Death is a difficult thing to watch. It is tiring. It is draining.
As you sit in a room with someone as he dies, death itself consumes the room and tries its best to suck the life out of all the living in the room. Death, when anticipated can be the worst.
Breathing, the most natural act of the human body suddenly turns into a fierce battle. Ebbs and flows. Fluid fills the lungs and coughing changes to a menacing rattle.
Near the end of an expected death, consciousness fades in and out as visions and fits haunt the mind. There are regrets and confessions. Fear builds to a panic, and a deep depression hovers. Like an impending storm, it slowly rumbles in the background of the rattling lungs.
For those who have no peace, be they the ones dying or the loved ones nearby, the fear and uncertainty are unsurmountable. Death stings and burns like nothing else.
Although not as frequently as some, I’ve watched people die. I’ve answered frantic calls where grown children needed comfort and without asking have asked, “Pastor, they’ve called the family in.”
No question mark was required. It simply meant, “Will you come to the hospital and sit with me, please?”
I’ve gone and stayed until long after death was declared the victor. It’s never a pretty sight, and it’s not something that I readily welcome.
So, when I read what Matthew recorded about the death of the Lord Jesus, it cracks the door to a very, very dark place.
At the death of our wonderful Lord, the sun refused to shine. The sorrow grew so great until it could no longer be contained and the earth broke open, sending out no small tremors. While those are phenomenal occurrences, they pale in comparison to one simple statement made by the author of the first gospel account:
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there. Matthew 26:35-36
And sitting down they watched him there. Death became a spectacle. It became a show to watch Jesus die. Pure evil.
The crucifixion entertained them. They enjoyed watching him die. They enjoyed seeing the very life seep from his torn, mangled body as his innocent blood pooled the foot of the cross.
They sat and watched. They made themselves comfortable as they stared at his naked body. They didn’t cover him up, nor did they cover their own eyes or turn they heads. They stared. They gawked. They jeered. And, they did it all with enjoyment. They took pleasure in his death. Pure evil.
Prophetically, the psalmist said:
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head. Psalms 22:7
They hated Him, and they liked it that way. They showed him no mercy. The chief priests and rulers had a big time at Calvary that day. They mocked him.
Some of the same people who hailed him as their king and pleaded with him, crying, “Hosannah!” which means, “Save now!” Now, they shouted, “Don’t save me. You need to save yourself!”
They praised him at his entrance into the city, and then a week later they peered at his demise on the cross. Disgusting.
For me it would have been impossible to watch like they watched. For them it was fun.
Jesus took it all without one word of protest. He suffered every bit of it in silence, so that you might be forgiven. He died so that we might have life, and in all of that agony and pain, his enemies and detractors sat and watched.