For whatever reason this little verse caught my eye back in October. What stuck out at me was the phrase, “casting lots”. It made me look up what it actually meant to cast lots. The act of casting is to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls. A lot was either a pebble, shard or broken pottery, or a piece of wood. If there were more than one person interested in getting in on this casting of lots they would write their names on a piece of whatever they were using, put it in a jar or vase, shake and let them fall on the ground. The name out of the jar to hit the ground first received the lot.
OK, so in this verse men were at Jesus’ crucifixion tossing pieces of whatever on the ground in hopes of “winning” the clothes that Jesus had worn. Think for of what the setting was like in this particular act of casting lots. There were angry people who wanted to see Jesus die. There were his family, friends and followers in anguish over what was happening. There were probably people who were just curious to see what was going on. The noise was probably deafening and then we see a group of men (possibly soldiers or at least men who were in charge of watching Jesus) hunched over somewhere in the vicinity of where Jesus was hanging on the cross. In my mind I have them at the feet of Jesus getting ready to divide up his clothing. I picture them completely focused on the task at hand and don’t notice the drops of blood hitting the ground around them, Jesus’ blood.
I found it interesting that this very act of casting lots used broken pieces of a whole. I couldn’t help but see this as a symbol that represented the brokenness of the human race. Because there were more than one man present at this casting of lots they would have put an identification on the piece they were using. Writing their names on the broken pieces of pottery, pebbles or wood; putting them together in a vase and spilling them on the ground before the feet of Jesus is significant.
Their names represented the broken, sinful nature of mankind. The reason that Jesus was on that cross was so that the broken (you and I) could be made whole again. Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us we all have the opportunity to be forgiven.
As each name in that jar spilled out onto the ground, Jesus’ blood was pouring out to cover them, to make the broken pieces of humanity whole. The men who were casting these lots at the feet of Jesus were already forgiven, all they had to do was look up from what they were doing and accept it.
Let’s look up from what we are doing and accept the forgiveness that Jesus is still offering us today.
Happy Easter everyone.