Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (verses 39-43)
Mockers mocked. Unbelievers confidently refused to believe. The one piece of evidence they claimed would change their minds was the very thing Jesus would not do. “Come down now from the cross and we will believe.”
The irony, of course, is that had he come down, he would not have been the Son of God he claimed to be.
Those hurling insults had skewed the available evidence, drawing wrong conclusions.
Yes, he would indeed restore the temple of his body in three days, just as he’d said. But, no, he would not save himself.
Yes, he had indeed saved many others, in body, soul and spirit. But, no, he would not save himself.
Yes, indeed, if he chose, he could certainly do that saving work for himself. He could call twelve legions of angels to his aid in an instant. But, no, he would not do it.
Because the cross is where Jesus was meant to be. Although the disciples never really seemed to understand, Jesus had told them his destination many times over. He set his face resolutely to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). He wouldn’t shrink back from his hour. It was the reason he had come.
And so he stayed the course. He remained on the cross.
In so doing, he saved many. Praise God. He destroyed the temple in order to build it again, three days later. He trusted wholeheartedly in God, his Father. He submitted himself to the Father’s hands for rescue.
And he showed himself, truly, to be Son of God.
Praise your name, O Lord Jesus. Praise you that you are the divine Son, fully revealed at the cross. Praise you that your tenacity there saved me for all eternity. Praise you that your broken body was restored on the third day. Praise you that you are King of Israel and King of all. Praise you that God, your Father, fully approves of you, delights in you, and has vindicated you. Praise you, Lord Jesus.
Take time: Let this be a day of praise and wonder. Put a reminder in your phone, setting aside 3 times today to pray this prayer. Reflect and praise and give thanks.
Photo by Duncan Sanchez on Unsplash