Jesus had stayed silent as he was before Pilate and Herod. Even as he had been before the Sannhedrin, he had said very little in his defense. Jesus already knew God’s plan and had been telling his disciples that he would be handed over to the chief priests and the rulers to be killed, but would then rise again from the dead.
The chief priest, Pilate, and Herod all would have expected that Jesus would want to save himself. Who would despise their life enough that they would want to die, especially when they are innocent of the charges of which they have been accused? But this process of accusation to “trial” to condemnation and death was moving quickly, and so Jesus was simply letting the metaphorical train run down the tracks. He already knew that he was headed to his death, so he was allowing the process to play out.
The people, as they stood before Jesus as he was being crucified, called on Jesus to prove that he was the Messiah by saving himself.
The soldiers, the same thing.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”Luke 23:35-39
Ironically, Jesus was the Messiah and he was acting perfectly in accordance with what had been prophecied for him to do. He was the King of the Jews, but this King was to give himself for the people so that they could live.
The people couldn’t imagine a scenario in which Jesus would want to die. They couldn’t even begin to imagine what Jesus was doing. He was giving himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the people – for them. And yet they were mocking him.
If you are the Messiah, save yourself!
Jesus was the Messiah, and instead of saving himself, he was saving them. He was saving them from their sins, if only they would believe. Now, we have the same choice. Will we believe that Jesus has also come for us? That he has done this according to God’s plan? That he was the Messiah, and precisely for that reason he was killed on the cross, taking the punishment for our sins?
Or will we continue to deny him and imagine that the greatest and highest thing that we could experience would be to save our lives?