Save Yourself, and come down from the cross!
Mark 15 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “It is as you say.” 3 The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly. 4 Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!” 5 But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. 7 The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. 9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
16 The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. 17 They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; 18 and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. 20 After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.
21 They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.
22 Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it.24 And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
27 They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left.28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.
33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom wereMary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
42 When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. 45 And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.
In today’s text it says: They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.” Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let thisChrist, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. As I meditated on this I couldn’t help but to think, what if Jesus had come down from the cross? What if He had become concerned with the insults and mocking and decided to prove Himself, rather than save the world? There were other times too, that Jesus could have avoided His fate. In Matthew 26:50-54, in the account of Jesus arrest, it says: They came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” Jesus could have avoided Jerusalem all together. He knew that was where He would be crucified. Jesus could have lived on. He could have come down from the cross. Surely then many would have believed. He would have been revered for His powers. Many in the world today are obsessed with super heroes, men, women or aliens with super powers. In truth what the wolrd needs, what it needed then and still needs to day is not a heroe, but a Savior. Jesus was not concerned with His reputation or with His life itself. The cross, the instrument of His death was the reason He came to live. He did not avoid death so that we could live.
How often do we, who say we live for Christ, miss our opportunities to die for Him? In Luke 9:23, Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” We cannot physically die every day. The cross that we are to take up is not like the cross Jesus bore. He died once for all. Then He was resurrected from death. We need to die daily to self, that we can walk in the resurrection life Christ came to give us. Every day, many times a day we have opportunites to follow the perfect will of God for our lives. How often do we allow the insults and taunts of the world keep us from dying for Christ? For the sake of our reputuation, we miss the perfect will of God. How often do we direct our own path, doing what seems best, rather than following the best path God has for us? There is a funny thing about this life we live. We all will die. We can live for ourselves every day and die once for eternity. Or we can die every day for Christ and live today and forever in the power of the resurrection. The world will mock us and taunt us. Perhaps it will offer us an easier path. Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Will you take up your cross today and live abundantly for Him?
Thank You Jesus, my Lord and Savior, that You were not concerned about Your own life or reputation, but that You died so that I could live. Your forsook Your reputation in the sight of people so that my reputation in the sight of God could be restored. I choose to follow You. Holy Spirit guide me, empower me and show me every opportunity I have today to die to self that I might live with and for Christ. May I live each day to hear these words from the Father when I die: 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' In the name of Jesus I pray and in Him I live and breathe and have my being. Amen.