What do you see, when you look at Jesus?
What you see him as will determine how you come to him. Is he a threat? A rival? A means to an end? The Son of God?
The Roman soldier in this reading saw the Son of God. But others saw something else.
Pharisees saw a threat to their privileged place in society. Power. Influence. They wanted to ruin him. Discredit him. Turn public opinion against him. When that didn’t work, they plotted to kill him.
Others taunted him. The thief. The crown of thorns. “Prophesy.” They saw an opponent to be defeated. Triumphed over. Gloating.
Guards might have seen just another would be leader of some backwater uprising.
Meanwhile, crowds might have been upset that the Son of David they were waiting for never actually lead such an uprising. But mostly, they wanted to please the elite.
Still others wanted personal gain. He was just a means to an end. The sick wanted healing, but not everyone even looked back long enough to thank him. The multitude liked their free lunch, and wanted more. Judas wanted silver. Even the Twelve wanted to sit on his right and left.
But one Roman Soldier saw something else. He saw the Son of God.
A Blind man saw the Son of David.
The condemned thief saw a righteous King with a future kingdom.
What did THEY seek? The blind man sought mercy. The thief sought grace. Why would a righteous king even take note of (let alone “remember”) a guilty man justly condemned, unless it was grace? But he asked to be remembered, and he was welcomed by Jesus.
How about today? People aren’t much different. People still see him as these things.
A threat to be discredited or derided? Gloated over or deposed? Both the secular world and rival religions have many such people.
A means to an end? Have you seen Christian books or TV lately? You’d almost think God were a vending machine or Cosmic butler, rather than Saviour and King.
But many come to him for a better reason… for what he REALLY offers. Relationship.
Real guilt for real sin needed real forgiveness. That was his work on the cross.
The veil that separated us from the presence of a Holy God was torn in two.
He offers us himself.
How foolish it would be to trade down that offer for some cheap trinket.
And yet, how often we are tempted to do exactly that.