Moving Past the Past

Lectio: John 19:23-24 – “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.  So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing, they cast lots.”

Contemplation: “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.”

Meditation: Those condemned to crucifixion were assigned to a four-member Roman execution squad. The squad’s job included stripping the prisoner of all clothing, leaving him to hang on the cross in nakedness, which the Jews regarded as a wanton shame. The crucified and naked prisoner would be unprotected from the natural elements, socially humiliated and dishonored. The message of the crucifixion was direct and straightforward. That is, crucifixion and death is the destiny of every enemy of the Roman Empire. 

The execution squad would then pillage and divide the prisoner’s private property, such as clothing and other personal effects, for their use or as trophies. John records that when the soldiers get to Jesus’ seamless tunic, they decide not to tear it up and divide it, but instead, to keep it intact and throw lots for it, the winner takes all. 

Today I imagine the long-retired and aged centurion that won Jesus’ tunic on a gamble going over to his chest of war trophies one afternoon and pulling out the seamless robe. As he holds the garment in his hands, he vividly remembers the Friday of Jesus’ crucifixion. He visualizes the flogging, Jesus’ arduous walk to Golgatha, the crucifixion, Jesus’s loved ones and followers standing helplessly near the cross, the tender words of Jesus to his mother, the piercing and flow of water and blood from Jesus’ side, the darkness, and the removal of the body from the cross. 

I wonder if the centurion ever felt sorrow for what he had done to Jesus and others he helped crucify during his time on the execution squads? I wonder if the Spirit ever penetrated his conscience and convicted him of his sin, leading him to seek forgiveness from God? I wonder if he was ever able to move past yesterday’s pain, step out of his darkness, and into Christ’s light, truth, life, and way?   

Today I meditate and pray for people that have suffered from heinous acts of injustice, violence, and dehumanization at the hands of others, and that can’t move past yesterday’s pain. I also meditate and pray for people that tortuously relive the devastating consequences of their past actions and that are in desperate need of God’s forgiveness but do not know how to seek or find it.   

Prayer: I pray for the grace to not harm and point people to God’s healing and forgiveness.

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