He Cannot Save Himself

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Reading the Word

Matthew 27:33–44 (ESV)

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Parallel Texts: Mark 15:22-32; Luke 23:33-38

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus hung on the cross, the mocking and verbal abuse continued. The religious leaders were offended that Pilate had placed a sign above Jesus that read “King of the Jews.” However, Pilate would not remove or change it. Instead, many made fun of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah by telling him to “come down from the cross” with a promise to believe if he did so.

The religious leaders mocked because they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God. But they were wrong. Jesus was who he claimed to be. He could not come down from the cross because his death was needed to bring salvation to the world. However, in just a couple of days, he was going to do something greater than coming down from the cross. Jesus was going to rise from the grave. Yet, even with the miracle of the resurrection, many would refuse to believe.

Jesus made many grand claims while he was on this earth. He claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God. Such claims are difficult to believe, but the resurrection is the evidence of the truth of his claims. However, even with this evidence, many continue to reject Jesus. Why? Because if he is who he claimed to be, then our lives can never be the same. Our sin must be dealt with. We must repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness.

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