Yesterday I used the taunts calling Jesus to come down from the cross as the basis for a Passion Sunday talk. The story is in Mark 15:29-32:
Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!” In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!” (NET Bible).
The onlookers called upon him to come down from the cross in order to save himself. The chief priests and Torah experts noted that he had saved others, but called for him to negate Pilate’s sentence and come down so that they could see and believe.
Neither party was sincere. The priests and scribes, after all, had promoted his condemnation by Pilate. Rather than seeing and believing, they would have been horrified and fearful.
But I asked why Jesus did not come down. The priests and scribes were right that he had saved others. They knew of his healings and other miracles. If he had healed the sick; miraculously fed the crowds; stilled the sea and raised the dead, then he had the power to stop the crucifixion. Or God did.
I suggested that those calling for him to come down from the cross were thinking of a display of power, like the power of a super hero. He had already demonstrated power in his healings and other acts. But the purpose of the cross was not to demonstrate power.
The purpose of the cross was to demonstrate the love of God. I quoted Romans 5:8 on this.
I talked about how Passion Sunday pointed to the demonstration of God’s passion for all people. Jesus’ crucifixion revealed God’s character as not aloof from the human plight. If he had come down from the cross in an act of power, it would have been a one-time thing, not a disclosure of the heart of God.
I hope my readers have a blessed Holy Week.