January 22, 2020
Dave Kaynor - Administrative Pastor
Yesterday, the Baseball Hall of Fame elected their new candidates. Two guys made it, and about 20 guys did not. There are usually two types of stories that come out of these kinds of elections: first, the stories about the guys that made it; second (and usually more interesting for sports radio and online columns), the stories about the guys who didn't. One of the columns is called "Winners and Losers." The purpose of the column is pretty clear from the title, so no need to explain.
This morning I was reading Mark 15, which gives the account of Christ's death. I was thinking about the people in the chapter... Which ones were winners? Which ones were losers?
Pilate - Pilate was a guy with some power. He was appealed to by the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. It seems that those guys were looking to Pilate to approve their hatred of Jesus. Verse 10 says that Pilate perceived that the chief priests were envious. Pilate also had power to release a prisoner to the people. He thought Jesus was an ideal candidate, but he eventually bowed to the pressure of the crowd.
Chief Priests - Verse 1 says, "as soon as it was morning," the chief priests huddled up with their fellow cronies. They couldn't wait to take care of Jesus. Priests were established by God to be the links between man and God Himself, but these guys had totally lost their way. They were envious of Jesus, they stirred up the people against Him, and later on we read that they mocked Him.
Crowd - The crowd was influenced by the chief priests and others to hate Jesus. They called for Barabbas, a murderer, to be released instead of Jesus. Verse 29 says the passersby derided Jesus. In a mocking way, they called for him to come down off the cross and save Himself.
Soldiers - The soldiers were doing a job. Their lives may have been on the line based on how well they did it. But as I read the text, it appears they were also enjoying their job of humiliating Jesus. Verse 18 says they saluted him and struck him. They mocked him and spit at him. They took his clothes and gambled them away and they did the dirty work of the actual crucifixion.
The Centurion - Mark doesn't tell us much about the centurion until the end of the chapter. Was he part of the group of soldiers from earlier? My simple mind thinks that he was. If that's the case, his attitude changed. He would have gone from mocking to believing. Verse 39 says, "Truly this man was the Son of God."
The women - In this chapter, we read of several women observing what was going on. These women had been followers of Jesus, and had ministered to Him in the past. When Jesus was buried, they saw where he was laid.
Jesus - Earlier in Mark, it says that Jesus wanted to get out from under this burden of death, but that He ultimately submitted to the Father humbly. He lived a life we couldn't live, and willingly died a death we couldn't die.
Pilate, the chief priests, the crowd, and the soldiers - these men felt at the time that they were "Winners" - but years later, we can see that their choices ultimately made them "Losers." Yet, Jesus died for "Losers" too. As Bob likes to say, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Those people who were humanly responsible for Jesus' death were as welcome to be part of God's family as we are.
Jesus and His followers--they seemed like the "Losers" at the time, but in the end they were the true "Winners." And although Jesus lost his life, in doing so, He had the ultimate victory over sin and death.
Those 20 guys who didn't make it to the Hall of Fame are probably feeling like losers right about now. I would imagine most of us have felt that way at some time in our lives. But when we think in light of eternity, we know we have the opportunity to be eternal winners because of what Jesus did for us. The good news of the Gospel is that all who believe are given victory through Christ, and entrance into His kingdom. The Baseball Hall of Fame won't last forever, but God's kingdom will!