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 the crowd’s 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)
42a—“He saved others [but not them]; himself he cannot save.” He saved a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus (Lk. 19:1-10); He saved Mary Magdalene, setting her free from seven demons (Mark 16:9); He saved the demoniac of Gadara, 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). “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” -Luke 19:10b
The mob, led by the chief priests, scribes and elders, mocked Jesus, “Oh! Now look at the great Savior! Ha! Some Savior! He can’t even save Himself. You! the 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. Trusting the Father is staying on the cross. Deliverance from Satan’s lies, Satan himself and sin don’t come to us from Jesus getting off the cross. It comes to us 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, shame 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
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, take up our cross and follow Jesus.
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, the amenities without the agonies. 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.
Lk. 9:62—“…No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
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. Our cross includes the suffering, death, persecution, shame, ridicule, rejection and other enemy attacks we experience because we are followers of Jesus. The world hated Him. The world, including many in the professing church, will hate us, (John 15:18-20).
Satan and his demons fought Jesus from before His birth all the way to the cross. Satan and his demons fight us all the way as we follow Jesus. We live according to Kingdom values that lead us to go to places no one else would go, and to people no one else cares about and do things no one outside of Jesus Christ would do.
The cross of Christ sharply divides the human race into the saved and the lost, believers and unbelievers. The cross of Jesus Christ ever remains God’s unique and most extreme action of love taken in order rescue us from Satan, sin, death and eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Jesus willingly went to and stayed on His cross until death because of His amazing love for you and me.
Now, how about you and me? Will we deny ourselves, take up our cross every day, following Jesus no matter what the cost for the sake of those he bled and died to save? Or will we refuse our cross, or drop it somewhere along the way because we thought it got just too heavy?
The preaching of the cross is our message to the world. “… the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” -I Cor. 1:18
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.”
No cross, no Christ; no cross, no Christian; no cross, no crown!
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, or even that He stayed on the cross, but that He came up from the grave!
“And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated the Son of God in power [in a striking, triumphant manner] by His resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Messiah, the Anointed One). It is through Him that we have received grace (God’s unmerited favor) and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the nations, And this includes you, called of Jesus Christ and invited [as you are] to belong to Him.” -Romans 1:4-6, Amplified Bible
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