The Paradox of Mockery: 25 March 2015!Large.jpg

Correggio painted this picture about 1525. It shows the moment when Pilate says: ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) as he presented Christ to the people before the Crucifixion. The inclusion of the Virgin Mary fainting in the foreground is not mentioned in the Gospels and is not usually represented in this scene.

Mark 15 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!’ 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Hebrews 11 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Jesus did not play at faith the way the chief priests did. He did not say, "God, if you are really God, how about knocking these chief priests about, just to prove to them that you and I are related." No, Jesus died and somehow proved his faith not by coming down from the cross, but by staying on it. He knew that real faith cannot be confirmed by some showy spectacle, but by literally hanging on when things got tough.

This is ever the way. Crosses are not the places where faith is killed but where it is proven. Jesus went on believing that God loved him. That’s precisely the reason he would not come down. If he had come down, he could not have finished the work God had given him to do.

How fortunate that Jesus did not come down from the cross. The chief priests were right: if Jesus were going to save others, he could not save himself.  Precisely by not saving himself, he could guarantee eternal life to the world. The priests’ accusations, then, became the greatest paradox of all time. . Christ died that we might live. By not saving himself, he could save us.

Lord, I live because you chose to die. I am saved because you allowed yourself to be lost. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for not doing what the chief priests taunted you to do. Through your willingness to die on that long ago wondrous day, I am given hope.