“So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” Mark 15:31
They just didn’t get it…Jesus was up there for them. It wasn’t that He couldn’t save Himself in that moment. It was that He chose to save us instead.
He endured it all—scorn, shame, torture, an unbelievably horrific death—so that the curtain would be torn in two. So that there was no longer a chasm separating us from God. So that we no longer had to try in vain to get to Him ourselves. God came to us to make a way, and He lives today as our direct connection to the throne of heaven.
No longer do we have to live in fear and uncertainty, not knowing what God thinks of us or whether or not we’ve been good enough. No longer do we have to go through someone else to get to God, to have our prayers heard or our sins forgiven. We have Christ. And in Him, God draws near and pours His very Spirit into our hearts. Any barriers are torn down, like the curtain in the temple that separated us from the Most Holy Place. We can now come to Him in confident, humble faith.
This is why Jesus didn’t come down from the cross that day. This is why He went through everything. So that we could know Him. So that we could know the depths and riches of mercy and grace, and live in victory with Him each day. Because it isn’t even just that our debt has been paid. It’s that our Savior lives and gives us all we need for life and godliness. He lives so that we can abide in Him and know fullness of joy and true freedom forever. He came that we may have life, and have it abundantly. If Jesus had chosen to save Himself that day…we wouldn’t have a chance.
A few verses before this, in verse 23, Mark notes that Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh but He refused it. That mixture would have offered at least some relief from the pain. It would have numbed it all somewhat. Yet He did not accept it. To me, this speaks so greatly of how committed He was to this. He had already been mocked and tortured in ways likely far greater than anything we will ever face. The night before, knowing what was about to unfold, He was so agonized at the mere thought that “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground” as He prayed fervently to His Father, seeking deliverance if there was any other course of our salvation (Luke 22:44). But there wasn’t. This was it. And Jesus didn’t do things halfway. He didn’t go into this with hesitancy or question. He was resolved. Resolved to save us. Resolved to take on the full punishment for every sin. Resolved to have the wrath of God poured out upon Him so that we would only know His love and grace. Jesus wasn’t going to be numb for this. Even in the middle of everything, when He could have faltered and given in to the temptation of not having to feel every sensation of the thorns piercing into His head from the “crown” they pounded into Him and each nerve hit as they hammered nails into His hands and feet, the immense pain from the lashes that had ripped into His back when they scourged Him. All of this was intentionally taken in entirety with no rest or relief.
What amazing love is this. To choose this death. To choose it all. Jesus could have saved Himself. At any given moment, He could have stopped what was happening. Yet He chose to die to save us.
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be counted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…and were by nature children of wrath…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him…so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:1-7