Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Faces In The Crowd


  Play along with me for a moment. Recall the last photograph you saw on the news, perhaps of a politician, maybe a tight-end catching a Hail-Mary pass, or an entertainer belting out your favorite song.There are always people in the background, unknown faces with life stories just as important as the prominent person in the picture.


  Ever focus on a face in the crowd and wonder what their life story was about: Where they were from? How come them here? How did they feel about what they were witnessing? Ever wonder about their relationship with God: Were they atheists, agnostics, believers, faithful participants in God's household?


  It's the day after the crucifixion; you're reading the "Jerusalem Times" with pictures of a self-proclaimed Messiah dying on a cross outside the city. As usual, there are faces in the crowd, and we wonder what's their life story?


  Judas– Hanging from a rope beside the path across the Kidron. Conscience come home. Betraying his friend became a burden too heavy to bear, so he takes his own life. We too have a choice, will we betray Him or cultivate an in-depth relationship?


  Peter – This is the man we heard saying, "I'll go with You wherever You go, I'll never leave or forsake You. I'll die with You." But now, we can barely see his face in the shadows, following Jesus at a distance, not wanting to be recognized as a disciple. Is this our face in the crowd?


  Annas & Caiaphas – Two men who have placed ambition before a relationship with this dying man. They couldn't hear Him say "love Me more than these."


  Pilate – I hate conflict! In most cases I'll remain neutral in the argument, but there are times that neutrality is wrong. It was Jesus who said, "you are either for Me or against Me." I wonder how many times my neutrality crucifies Jesus afresh?


  Barabbas – He's been arrested, tried, found guilty, sentenced. Guilty! Where he should have died, Jesus died in his stead: "bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, by His wounds we are healed." We all share Barabbas' guilt, Amen?


  The two Thieves – It appears that both are arrogant, "heaping insults upon Him." But as the end neared, one heart was softened, and we hear him say "Don't you fear God... We are punished justly but this man has done nothing wrong." Precious words from the lips of Jesus: "Today you will be with Me in paradise." We gotta decide, arrogant or contrite heart, which will it be? Which face belongs to us?


  The Soldiers – They are only doing their jobs, indifferent to the one on the cross. They are more interested in who gets His clothing than His suffering. Indifference! What an ugly word. Lukewarm indifference was the sin of the church in Laodicea. Indifference, a sin that sickens Jesus. May we never be guilty.


  The Crowd – Prove yourself and we'll believe: "Come down from the cross and we'll believe." Many today want proof of God, but it's faith, believing without proof, that pleases Him. (Hebrews 11.6)


  Mother Mary – She lingers at the cross. Gotta ask, do we linger in our worship or are we constantly watching the clock. Amazing isn't it that the women show more bravery than the twelve? Here is an observation: The women (Those who served Jesus) are the ones who seem to love Him most, lingering at His death and at the tomb. "If you love Me you will keep My commandment!" (If you love Me, you will serve Me). Serving the Jesus in others is proof of our love.


  The Centurion – Here's a man awestruck with Jesus. "Surely this was the Son of God." Are we awestruck, or do we take Him for granted: "Ho-hum, another Sunday, another sermon, wonder where we're going to eat lunch?" Do we see our creator God on this cross? Really?


  Faces in the crowd. But one of these faces belongs to you and your writer? Which one describes us most accurately?


Randall Caselman