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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS MOCKED WHILE ON THE CROSS

Matt 27:39-44 And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, 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. Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, 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. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth. (Also See Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-37)

Those that have given much study to the geographical area around Jerusalem in biblical times confirm that this mount or knoll called Golgotha, or Calvary, lay immediately beside a main thoroughfare that leads to and from the city. It is possible that this place of crucifixion was intentionally situated at this place in order for all to witness the punishment for crimes committed against the Roman government, and serve as a deterrent to the criminal intent of others. It was on this road that the passersby railed on Him (Mark 15:29), reviled Him, wagging their heads in a derisive, insulting manner. As recorded by Luke, some of these people even stopped and stood beholding Him.

Although there were two other thieves that were crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on either side, but there seems to be no attention paid to them by those that passed by. Why? We can only speculate that they were all but unknown to the Jewish public. However, the fame of Jesus, for His authoritative teaching and the compassionate miracles He performed, was known throughout the land. It is evident that He was known for this prophetic announcement: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. What His disciples, as well as the Jewish leadership, failed to understand at that time was that He spake of the temple of His body (See John 2:19-22). This truth was actually used against Jesus as a blasphemous statement worthy of death as He was tried before members of the Sanhedrin. His accuser stated: We heard Him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands (Mark 14:58).

With these events well known, it can be understood why those that viewed Jesus on the cross of Calvary taunted Him with such statements as: 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. With contempt and ridicule, the people essentially said to Jesus, "If You are able to tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days, and if You are the Son of God, remove the spikes that hold you and come down from the cross." Looking back on the time this took place we can only ask: If they did not believe Him to be the Messiah, the Son of God by His teaching, which He confirmed by miracles that were never before seen and totally unknown to mankind, why would we think that they would believe in Him by coming down from His crucifixion cross?

Just as the average Jews ridiculed Jesus, all three of these gospel writers tell us that, also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. It is true that Jesus, during His personal ministry, saved numerous individuals from deathly diseases, restored hearing and sight to the dumb and blind, reconstructed and replaced malformed limbs, and even raised the dead. These leaders confessed this to be true, yet they denied that He was the promised Messiah. Indeed Jesus could have saved Himself from this death; angels were at His command and could have saved Him (See Matt. 26:53).

As we look back on His death we all must be able to see the irony it brought about. Had Jesus "saved Himself" from this death, He could not have been God's "sacrificial lamb" of atonement that brought to mankind the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life in heaven. Luke also writes that, after Jesus was nailed to the cross, the soldiers continued to mockHim, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save Thyself (Luke 23:36-37). Although Luke tells us that one of the thieves that were crucified with Jesus repented of his sinful ways (See 23:39-43), Matthew indicates that, originally both of them were just as reproachful to Jesus as were the Jewish leaders, their followers, as well as the Roman soldiers.

As it was then, so it is now! As the Jews mocked God with their human wisdom, so the world continues to mock Jesus by disregarding and replacing His New Testament commandments with the doctrines of men! The blood of Jesus, by their rejection of Him, will remain a permanent stain of guilt on their hands.