AT the trial of our Lord, Peter, warming himself at the enemy’s fire, denies his Master. Beware of warming at the devil’s fire. Jesus answers the priest’s clear question, “Tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God,” with an unmistakable affirmative and prophesies His return. Judas returns the blood-money and hangs himself. He purchased his own graveyard with the proceeds of his iniquity. Trade with the devil and you buy a graveyard!
Pilate faced three options. The first alternative was cynicism or Christ: “What is truth?”; Christ is the answer to cynicism. In the choice between Barabbas and the Lord, he faced criminality or Christ; Christ is the answer to criminality’s problem. And Pilate faced the issue of Caesar or Christ. And every one of us faces the one supreme question: Shall we crown or crucify Jesus?
It seems that God so arranged it that every type of person should be represented at the cross. If you look closely, you will soon recognize your crowd. There were the soldiers, who only administered the wounds which all the sin of all the world caused. They sat and watched Him, and they gambled for His robe—and so do men today idly face Calvary and gamble away their gospel opportunity. If you are not a soldier of the cross you are a soldier at the cross.
There were the passersby who wagged their heads. It is fashionable to pass Calvary wagging the head. They misquoted His claims, they minimized His death, they mocked His Deity. So men today see no need for Calvary.
Next were the chief priests, scribes and elders. No group of men has behaved worse at the cross than the religionists. Today there are no worse enemies of Christ than those hypocrites whose names are on church books, who perhaps work in the church, read the Bible, pray in public, give money to the church, but who merely draw near with their mouths and honor with their lips while their hearts are far from God.
Then there were the people who merely stood there, beholding. They just looked on and did nothing. But all that anyone needs to do to be lost is just… nothing. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” They smote their breasts and returned home terrified. The publican in the temple smote his breast and went home justified because he truly repented!
The centurion went further. He feared greatly. He confessed that Christ was righteous; he called Him the “Son” and “God”; he glorified God. Yet one may do all this and be lost.
It is not surprising that the one who got most out of that awful day was the lowest character of them all, the repentant thief. The first person to enter Paradise after our Lord was a thief! But is it not in keeping with the whole tenor of the gospel that God has chosen those who are base and despised, and the ones who have profited most are those who have come “without one plea” except His shed blood!
One other group remains: those who loved Him. We sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” but do we love Him crucified and do we love the old rugged cross?
After all, there are only two classes at the cross: those who rest upon the work He accomplished there for our redemption and those who reject the provisions of His love. Where are you at Calvary?