[Radio Broadcast Thursday, April 13, 2017]
"And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matthew 27:40).
Many times we think that no one is listening. From the boy in the Sunday School class, who seems so distracted gazing at the spider climbing up the wall, to the man in the pew, who is half asleep, we all wonder is anything sinking in. A poll once announced that people only take in about seven percent of what they hear orally.
This text, where people called for the Lord to come down from the cross, does show that a number of truths about the Lord Jesus did sink in. Mockery and jest are terrible weapons of spite and hate, but they also reveal insights into what people heard and thought about the life and ministry of the Saviour. In the statement, "Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself," we see that certain things taught by the Lord had sunk into these wicked hearts. There was not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of repentance. They were still in love with self and hated the One who called them to forsake their self-righteousness.
The second wicked statement of these hard-hearted souls was this, "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." What! In quizzical jest they called Him the Son of God. The reality of that had hit them and smitten their consciences. Now they thought they had a way to salve their consciences in a perverted kind of way. In their carnal reasoning, they made it as simple as, "Show us your divine power by releasing yourself from the cross." They were saying, "Rise up, Man." Take this into your control, otherwise, don't tell us you are the Son of God."
They were playing to the basest of reasoning and were flying in face of redeeming love. The truth, as we know, is that Jesus was God, and He could well have come down from the cross any moment He chose, but He chose to remain there to suffer pain to fulfil the work of redeemer to His people. It was His redeeming love that kept Him there to bleed and die. It was not weakness, nor the nails that fastened him to the gibbet. Not even Roman guards or spears kept him there. It was the covenant He had with the Father to fulfil all things for our redemption that kept Him there. He must suffer and die. He would indeed raise up his bodily temple again, but first, he must lay it down by His voluntary sufferings. On the resurrection morning, the Lord would declare to the God-hating world that He was indeed the Son of God with power.
Those who rejoice in salvation through the death of Christ will never choose to mock His work on the cross. We love our Lord Jesus too much and we love the cross on which He suffered through those long hours of agony due to our sin too much to mock it. Through His death, we live. By Jesus one death and one final sacrifice, God is eternally satisfied. We have total remission of all sins through faith in the blood of Jesus. Now we say, "Lord Jesus, you are the Son of God and you did come down from the cross, but not till you paid all the debt for me. You cleaved to that cross to save me and now I cleave to you as my precious Saviour. Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul."
Thank you, Lord, for Saving my Soul
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and so free.