August 17, Friday

Bronzino‘s depiction of the crucifixion with three nails, no ropes, and a hypopodium standing support, c. 1545.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he is the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross and we will believe him.

Matthew 27:42.

With these words the high priests, scribes and elders in Jerusalem mocked Jesus Christ, the crucified One. Were the physical pains He suffered on the cross not sufficient, so that they offended Him even further with their contemptible insults? They did not utter lies, but the truth. What they said they had observed in His life.

“He saved others.” His enemies admitted this! How many sick persons had the Lord helped! How many had He freed from Satan’s power! To how many souls laden with guilt had He given rest and peace! And now? 

He was hanging on the cross apparently helpless and in terrible torment. And His enemies challenged Him with blasphemous words: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” (v.40). He should now prove that He was the One He claimed to be.  “Himself he cannot save,” was their derisive judgment.

But they were wrong. did they really believe that Jesus did not have the power to come down from the cross? It was not a case of “cannot”, but rather of “would not”. The work of redemption had to be fulfilled. Because God loves the sinner and wishes to grant him salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ remained silent. That was His reply to those who mocked Him.

Lord Jesus, You bore the contempt, the mockery and the blasphemy and did not come down from the cross. You underwent the sufferings of the cross to bring us salvation. How grateful we are!

Image: By Bronzino – Œuvre appartenant au Musée des beaux-arts de Nice, Public Domain,