"Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers..."
From "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" by Stuart Townend
Passersby, possibly travelers on the road to Jerusalem, heaped insults on Jesus; the original language literally says they were speaking “blasphemy.” They were blaspheming the One who had just been condemned for blasphemy.
And the verb here for blasphemy is continuous; over and over they did it, over and over they were calling him names. They kept shaking their heads and blaspheming him, not content with letting a tortured man die in peace. Their taunts recall the trials. Jesus had been accused of threatening to tear down the temple, accused of blasphemy, or so they said. And they were right; the “Temple” he was talking about, his own body, is being torn down before their very eyes. It is blasphemy.
They pressure him to prove himself. If you are the Son of God, come down, and we’ve heard that before: once from the devil when he’s tempting Jesus in the desert. Once from Peter when he sees the image of his Master walking on water and tries to decide if Jesus is ghost or God.
If you are the Son of God, they say, you can come down, can’t you?
This has been called the “last great temptation” of Jesus. He was the Son of God. He could, indeed, come down. Would he?
It reminds us of the most profound temptation; they’re asking Jesus to prove his very identity as Son of God. We see this in that little word again: IF. If you really are the Son of God, if you’re really who you say you are...you’d do well to save yourself.
The Religious Elites add their voices now and step up to the plate with the mockers.
You saved others, Jesus. Why can’t you save yourself?
They promise that if he does what they want him to do - if he saves himself - they’ll finally believe. But we who know the end of the tale don’t believe them for a second.
Jesus does not give in. He knows that it is because he is God’s Son, because he is the only one who can endure it, who can withstand the pain of this kind of agony, that he must stay on the cross.
Make no mistake. He could have leapt down. He could have proven himself, shown them what the Son of God could really do, rebuked them for questioning his majesty and authority. He could have commanded twelve legions of angels to attend to him. He could have turned stones into bread, could have forsaken the cross and his people and his Father, could have claimed all the kingdoms of all the world and all their splendor, if only he had decided to save himself.
It's just that in the end, it really wasn't himself that he'd be interested in saving. And so he stayed on the cross.
Pastor Brynn Harrington
How have you seen your identity as God's child tested by mockers and scoffers? When others tease you, tempt you, or pressure you to be a certain way, what are you tempted to believe about yourself and about God? What does it mean to you today that Christ endured the mockers and scoffers on your behalf?
Today is Maundy Thursday. Maundy comes from the Latin word “Mandatum,” which is where we get the English word “mandate” (among others). Today celebrates the Giving of the New Commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Pray specifically for the people of Highrock who you have had a meaningful connection with this past year. Express to the Lord what they mean to you, how much you love them and why. What is one way that you can demonstrate your love to them this week in a way that reflects how Christ has loved you?
Join us for a Maundy Thursday dinner tonight!