“He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God” – Luke 23:35
As Jesus hung on the cross, soldiers cast lots for His robe and the people passed by, blaspheming 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!” The chief priests and scribes jeered Him among themselves, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” (Mark 15:29-32). The soldiers mocked Him, saying that if He were the King of the Jews, He should save Himself. One of the criminals blasphemed Him, telling Him that if He were the Christ, to save Himself and them. As He hung there, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34-37).
None of those jeering at Him realized that He had fulfilled the purpose for which He came. He was not going to save Himself. He was there to save them and the world so that those who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. He became a curse for our sake. Nicodemus must have reflected on these words as He witnessed the crucifixion, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:14-17).
Jesus had to be lifted up so that all men would be drawn to Him. Just as the Israelites looked upon the serpent in the wilderness and were saved so will those who look upon Him in faith. The heavenly King to give His life a ransom for many. The rulers seem to have forgotten Caiaphas’ prophetic words, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John wrote that the high priest prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:49-52). Thus Jesus would die not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. And it was expedient that He should die. There is no remission for sin unless blood is shed. The blood of the Lamb of God had to be shed for the sins of the world. Without His death there would be no reconciliation with God for sin had separated us from Him.
Ironically, the other thief on the cross, who was also cursed because he was hanging from a tree, he realized that Jesus was innocent and undeserving of such a humiliating death. He acknowledged his own sinfulness in the face of our Lord and asked Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus promised him that day that he would be among those who were resurrected on that glorious day when Jesus would come again to gather His people to Him and take them to Heaven. That thief gave his life to the King of Kings and in return received the promise of eternal life.
Thankfully, Jesus did not come down from the cross as He was goaded into doing. Instead, He cried out, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’” and died. Even nature responded to the death of its Creator. There was darkness over the earth and the sun was darkened. The veil in the temple tore, signifying that the old sacrificial system was obselete now. “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4). Only the blood of Christ can take away our sins. He offered Himself once and for all on the cross.
Another important point that should be made is that the tearing of the veil also signified the tearing down of the partition which separated us from God. We read in Hebrews 10:19, 20, that we can boldly enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus and by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil which is His flesh. So, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are now able to boldly approach the throne of grace. In the old system, “when a sacrifice was offered for the sins of the entire congregation, the blood was taken by the priest, who represented Jesus (Hebrews 3:1), into the sanctuary and sprinkled before the veil which separated the two rooms. The presence of God dwelt on the other side of the veil” (God Drew the Plans, Amazing Facts. In the tearing of the veil, we see Jesus in His roles as our sacrificial Lamb and our High Priest. Through Him we can go directly to God and confess our sins. We don’t need an earthly intercessor. The Bible clearly teaches that there is one Mediator between God and us and that’s Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the only way to the Father because of what He did on the cross.
The King of Kings stayed on the cross until He was able to say, “It is finished.” He had accomplished what He came to do. Hebrews 10:7 states that He came to do the Father’s will. Isaiah 53:11, 12 explain what that will was: By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.” It pleased God to give His beloved Son so that the world would be saved through Him. And the Son was willing to lay down His life.
When the centurion saw the veil tear in two from top to bottom, he declared, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). Here we have a Gentile, a Roman soldier who acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God while many of the Jews rejected Him as their King and their Messiah. This centurion declared that Jesus was a righteous Man and glorified God (Luke 23:47). He believed that Jesus was the Son of God. This was a confession of faith. He was drawn to the King who was lifted up. Jesus said of Himself, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
Today, reflect on the King as He hung on the cross, cursed for our sakes so that He could redeem us. Thank God for loving you so much that He sacrificed His Son so that you could be reconciled to Him. Thank Jesus for laying down His life for you. And rejoice because the King is now in heaven sitting on the right hand of the Father.