A Mixture of Responses
Text: Matthew 27 : 32 - 66
As Jesus drew nearer to the hour of His death, so He cried out to His Father in prayer. Matthew noted a mixture of responses in the following text.
“Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said,
‘This Man is calling for Elijah!’
Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it
with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.
The rest said, ‘Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come
to save Him.’
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up
So when the centurion and those with him, who were
guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had
happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the
Son of God!'”
MATTHEW 27:47-50, 54
1. The Jewish mob
There were many who misunderstood Jesus when He ministered on earth. No matter how much He tried to explain what He said, many continued to misunderstand Him. When He cried out and spoke to His Father, and called Him, “Eli, Eli…” He was misunderstood as calling for Elijah.
Was there genuine misunderstanding? Or did their remark reflect a careless approach? If the second is true then we are looking at people who never bothered to fathom what Jesus said and preferred to interpret things as they believed.
And so they waited to see if Elijah would indeed come. In their hearts, of course, they did not believe that Jesus’ prayer would be answered! Elijah would not be sent to help Him. The unbelieving mob continued to be as they were – confirmed unbelievers!
2. The Roman soldiers
The Roman soldiers were always resented by the Jews. One of the reasons why they were so hated was made most obvious that very day. They crucified people! Surprisingly, the response of the centurion and his men offered a startling contrast.
They saw the darkness that enveloped the crucifixion grounds. They saw the way in which Jesus responded to His sufferings. Finally, they experienced the earthquake! Perhaps they did not know very much about what Jesus taught. In their brief encounter with Jesus, they came to a fascinating conclusion. This Man they had crucified was not an ordinary person. They concluded that He must be “The Son of God”.
As they heard His cry, “I thirst” (Cf. John 19:28), one of them felt moved to give Him a drink of sour wine (to be distinguished from the first drink Jesus was offered to quench His thirst – Matthew 27:34 ). What a contrasting response!
THE WOMEN DISCIPLES
To their credit, Matthew noted their presence at the scene of His crucifixion. There was no mention of the men disciples, except John (Cf. John 19:25-27).
“And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee,
ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom
were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses,
and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”
The women disciples had always been there for Jesus. The synoptist Luke paid them high tribute in his Gospel.
“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city
and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the
kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,
and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits
and infirmities – Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come
seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward,
and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from
1. The role of the Men disciples
They had their roles to fulfil. They were there to be trained as teachers and preachers of God’s Word. One day, they would become apostles and be given great responsibilities.
2. The role of the women disciples
They too had their roles to play. They may not become apostles, but their role was not insignificant either. One major part they played was to provide for Jesus out of their substances. Whatever wealth they had, they devoted that to Jesus and His ministry!
3. Their devotion to Jesus
Luke highlighted one of the reasons why they were so devoted to Jesus. Some, if not all, had been wondrously healed of their diseases. Mary Magdalene perhaps had the most precious experience of them all. Seven demons who possessed her were cast out. What profound gratitude she must have felt towards Jesus!
4. Faithful to the very end
They stood out in contrast to the unbelieving Jewish mob. They were also well contrasted against the men disciples who had fled! They may not have been allowed to draw too near to the scene of the crucifixion, but they stood just as near as they were allowed to by the Roman soldiers.
What a mixture of responses! Each response reflected the condition of the heart!