Matthew 27:1-54 provides an account of the most perverted and precious time in human history. In just a few short days the people’s cries of “Hosanna!” had turned to cries of “Crucify Him!” Jesus had well described the situation earlier by saying to the mob which arrested Him, “This is your hour and the power of darkness (Luke 22:53).”
Now even some of the very words of Satan to Jesus in the wilderness temptation are being repeated through the mouths of the mocking crowd, “…save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross (vv. 37-43).”
v. 42a—”He saved others (but not them); himself he cannot save.” He saved Mary Magdalene, setting her free from seven demons (Mark 16:9; He saved the demoniac of Gedara, setting him free from a “legion” of demons (Luke 8:35); He saved the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:11); He saved blind Bartimaeus and gave him his sight (Mark 10:52): He saved the woman who was hopelessly bleeding to death (Matthew 9:20-22); He immediately healed a man full of leprosy (Mark 1:40-42) and He raised Lazarus after he had been dead for four days (John 11:43-44).
The crowd, led by the chief priests, scribes and elders, mocked Jesus, “Oh! Now look at the great Savior! Ha! Some Savior, Huh? He can’t even save Himself. King of Israel? No Way! v. 42b–“If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.”
It’s not that He couldn’t come down. He wouldn’t come down. Jesus isn’t about saving Himself. He’s about giving Himself to save others, to save you and me.
Mark 10:45—”For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus did not avoid the cross. He embraced the cross. Jesus would not come down from the cross because He came down to earth for the cross. Trust is staying on the cross. Deliverance from Satan’s lies, Satan himself and sin doesn’t come from Jesus getting off the cross, it comes from Jesus Christ staying on the cross.
The crucifixion of Jesus is the central and eternal moment in the perfect redemptive plan of God. While Jesus was dying, death itself was dying (Hebrews 2:14). While the people were cursing Him, God was breaking the curse of sin by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). While Satan was dishing out his worst, God was giving the world His very best (John 3:16). While the crowds were railing, Jesus Christ was redeeming (I Peter 1:18). All the filth, horror and guilt of the crimes of the human race were being laid upon Him. A totally sinless man bore our sin so that we who are unrighteous could be declared and made righteous.
“For he (God the Father) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (II Corinthians 5:21).”
Christ’s obedience took Him to the cross. Your obedience will take you to your cross too. There’s no other way.
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:34-35).”
No cross, no Christ.
As Matthew Henry said, they are “nailed together.” No cross, no crown. The hymn writer Thomas Shepherd put it this way, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for every one, And there’s a cross for me. The consecrated cross I’ll bear, Till death shall set me free, And then go home my crown to wear, For there’s a crown for me.”
We are not here on earth to save ourselves, satisfy ourselves, assert ourselves, defend ourselves, affirm ourselves, get in touch with ourselves, serve ourselves or find ourselves. We are here to deny ourselves. The curse of the contemporary church is we want our life without our cross. The cross was okay for Jesus, but not for us. Not for me. We want all of its perks without any of its pain. We want to come and dine with Him without having to come and die with Him.
Taking up your cross is a one way journey that means fighting lifelong battles against Satan and sin in an intense spiritual war the Jesus Christ has already won. Taking up your cross is when God’s will crosses your will and you choose to do the will of God. It is dying to your own plans and ambitions so Christ lives in you and is in full control of you.
The unmistakable proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the King of Israel and the Savior of the world is not that He came down from the cross, but that He came up from the grave (Romans 1:4).”
The cross of Christ divides the human race into the saved and the lost, believers and unbelievers. The cross of Jesus Christ ever remains God’s unique and extreme action of love taken in order rescue us from Satan, sin, death and an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Jesus stayed on His cross until death because of His amazing love for you. What will you do with yours?
“Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all” -Isaac Watts, 1674-1748