39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.(King James Version)
Jesus is hanging from the cross and the charge, "This is Jesus the king of the Jews", is nailed above his head.
Can you imagine the people looking up the hill where Jesus was hanging on a cross: the crowds of ordinary people, the leaders, and crucified beside Jesus... the two criminals? Each has their own perspective. Each has their own general responses.
prophecy: Ps 22 6But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (kjv)
fulfillment: 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
This group is primarily those who were at the Judgement Seat of Pilate. These are those people who listened to the whispered charges against Jesus. Whispered? At some point when the crowd was ready the leaders would shout and inflame the passion of the people. Now they stand and mimic the words spoken in their ears earlier. Destroy our temple, rebuild it in three days. What foolishness? What Insanity? They laughed at this poor deluded fool. They showed contempt for his person. They shook their heads in disbelief.
How often has the world looked on believers and had the same response. They wait, with disbelief in their hearts, ready to twist the dagger of shame when our God fails their test. Those standing before Jesus also waited, with the same disbelief, to see God supposedly fail. God would not respect such a person who brags about being his Son. About challenging them to destroy the temple so that they could then see him rebuild that same temple in three days. A madman or a deceiver... or both? Ha!
prophecy: Ps 22 12Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. (kjv)
fulfillment: 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
Let us get in on the fun... let us mock him... let us taunt him...
They had a greater knowledge than the crowd. They heard the witnesses against Jesus fail in their testimony against him. Even those who repeated what Jesus said about "destroy this temple and I will rebuild it" couldn't get their testimony straight. They were an envious lot. They were a fearful lot. They had the ordinances of God. They had the offices of power. They are the strong bulls of Bashan. In the night they were acting like "ravening" and "roaring lions." In the day they became jackals enjoying the suffering of Jesus.
They struck the shepherd and the little flock was dispersed, the women cried from a distance. Everything was turning out quite well for the leaders of Israel. Ha!
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
Adding insult to injury, even the criminals that were hung on their own crosses beside Jesus reviled him. They threw the same remarks at him. Their taunts were the taunts of the desperate. They would have liked Jesus to come down from the cross. Then Jesus could also take them down from the cross. After all, they were all criminals weren't they? Ha!
At some point, one of the criminals will repent. The first one to do so. The first to acknowledge, even from the cross that he was about to die on, that Jesus was the Messiah. "Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom," he asked in Luke's gospel.
Deut 21 23 ...for he that is hanged is accursed of God; (kjv)
Is 53 6 ...and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (kjv)
There on that tiny blue-green planet is the Son of God. They have taken him and nailed him to a cross. This happened because God his Father needed him there. Jesus was the sacrifice for sin: one totally righteous, totally clean, totally perfect and absolutely sinless sacrifice. And God puts his "hands" on the sacrifice and confesses upon him the sin of the world, the sins of the human race. With this act Jesus becomes the recipient of the curse, that "the soul that sinneth shall die (from Ezek 18.3).
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Remember the laughs, jeers, scorn of the people? How they degraded the Son of God? Yet God would not let this time pass without showing to the people that something awesome was occurring. Something of which they needed to take notice. Something to still their tongues. Darkness, a thick darkness came over the land. It wasn't clouds of a storm. It wasn't an eclipse of the sun. It was a sign to the people of impending judgement.
These words echo the call from: Ps 22 1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (kjv)
Jesus on the cross, thirsty, in pain, dying a slow agonizing death. Why? There was no other way, he was the sacrifice for sin. The weight of the world's sin, imputed to him by his Father, weighed heavily upon his soul. He was literally separated from God.
What of the crowds and leaders? I can imagine the concern, the fear, that must have begun to build with the darkening of the sun. I can't imagine all of the things that were going on in their minds. I do believe that there was a great silence. Every tongue was stilled. Hours passed in that darkness. Then Jesus cries out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!" A man rushes to the aid of Jesus. The people? Wait! Perhaps Elijah will show up and save him? It is no longer the mocking in their hearts that drives them but the wonder of the moment. Is this a simple crucifixion or the salvation God? They no longer knew. Will Elijah come and take Jesus down? Some hoped and others feared what might happen next.
It is amazing how different the responses will be to the gospel. Is the Word just outrageous claims or the story of divine intervention? Is it foolishness or the wisdom of God? Until a man sees his own sin he cannot appreciate the cross. Until a man sees his own impending judgement, and know he is falling short, he will not appreciate the sacrifice. Yet when God overshadows their heart and they are alone in the darkness, then they will sit in silence and reflect on what they have been told. Will they accept the hope offered by God and turn to Jesus or will they continue to fear what lies in the darkness? I don't know. The Son has not yet risen in their hearts. It is a God moment.
ps: The Roman Soldiers? When they saw all that happened on that hill and the way Jesus died they knew that, "Truly this was the Son of God." It seems that a criminal and a few Gentile soldiers of Rome understood the truth before the crowd and leaders of Israel did.
Webite administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada