Deuteronomy 32-34 Mark 15:26 – 47
“If he is really the Christ, the king of Israel, let him come down now from the cross. When we see this, we will believe in him.” The robbers who were being crucified beside Jesus also insulted him.” (Mark 15:32 NCV)
The Jewish leaders had their victory. Not only was the would-be Messiah being crucified between two thieves, the people had turned against Him. They may have savored the taunts of passerbys who noted that He had said He would destroy the Temple, but now couldn’t come down from the cross. Even the thieves, who were suffering the same punishment as Jesus insulted Him. The leaders made a “magnanimous concession” though: if Jesus came down from the cross, then they’d believe in Him. They probably had a good laugh when one of them said it and the rest of them echoed the sentiment.
What does it take for some people to believe? I wonder sometimes. Many of the Jews believed in Jesus because of His words. Many rejected them. Many looked at the miracles of Jesus and believed: the healings and the feedings of the multitudes got their attention. Others accused Him of being in league with Satan. At the cross, many offered to believe if only Jesus would come down from the cross, not realizing that He came to earth to die for the sins of all people. When He didn’t come down, their opinion of Jesus as a fraud was confirmed. If you gave these leaders the benefit of the doubt, you might say that all of this unbelief could be understood – except for the resurrection. Jesus may not have come down from the cross, but we know that He overcame the grave – a much more difficult proposition. We might be able to cut the religious leaders some slack because they were so busy taking care of their pow…er…the people that they didn’t have time to check out these crazy rumors. Then we look at people in our time, who, having almost 2000 years of history that point to and depend upon the resurrection, still won’t believe. I wonder as I talk with people who reject the gospel, “what would it take for you to believe?” They won’t take the proofs of the resurrection as fact. They won’t accept God’s grace and forgiveness. Wait. I think that’s the key for most people. They don’t believe themselves worthy of God’s forgiveness. And, they’re right. No one is worthy of it. Not me, not you, not them. But God, in His great grace, offers that forgiveness to all because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Lord, remind me that even though I’m not worthy of Your forgiveness, You still love me and forgive me because of Your great grace. Help me to show Your grace to others.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.