The first 3 hours of Jesus on the cross, was passed with a great amount of chatter by those witnessing his crucifixion. In all 4 Gospels we see a picture of a great crowd mocking and laughing as they spoke about Him and to Him. Did they do this because they did not believe? This is an interesting scenario because these people testified of his words, his miracles and then requested proof by “their standards – what was acceptable to them”. And these words written of weren’t just ANY people, either.
In Mathew 27:41, the scene is set and he describes people passing by, shaking their heads, 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.” They knew the words of Jesus… which means, they were THERE or witness to a certain event that took place when Jesus spoke these very words to them as it written in all the gospels… So going back, Jesus went Into Jerusalem, into the temple courts, where he found them selling stuff in exchange for money… Where? IN THE TEMPLE COURTS – the Holy Place, where the people served God – it was corrupted with buying and selling. And so Jesus drove them out of there and turned the tables upside down and told them who were selling doves, STOP making my Father’s house a place of merchandise. (John 2:17). It’s interesting that many describe the symbolizing of a “dove” among the Israelites as the “spirit of God”… Were they selling the spirit of God to make money? And Jesus said, (Mathew 21:13), “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” So at that time, they challenged Jesus who had corrected them and said, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?”… It’s like they were saying, “why should we listen to you?… Prove to us that you have the authority to tell us we can’t make money in the temple”….They seeked a sign and Jesus simply answered with this, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. – John 2:21…
So back to the cross… Who were the people walking by wagging their heads 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.”?? Well, it would seem they were the same people that were standing in the temple courts (the Holy Place) making money off of God’s things – the ones who had AUTHORITY over the religion of the jews to do what they wanted in the temple – they were setting the rules, making the standards and MAKING A PROFIT off of God. And they probably didn’t appreciate Jesus coming on the scene, busting up their show and demanding “you stop doing this in my Father’s house.” So they were angry.. perhaps offended by Him.. or maybe they just didn’t like HIS way.. the way of selflessness and meekness…. but did they BELIEVE He was who he says He is?
In the accounts of the conversation taking place at the cross, along with those wagging their heads and mocking him, it’s identified that “Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said” – we have another description of who was leading this wolf pack of mockers who stood against Jesus. They were the leaders of the church, at that time, (if it’s OK to call it a church – it was at that time the leaders of the religious people)….. The elders… the scribes… THE CHIEF PRIESTS? And what did they have to say?….
“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.” (Mathew 27:42)
They are testifying of the signs and wonders of Jesus Christ. They saw him save people… they saw him heal people.. they saw the power of GOD in Him… yet they stand against him, mock him and STILL SEEK A SIGN. It’s like everything Jesus did that was good made them more violently seek the demise of Jesus, and so they threw a testimony with an accusation at him, basically saying, “We KNOW he saved others and did all these amazing things but if HE’S REALLY THE KING, he would save himself.” Why is that? Is a King supposed to exhalt himself?… take the gifts of God and use them for self-gain – as they were selling God for money and Jesus taught that what they were doing was wrong. The one and only true King chose to lay down his life as the ultimate gift of God… and they rebuked that example… Why is that?
Mathew 16:4, Jesus says – “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” And he left them, and departed.
What sign are we seeking?… Sometimes I wonder if we look for the evidence of Jesus Christ living in us the same way these people did – “Jesus, if you’re really who you say you are, make me rich and healthy and give me a life full of all the finer things…. EXHALT me, and then I’ll believe you”…
It seems like lately, the thing that moves me most emotionally, is reading or hearing of testimonies from others who have found Jesus, through their suffering. I can relate to that – I know HIS power to plant the good seed inside the fertile soil of a broken heart – deep into the core of everything that had to be broken into pieces and emptied of everything, in order to be filled with HIM….. Just like his flesh had to be broken… before he was raised back up… ahh, the simplicity of the truth.
There’s a song that I found recently called “Give me Faith”… The Lyrics go like this..
And break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life
And break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life
We seek knowledge… we seek self-proclaimed righteousness.. we seek control over the gifts the Lord has granted us.. and we seek to show signs of HIM through what we achieve… when the only choice that ever was and ever will be is SURRENDERING OURSELVES COMPLETELY TO HIM.
Matt Chandler said in one of his sermons I watched recently, “If this doesn’t make sense to you that’s ok.. it just means you haven’t bled enough yet.” Father thank you for the ONE who bled for us, even as we bleed too.. but because HE ROSE.. we are risen with HIM.