happened . . . they went home in deep sorrow – literally beating their breasts. Why the contrast between the crowd and the Roman soldier? Notice the two words used. This crowd had come to see a spectacle. This was not the same deeper look the Roman soldier took. The word to see or observe in the case of the crowd is the word [θεωρέω] theōreō to be a spectator, behold, look on, see or observe. What are they looking at? Luke tells us they were spectators of the spectacle – [θεωρία] theōria spectacle, sight, that which is observable by the spectators. Notice the repetition in the similar construction between the derivation of the noun and the verb. Θεωρούντες . . . Θεωρίαν // Spectators of a spectacle. This crowd are vicarious observers. Those looking on but with no intention of taking part. I suspect they wanted to see what this Messiah would do. It follows in the same vein as the demand from the leaders for a sign. But I suspect even with the well meaning among them, they have it figured that this Messiah will bring in the Kingdom for Israel NOW. Then suddenly He is dead. What went wrong? No wonder they go home in deep sorrow. The spectacle has ended. There is nothing more to see. Oh but wait three days!
As I pointed out in the previous Gem, the friends and followers are standing at a distance. Those who should have been close and identifying with Jesus are standing aloof and apart from Him. John depicts for us that He John, was obviously closer (like the soldier who stood directly in front of Him) when Jesus spoke and said, “Mother behold your son”. Most abandoned Jesus when it came to the crunch, like Peter. Do you see the contrast between each of these groups? Only Luke brings it out. By reducing the content of his gospel and placing these three groups in a contrastive comparison we see there are those who worship, there are those who come simply to be observers and there are those who stand aloof and far off. And sometimes, as in this case, it will surprise you who does what. The least likely to worship is the Roman soldier but he does. The ones we would think would worship, don’t. They seem more afraid of what others will think of them. And then there are the ones stuck in the middle, the crowd, who merely come to observe.
Which are you? Your answer as to whether you see Jesus, a righteous man or Jesus, the Messiah will determine whether you worship, watch or walk away.
God not only loves a cheerful giver, He honours a sincere worshipper.Anon
This Sunday put yourself into the lyrics of each song, considering them your own personal personal statement to God the Father. See what a difference it makes.Ian Vail
Are you a true worshipper, an observer or one who stands at a distance?Ian Vail
Now is the time when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John ben Zebedee)John 4:23-24