Jesus' Footprints

Parting Garment and Casting Lots

Posted on: 17 Jun 2011

Yesterday I read about the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothing.  John 19:23, 24 state:  Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.  They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:  “ They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”   Therefore the soldiers did these things.  John was quoting Psalm 22:18

It is interesting that the heading for John 19:17-24 says King on the Cross.  Earlier in this chapter, the soldiers mocked Jesus.  They put a crown of thorns and a purple robe on Him.    They said to Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And then they struck Him with their hands.   These soldiers might have been the same ones who were gambling for His robe. 

Why would these soldiers want Jesus’ robe?  My husband thinks that it is because of Jesus’ popularity.  It’s interesting that they didn’t want to tear it.  The robe was a special one.  John gave us a description of it.  It was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  I know that they couldn’t tear it because they had to fulfill the scriptures.  They had to cast lots for it.

As Jesus hung on the cross, He watched prophecy being fulfilled as the soldiers threw dice for His clothing.  “This easily could have given Him extra courage to endure what He was facing on the cross.   This easily could have given Him extra courage to endure what He was facing on the cross. These actions by the soldiers were more evidence that, no matter how terrible His trial, no matter how dreadful the suffering, prophecy was being fulfilled, His earthly ministry was nearing its grand climax, and the provision would be made that would give salvation to any human being who claimed it by faith. Thus, Jesus had to endure, and He did” (http://www.ssnet.org/qrtrly/eng/11b/less12.html#thur).

The soldiers who mocked Jesus and the ones who gambled for His garments all acted in ignorance.  They had pierced the hands and feet of the King.  Ellen G. White wrote, “The enemies of Jesus now awaited His death with impatient hope. That event they imagined would forever hush the rumors of His divine power and the wonders of His miracles. They flattered themselves that they should then no longer tremble because of His influence. The unfeeling soldiers who had stretched the body of Jesus on the cross, divided His clothing among themselves, contending over one garment, which was woven without seam. They finally decided the matter by casting lots for it. The pen of inspiration had accurately described this scene hundreds of years before it took place: ‘For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. . . . They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.’ Ps. 22:16, 18.” —Ellen G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 223, 224.

Does this ignorance of what these soldiers did excuse their actions?  Should they be punished for something they did without knowing exactly what it was?

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3 Responses to "Parting Garment and Casting Lots"

When Jesus hung on the cross he said of his persecuters,’ Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’. The soldiers were ignorant of their actions, but they did have a conscience. One of the men watching proclaimed ‘Truly this was the Son of God’, so there was divided opinions. Also the soldiers would have probably seen and heard how jesus bore His pain on the cross, and realised that this was no ordinary person.There is a poem which asks you to decide which group of people you would have joined, if you could have been there in that day. And it is just as relevant today, for you and me today.

Here is the poem: If You Had Been There.

If you had been around the cross on the day the Lord they crucified,
Which group would you have stood beside?
The scoffing crowd of angry men, who blasphemed God and did deride,
With jutted lips of foolish pride?
Or at his feet with dice in hand, ignoring God, your goods expand?
Perhaps in brutal unconcern, you’d mock Him, and his love you’d spurn.
Or would you take your place alone, as did the thief with judgement faced
And turn to God, and ask His grace?
And then, at last, you too could stand,
With those,

whose broken hearts would see the Christ of all eternity.

I sent this poem to link up with my first reply, to Parting Garment and casting lots.

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