Watcher or Doer?

When Jesus cried “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” in Matthew 27:46, it was a heart-rending moment. The scriptures were being fulfilled as He quoted Psalm 22:1 and died on the cross. It is also challenging to note the two kinds of responses that characterized those who were present in His time of agony:

— :48 says “Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and gave Him a drink.” It doesn’t say who this “one” is, but whoever it was DID something practical to help Jesus in His need. We can only imagine how he might be rewarded one day for this sweet gesture of ministry to the Lord.

— On the other hand, :49 says: “But the rest of them said, ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.'” The rest did nothing. It was like an intellectual “game” to them: “Hmm … I wonder whether Elijah will come …”. But no practical action or help for Jesus was forthcoming from them at all.

Are these two differing responses not a parable of the same two kinds of people today? Some notice needs, feel compassion, and DO something about what they see (a Biblical definition of real mercy, see here). While others, on the other hand, regard what is happening to others around them with a detached curiosity, and DO NOTHING practical whatsoever to help.

While we can only imagine the reward that might await the man who attempted to minister to Jesus, let us not forget that such opportunities are still presented to us. Jesus said in Matthew 25, “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 27’s story is being played out again and again before us every day, as the Lord in His providence brings people in need across our paths. The only question is, which response will characterize YOU? Will you stand apart and observe the needs of others with a detached interest, and “let us see” what will happen? Or like this anonymous “one” will you spring to action and DO something about it?

About Shawn Thomas

My blog,, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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