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Are you sitting, standing, running or rising?

When reading the events of and surrounding the Crucifixion of Christ, it is interesting to watch how people respond. The self-righteousness of Caiaphas, the High Priest, as he refuses to put the blood money that came from the treasury back into the coffers. Governor Pilate as he struggles with his agonizing question, “What is truth?” Peter and his tears as he goes from expressing loyalty till death to thrice denying Jesus within a handful of hours. Hopeless John, deserted by the other apostles and unable to save his Saviour, doing what he can to support and console Jesus’ mother, Mary. Judas, the traitor, overwhelmed with guilt ends his life by hanging in a tree.

These are only a few, but the cast of characters is in the hundreds; most of them are unnamed. Although there are no specific names, their roll in the event is no less critical.

In Matthew’s account (Matthew 27) the soldiers and the crowd are referred to as “they” fourteen times in nine verses (Matthew 27:28-36). There is a handful that Matthew does name from the crowd, but he makes an effort to separate them from the mass of humanity. He does not give their names until after Christ is dead and separates them by describing them as “beholding afar off” (Matthew 27:55-56).

The majority, the crowd made up of soldiers and civilians, once on Golgotha’s hill decided to take a seat. Matthew 27:36, “And sitting down they watched him there.” There were three men on crosses that day, but they were there to watch Him. The following verses explain what they observed. At first, it is the mocking and ridicule of Jesus. From Mark’s gospel, this chest-puffing arrogance continues for three hours. Then from noon to three God places darkness over the earth.

This group of people, so close to God, sitting within a few feet of Him, seated within a few feet of the Light of the world, yet sitting in total darkness. I cannot help but remember what Jesus said earlier in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Those that live their lives without the light of Christ are in total darkness; then comes judgment day and He says, “I never knew you.”

A large group of people were at the cross, they witnessed the sacrificial death of Christ, yet none believed. Instead of being known by name, they are called “they.”

At the end of the three hours of darkness, Christ calls out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Then some of the crowd stands up.

The fact that they stand is significant. People tend to go from sitting to standing when they want to see something. Sports is a good example. A baseball game, bottom of the ninth, the score stands four to two, two outs with runners on second and third; everyone is standing while Mighty Casey approaches the plate.

Christ yelled, the feeling that something was about to happen permeated through all of them; some of them stood up (Matthew 27:47).

If a game-winning hit, or if Mighty Casey strikes out, everyone will see it. However, at the cross the standing crowd missed it. The audience said, “This man calleth for Elias.” Remember Jesus’ words? “My God, my God …” He is calling for God and “they” think He is calling for a prophet.

Down through history, many people come to the cross, but they do not see it. They do not understand that the blood of Jesus Christ washes sins away. They leave the cross thinking they must live a good life, or there is a particular religious ritual to be done, or that they must change some things to get right with God; when the only way to God is there before them. They sit and stand before the cross in total darkness.

One person in the crowd had some compassion. This person ran, took a sponge with vinegar, put it on a long stick and held it up to Jesus in an attempt to give Him something to drink (Matthew 27:48-49). Whomever this person is, his heart of compassion is not a heart of faith. This person ran to Jesus, but, he ran to Him on his terms, not the Lord’s, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), or obtain salvation (John 3:16-18, 36).

We have seen “they” who sit, stand, and even run, but there is one more group. This group appears on the scene three verses and three days later. This group has a name; they are “the saints” (Matthew 27:52-53). After the Resurrection of Jesus, the Old Testament saints arose from the grave.

Christ is the resurrection. With Him is eternal life. Some will rise to life everlasting, while many will not. Which way it goes for you depends on whether, while at the cross you are in darkness or if you see the Light.

Are you sitting, standing, running, or will you be rising?

Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email: preacherspoint@gmail.com. Preacher Johnson is available for revivals, prophecy conferences and other speaking. Sermons and archived Preacher’s Point can be found at www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com.