It hurts me to see how the people mocked Jesus. This is the same Jesus who healed many and performed miracles. The same Jesus who taught about the kingdom of God and God’s love and grace. Yet there as He hung on the cross, bearing the sins of the world, they mocked Him.
Luke gives us the whole sordid story. He mentioned that the people looked on and even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”
The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” It amazes me that this man wants Jesus to save him even though he is blaspheming Him and is guilty of the crime or crimes he is being crucified for. This reminds me of people who feel that they can live anyway they please and still expect to be saved. This is abusing God’s grace.
But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” This thief, unlike the other one, recognized his need for a Savior. He acknowledged his guilt and repented and asked for Jesus’ pardon–His grace which Jesus was happy to give. He said to the man, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” This man feared God and recognized that Jesus was innocent.
What a contrast between this thief and the Jewish rulers (priests) who were mocking Jesus. They were no different from the Gentiles they looked down upon. Matthew went into more details of the things that were being said to Jesus. Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (Matthew 27:41-43). They think they are mocking Jesus but they are mocking God too. It’s as if they are saying, “Look at Him now. He trusted in God. Well, let’s see if God will save Him now. He said He was the Son of God. Let’s see if that will help Him now.”
Their words are so similar to the Devil’s when he was trying to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. He kept saying, “If you are the Son of God…” Jesus refused to disobey God just to prove who He was then and He refused to do so here at the cross. What these people failed to realize is that Jesus willingly laid down His life. He was on the cross because it was His Father’s will and He wanted to do His Father’s will. Jesus did not save Himself for our sake. He stayed on that cross until it was finished. He undid the work of the Devil.
If Jesus wanted to, He could have foiled His enemies’ plan when they arrested Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. After Peter struck at a servant with his sword, cutting off his ear, Jesus told him “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:52-54). Jesus stayed on that cross to fulfill the Word. He fulfilled His purpose. He was the sacrificial Lamb who came to take away the sins of the world.
By His words and actions Jesus proved that He was indeed the Son of God and by their words and actions, the chief priests, scribes and elders proved that they were children of the Devil. They were not of God. By His fruits–love, forgiveness, compassion, obedience, honesty, Jesus showed that He was of God. By their fruits, unforgiveness, envy, treachery, dishonesty, disobedience, hypocrisy, the chief priests, scribes and elders showed that they were not of God.