“If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (v. 40).
Like the tempter in the wilderness of Matthew 4, those who mock Jesus at his crucifixion also challenge him to put his divinity to selfish use. The difference in the two accounts is that Satan knows that Jesus is God’s Son. The mockers who pass by Golgotha are just as certain that he is not. But we, as Matthew’s readers, know the truth: Jesus stays on the cross because he is the Son of God. That is the very reason he does not save himself (v. 42).
At various times in our lives, all of us would like God to act in a certain way. We decide what is best and wish God would make things happen as we planned. The crowd is certain that Jesus is just another messianic pretender; if Jesus had come down from the cross, they would have been amazed and terrified. They are disappointed in him because he refuses to lead a rebellion against Roman rule. The religious leaders are scared of Jesus and his followers. The last thing they want is a popular rebellion and a war with Rome. By now, they know which arguments will persuade Pilate to act as they desire.
The miracle in this scene is that Jesus refuses to perform a miracle. He demonstrates his divine nature—and his divine power—through his willingness to die. Part of our spiritual journey is learning how to trust in God’s faithfulness. We also work to grow a faith that needs no further proof of Jesus’ divinity than his death and resurrection.
How do we learn to trust that God is faithful in loving and caring for us? What can we do to “lean in” to God’s faithfulness? How can we learn to trust and believe without the necessity of a miraculous sign?
Loving God, thank you for the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Thank you for your ongoing presence in our lives. May your Spirit be powerfully present with us today. Give us strength and find us faithful, this day and every day. Amen.