“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ ” Mark 15:29-32
Perhaps the hardest thing about being a Christian is living up to the call to put the needs of others on an equal priority of our own needs and ahead of our wants.
It’s easy to not eat pork and seafood when you don’t want to. It’s easy to abstain from alcohol and tobacco and drugs if you don’t want to. It’s easy to attend church on sabbath and participate in worship when that’s what you want to do. It’s easy to be loving toward your parents, respectful toward your neighbors and their property, and honest in your dealings when that’s what you want to do.
Jesus, however, calls us to think like him, and to be like him, in the way we think about and treat others. And it’s not just the godly and deserving that he’s thinking about when he says this.
There’s no better example of this Christlike attitude that the scene described in our focus text. Jesus, after a night and a day of mental and physical abuse had been deemed worthy of death by crucifixion. He’d been driven through the streets of Jerusalem and nailed to a cross. He’s now suffering intense pain and fighting for every breathe and around him are the Jewish leaders who condemned him, and others that are passing by, mocking him and saying, “He saved others but he can’t save himself.”
And they were right. He couldn’t save us and save himself from the humiliation and the cruelty. He could save himself OR he could save us. He couldn’t do both. And the majority of us chose to mock him for it while those who loved him, in the confusion of their misunderstanding and unbelief, chose to mourn him for it.
The book of Revelation tells us that the hosts of heaven choose to praise and honor Christ more highly because he chose our needs over his own. We deserved death and we needed a Savior. And he chose us over himself and became our Savior, our substitute, and took our punishment for us.
The angels know greatness when they see it. One thief, on a cross next to Jesus, recognized it but the rest of the sinful crowd around the cross couldn’t see it. Do you see it? That’s a greatness worthy of the highest form of honor. That’s a greatness worthy of being emulated. A pattern worthy of being copied. An example that sets the standard of what being a Christian really is.
Jesus is calling us to greatness. Are we ready to become less of what we are so we can be made great like he is?