Matthew 27:32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’ ” 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
There are a couple of things to notice here. First, there is rejection on all sides for Jesus. The Romans mocked Jesus with the sign “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”. Average people mocked him saying “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!” Then the chief priests called him “King of Israel”. Their assumption is that Jesus is none of these things, or else he wouldn’t have been hanging from a cross.
The second thing I find interesting is the irony in the passage. All of the statements about Jesus were, in fact, true. He really was the King of the Jews, restorer of a destroyed temple (Jesus’ body was the temple restored in three days), and the King of Israel.
Of the two, it’s the first point that is more interesting to me: In the end everyone betrayed Jesus – Jews and Gentiles.
There is incredible power in human community. We are inherently relational beings who tend to do better when we have people with whom to share the journey of life. Even when we go through incredible trials and sufferings, having at least one other person to go with us can make all the difference. A person alone can be fairly easily broken. A pair of people is much stronger. I’m reminded of a passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 4:
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.
In the end Jesus was alone. Even God the Father forsook him at the cross. Perhaps that’s why the last thing Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew is, “Remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Are you lonely? Lots of people are. Loneliness isn’t simply a matter of not having people in the same physical space as you. One can be in the midst of a great crowd and still be lonely. Loneliness is more an emotional/spiritual state than a physical one. We need other people to journey with us through life, but sometimes that’s just not possible – for any number of reasons. I too feel lonely from time to time.
Today I’m remembering Jesus’ promise to always be present with us. Of course, Jesus himself ascending into heaven to be with God the Father. But Jesus also provided for us by sending us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity who dwells in the hearts of believers. This morning I’m asking the Lord to be made known to me. To you.
Lord, let it be so. Amen.