Day 40 - He WOULD NOT save himself

Day 40 - He WOULD NOT save himself

Written by: Wendy Alligood

Matthew 27:33-50, 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. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

In verse 34 Jesus is offered and tasted some wine, but He would not drink it. Have you ever wondered why? From it’s bitter taste, Jesus knew that it had been drugged. Crucifixion victims were often given a painkiller or poison to ease their suffering or to help them on their way. Jesus did not want either. He knew He needed to feel the pain, to suffer, and to willingly give His life.

Verses 35 and 36 may be the saddest in this passage. The Roman guards crucified Jesus without really noticing Him. They had crucified many others and this was just another day, another Jew, and another job. They thought of themselves as they cast lots for His garments and sat down to watch, but they didn’t really see what was happening right in front of them. What do you see when you look at the cross? “We too may look at it without emotion, without faith or any consciousness of what it may mean for us. Only they who see there the sacrifice for their sins and the world’s, see what is there” (MacLaren). If you feel nothing when you think of the cross, examine yourself to see if you are truly saved. A Christian should not be able to imagine the cross without strong emotion.

Jesus was mocked by passersby and bystanders in verses 40, 47 and 50. Some of these people may have been the same ones who cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” just a week earlier as recounted in Matthew 21:9. Have you ever wondered what made them change?  The fact is, they weren't changed at all, and that was the problem. The people in the crowd saw Jesus, but like the soldiers at His crucifixion, they had not allowed Jesus to change them. They saw Him but they didn’t know Him. Their encounters with Jesus weren’t personal. Have you been changed by having a personal encounter with Jesus? Many in the crowd were just going along with the crowd and saying whatever those in the crowd were saying. George Carlin once said, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” We have all seen this “mob mentality” on the news. This often results in violence with property destroyed or innocent people beaten or even killed. It is very dangerous to just go along with the crowd. “Let us take care that our worship of Him is rooted in our own personal experience, and independent of what rulers or influential minds today say of Him” (MacLaren). Are you truly worshipping from your heart or are you just going along with the crowd at church, or your friends, or your parents? Salvation must be personal.

Verse 42a says, “He saved others. He cannot save hImself.” If we read this as “He saved others but He WILL NOT save Himself, we understand the central truth of the gospel” (MacLaren). Jesus could have come down from the cross, but He chose to die. He chose to take the punishment for our sins. He chose to be separated from His Father. He chose to feel the agony of crucifixion and to endure the mocking.  He chose to fulfill His Father’s plan to redeem His creation and restore mankind’s relationship with the Creator. We too must make a choice. What have you chosen? Have you chosen to believe Jesus is who He says He is? Have you accepted His gift of forgiveness? Even doing nothing is a choice.

Reread the account of the crucifixion above or perhaps in one of the other gospels: Luke 23:26-43, Mark 15:21-41, John 19:17-37. Search your heart to see what you are feeling. Has Jesus’ death on the cross changed you?

Consider watching the movie The Passion of the Christ which is free on several streaming services right now. 

If you find that you are like the soldiers and some in the crowd who saw Jesus but had never been changed, I have great news for you! Jesus has been waiting for you to come to Him and say you know you are a sinner and that you accept that He died on the cross to take the penalty for those sins. Your prayer can be something like this:
Jesus, I have known about you, but I realize now that I have never really known You. I have never allowed the truth that you died on the cross to take the penalty for my sins to change me. I am sorry for my sins. I do believe. Thank you for your sacrifice. Amen.
If you have that conversation with Jesus today, welcome to the family of God! Please also speak to someone on our staff who can give you some information about being a new Christian!
If the thought of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has meaning to you, thank Him for His sacrifice. Your prayer could be something like this:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being willing to die on the cross. Thank you for refusing the bitter wine which might have given You a measure of comfort. Thank You for paying the penalty for my sins. I pray that I will always worship You from my heart and because of my personal relationship with You, that I would not simply go through the motions or follow the crowd. I know You could have saved yourself, but it would have meant mankind would have remained lost. Thank you for Your sacrifice which allows me to have a relationship with God and to go to heaven when I die. Amen.