After a disheartening hour of watching the evening news, I went into my office. (It’s actually our dining room.) I sat down and took a few minutes to reflect on man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Scenes of the horrible murderous raids on the Samburu tribe in East Africa, where NHIM has worked over the last decade, came to mind. I also thought of the atrocities in Syria and a myriad of other places on earth where mean and vicious men torture and murder innocent men, women, and even children. Maybe it’s a quest for power or maybe just a mean spirit that causes some men to take delight in hurting people and hearing their cries for mercy.
I began to wonder who the meanest men that ever lived might be. I was soon compiling a list. Perhaps it was because of the influence of the Easter season, but I have arrived at a group that I want to put forward as candidates for “ The Meanest Men Who Ever Lived”. It’s the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus. First, let me speak a word on behalf of these hard and violent men. It is terrible that they brutally beat Jesus. But the scourging was ordered by Pilate, and the soldiers were carrying out orders (John 19:1). When they crucified Him – nailed His hands and feet to the cross – they were doing their job. They were assigned executioner duties; they followed orders because they had no option.
Oh, but they didn’t have to plat a crown of thorns and jam it on His head. They intended to torture Him and inflict indescribable pain for the sheer joy of making Him suffer more. They knew that the skullcap’s skin was thin and filled with very sensitive nerves. They knew that ramming the sharp and hard thorns into His skull would cause unbearable pain. Matthew 27:29 tells us the soldiers also mocked Him and spat on Him. They didn’t have to do that. It was not part of their orders. Then, Matthew informs us that they “struck Him on the head”(v.30). Undoubtly, this was to drive the thorn spikes deeper and inflict even more suffering and pain. They didn’t have to do that!
I thought these men would be my nomination for “Meanest Men Who Ever Lived”. Then a sobering and unnerving scripture came to my mind. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame” (Heb. 6:4-6). It seems there are as many explanations of this passage as there are commentators who attempt to deal with it. I am willing to let every believer wrestle with this passage as I have. But, it says to me that if I continue in willful sin I am a crucifier also. Perhaps it has something to say to you.
Friends, we must understand, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). We don’t have to keep on hurting Him. We must not continue doing things that we know are wrong and thus “crucify Him afresh”. We must not claim to be Christian and then live like the fallen world around us lives. To do so brings “open shame” to the name of Christ. We do not have to be ‘persistent sinners’ and wound Him. If we choose to, are we not then candidates to join the ranks of the meanest people that ever lived?
The point I wish to make is simply this, the meanest thing any of us is capable of doing is to continue sinning and excusing that sin by a presumptive response such as, “Oh well, I’m only human,” or, “everybody sins everyday in thought, word and deed”. While weakness of the flesh is a continual problem for us all, it is not an excuse for continuing in sin. God forbid that we should continue sinning because we are now under grace. The meanest thing we can do is to take for granted His love and grace. We don’t have to shove that crown of thorns on His blooded brow.
~ Brother Roy