“If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” – Matthew 27:40b I
Scripture reading: Matthew 27:32-41
Recording little of the physical horror of crucifixion, Matthew emphasizes the rejection of Jesus. He is rejected here by everyone: soldiers and spectators, clerics and criminals. The soldiers were reputed for the violence, the criminals for their crimes, and the spectators were especially vulnerable to mob pressure and herd mentality.
What especially shocks us is the participation of the clerics (v.41), “So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him.” This demographic, claiming to know the Word of God, can’t recognize the Son of God. They taunt Him by promising faith, if He comes down from the cross (v.42b): “He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him.”
Could Jesus save Himself? At some level, He obviously could. With armies of angels at His disposal, He had the power to extricate Himself from the cross and it would have been spectacular if He did. At another level, Jesus could not. He was internally constrained, by the will of the Father and by the love of sinners, to remain on the cross.
In the end, we must say two things. If Jesus did save Himself, He could not save us and if Jesus did not save Himself, He could save us. Today let’s thank God that Jesus stayed on the cross for us and let’s praise Jesus for His love for us that so compelled Him.
Suggestions for prayer
Praise Jesus that His love for us, while He was dying, was undying.
Dr. Bill DeJong is the lead pastor of Blessings Christian church in Hamilton, ON and adjunct professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer University in Ancaster, ON. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.