Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: “The King of the Jews.” With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him. (Mark 15:25-32)
He Did Not Save Himself
The scene at Golgotha was very chaotic. Three men had been condemned to die for their crimes and the crowd was in a frenzy of curiosity. This crucifixion was unlike any other as crowds of people swarmed below the three doomed men. Religious leaders taunted and ridiculed the criminal in the center of the controversy with jeers, derisions and pleas to confess his crimes. The two robbers who were crucified also hurled insults upon their fellow charge. Laughter ringed the crowd as nobles in religious garbs made sport of the popular teacher who now hung bleeding on a cross. The name of Jesus was blasphemed by those who walked by. Heads wagged in contempt for the failure of the man from Nazareth to do some miracle or show power by coming down from the cross. The palpable tension of voices elevated the scene to an incredible level of hysteria.
Through all the noise of the crowds, soldiers and followers of Jesus, the Son of God quietly began to die. He was blasphemed but He did not revile in return. They scorned Him to save Himself but He did nothing. The chief priest and scribes laughed at Him for saving others but not being able to save Himself. It was an admission of the power of Jesus in His miracles but now on a cross He had no power to save His own life. They taunted Him to come down from the cross and they would believe. Let Jesus save Himself and everyone would bow the knee.
The glory of the cross is found in the words of those who condemned Him, jeered Him and mocked Him. Little did they realize that what they were saying was the proof He was the Son of God. Jesus had earlier spoken about rebuilding the temple in three days but they assumed He spoke of the literal temple in Jerusalem. Their ears were closed to understand the truth of Jesus teaching and failed to see what would be raised in three days was the body they mocked on a cross. They cried out for Jesus to save Himself – not knowing that what He was doing was saving them. Jesus did not need to save Himself because He had destroyed the curse of the Law by living sinless. Those who mocked him were filled with sin. The one on the cross had no sin.
Jesus could not come down from the cross because the will of the Father demanded He die on the cross. The power of twelve legions of angels was at the disposal of the Son of God but He remained on the cross to save those who wagged their heads at Him. Jesus did save many people in His short ministry and it was true He could not save Himself but that was because if He came down from the cross all men would be eternally lost. Staying on the cross condemned Him to die but it brought eternal life to the world. They begged Him to come down from the cross and they would believe. Dying on a cross was not a miracle. Remaining on the cross would usher the advent of the greatest miracle on the first day of the week when Jesus rose from the dead. He had to stay on the cross so He could bring the hope of the resurrection to all men.
Jesus brought salvation by staying on the cross. His death sealed the horror of sin and destroyed the sting of death. Jesus did not come to save Himself. The Son of God came to save me and He came to save you. He died so that all men could live. He suffered to take away the sorrow of this world. His death gave hope to a hopeless world. Thankfully, He did not save Himself. He saved you and me.
The marks of the cross are simply the marks of our identification with our Lord, death to our own plans and purposes, death to our own right to our lives, that He might have His way with us and ours. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)