By Ronald G. Davis
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him (Mark 15:29-32).
The two chief priests, Annas and Caiaphas, were at the cross. They wanted to see—with their own eyes—the end of this Galilean troublemaker. Was it perhaps their first time to stand by a Roman cross? Making themselves unclean—possibly being splattered by the criminal’s blood—was anathema to them. Here, this day, they joked among themselves and with the teachers of the law, no doubt laughing aloud at their seeming success. Perhaps patting one another on their backs and congratulating each other on a job well done.
They heard the taunts of common men and picked up their challenge: “Save yourself! You saved others . . . why can’t you do it now?” They thought he could not. That was their first mistake. Their second was about themselves: “If you come down, we will see and believe!” (See Matthew 27:39-43.) Believe? Had they no opportunities to believe? Had they no face-to-face teaching from the master? Had they not seen his power . . . and simply attributed it to the devil? Believe?
Many stand at the cross and take up the taunts of others there. “How silly! How foolish,” they decide. They refuse to investigate God’s plan of redemption. They give Jesus a cursory glance . . . and laugh! “Some kind of God . . . he did not even save himself! Why should I trust him to save me?”
We stand at the cross . . . and believe. We believe he died for us rather than save himself from the humiliation, the agony, the death he chose for himself. “Come down from the cross”? Our cry must be, “Thank you, Lord, for not coming down. Thank you, Lord, for coming out of the tomb!” Here . . . at his table, we stand to say, “Yes, Lord, thank you!”
Ron Davis loves “standing at the cross” reverently and thankfully each week at the Lord’s table of grace and sensing God’s love.