Mark 15:29-32 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
It’s ironic that while Jesus was busy dying on the cross for the sins of all people, a group of those very sinners milled about at the foot of the cross taunting him to come down. In their frenzied demands for Him to prove Himself, they missed the very evidence they claimed to be seeking.
The mistake of the passers-by, hurling insults and shaking their heads, was that they really didn’t know what Jesus had said in the first place. Repeating the false charge against Jesus presented to Caiaphas the night before, they allowed themselves to become cogs in the rumor mill. They were like people today who kind of, sort of think they know what the Bible might say, but they can’t be bothered to go to the source and check their facts.
The chief priests and teachers of the law took evil a step further. Saving others, they implied, was meaningless if He couldn’t save Himself. Surely, they weren’t trying to be difficult; they just wanted a reason to believe. Right. That’s why three days later, when given precisely such a reason, they discounted it and paid those who had guarded the tomb to lie and say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” There’s nothing like having an agenda and sticking to it.
How easy it is to spot the flaws of those present at Christ’s crucifixion and of those who act similarly today. But in judging them, I condemn myself, for Christ said, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
The truth is, my sins alone drove Jesus to the cross. I’ve misused His Word like the passers-by and have gone my own way like the chief priests and teachers, and I’ve done worse. Will my voice then echo, “Come down from the cross,” as I look to the sins of others to try to justify myself through misguided comparison? Or will I thank Him for enduring the cross and giving His life so mine could be saved?
Thank you, Jesus, for the promise of your Word that if we confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We know this is possible only because you were willing to endure death on the cross.