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26. The Official Blasphemy
(Matthew 27:39-44)
39And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads40and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”41Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said,42“He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.43He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”44Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing. (Psalm22:9, Wisdom2:13,16-20, Matthew26:61, John2:18)

While the Holy One was hung on the accursed tree with His muscles torn under the weight of His body, the powers of hell attacked Him. These powers wanted to destroy the act of redemption on the cross. The Jews and the leaders of the people repeated the devil’s words, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” It was as if they were saying, “Come down from the tree of shame and we shall believe in your divinity.” But those who passed by the cross lied. They would not have believed Him nor accepted Him and this reconciliation. What mockery Christ had to endure, listening to the bystanders who made their belief in His authority conditional on His coming down from the cross! This demand was undoubtedly inspired by the devil, who from the beginning, had been trying to prevent Jesus from completing this redemption. If Jesus had come down from the cross, He would have complied with the devil’s design, thereby destroying our redemption and our reunion with God.
From the mockery Jesus received, it appears that He had clearly confessed His Sonship to God. Those who passed under His cross testified to Jesus’ confession that He was true man of true man and true God of true God, born and not created, having one essence with His heavenly Father. He who dares to object to this striking testimony shows that he does not realize Christ’s power that was apparent in His miracles. Also, he does not recognize the importance of Christ’s passion and death for the sake of reconciling us with God. Furthermore, he does not want to know His truth and the reality of His resurrection from the dead.
The Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, nor did they expect that God would free the Crucified One from His cross. Rather, they tempted God Himself to save the tortured One if He was His beloved Son. How tricky is the devil who inspires men to tempt Christ to destroy the redemption prepared from eternity.
It was a reproach to Christ that He was crucified with the two robbers. While He lived, He was separate from sinners. But in death, He was associated with the vilest criminals, as if He had been a partaker with them in their sins. He was made sin for us and took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh. At His death, He was numbered among the transgressors. He was associated with the wicked, so that we, at our death, should be numbered among the saints and have our lot among the elect.
God’s love guided Jesus to the cross. He did not act selfishly, nor did He think of Himself. Instead, He focused on the miserable multitude who were going astray. His coming down from heaven, His living among sinners, and His miracles are filled with love and self-denial. But the devil defamed Christ when he guided the demon-possessed leaders to cry, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” Christ could have saved Himself, but because He loved us, He was crucified. He loved those who mocked Him and asked the Father to forgive them. The multitude who called Jesus to come down from the cross had opened themselves to an evil inspiration, for there is no salvation except through the Crucified One. Therefore, what do you think of the crucifixion?

Heavenly Father, we rejoice because Your only begotten Son is holy Love. He did not agree to any temptation, selfishness, or grudge towards those who mocked Him. He redeemed us with His persevering love on the cross. Forgive us our sins, and fill us with Your love so that we can abide in Your grace. Strengthen us with the Spirit of Your Son and give us grace to love sinners and sanctify Your holy name and Christ, our only Redeemer, in a life of service, patience, and thankfulness.
What is the meaning of the Jews mockery of Jesus?