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After finally obtaining from Pilate their desire against Jesus, the religious leaders and those who had joined with them to prosecute Him were not yet satisfied with the punishments already inflicted and His sentence of death, but followed Him to Golgotha to see the sentence fulfilled and get in the last licks of their justice.  And so it happened that as He died they served their master, the god of this world, one last time by tempting Him through their mocking and scorn to come down from the cross and save Himself; then they would believe in Him.  But like the words of their father that was a lie, for even after He had come down from the cross, dead, and had risen from the dead, still they would not believe.  For still they were blind to the truths of God’s kingdom, believing instead the lies of the devil about the kingdoms of this world that were more appealing to them.  In this way they became a type of the many like them throughout history who falsely proclaim they would believe if only God made Himself known to them, even while repeatedly hardening their hearts through their stubborn rebellion as He has made every effort to do just that.  What does their offer to believe from their hardened hearts of unbelief teach us about why God is under no obligation to answer scoffers on their own terms, and why it is in fact a grave sin to put Him to the test by doing so?  Cf. Exo 17:2, Mat 4:7, Heb 3:7-11.

Consider the underlying belief of the religious leaders’ words that if God really took pleasure in Jesus He would have rescued Him, and since He allowed Him to die upon the cross He therefore wasn’t pleasing to Him; are we similarly guilty in believing this age-old deception that evil things don’t happen to God’s righteous people in this world, so that if they do, then such people can’t be righteous?  Note Psa 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous”.  While it is true that “the Lord delivers him out of them all”, what does the example of God’s saints throughout history teach us about how that deliverance may very well not be in this life?  Cf. 2Ti 1:8,12, 4:6-8,14-18, Heb 11:37-40.  And what does the supreme example of Jesus teach us about why we need not despair when it seems that the righteous are not delivered from evil in this life but given over to death?  Should we suppose that because God does not rescue a person the way we think He should that He has forsaken them, and therefore conclude that they in fact were not righteous, as the religious leaders did in regard to Jesus?  Cf. Gen 50:20.  Or rather, shouldn’t we consider from Jesus’ example that in spite of any public shaming to cast them as malefactors, or perhaps even our own perception of some supposed weakness or even sinfulness, it is possible that they were following Jesus in the way of the cross and possessed a greater righteousness than we perceived that made them faithful even unto death, so that God will in fact rescue them from death, just as He did Jesus, and deliver them safely into His eternal kingdom of righteousness?  What hope should this give us when facing our own cross?  Shall we suppose that if the world labels us as evildoers we must therefore be mistaken in our service to God, or if God does not answer our prayers for deliverance or rescue on our own terms that He has therefore forsaken us?  Or rather, should we not consider that perhaps like so many saints before us, He is calling us to be faithful even unto death in service to His kingdom, and His promise still stands, for though He may not rescue us from dying, He is yet able to rescue us from death?

Besides the passersby and the religious leaders and their supporters who followed Jesus to His crucifixion, who else does Luke say mocked Him as He was dying upon the cross?  See Luk 23:36-37.  Consider that the soldiers had mocked Him earlier as well (Mat 27:27-30), arraying Him with the purple robe and the crown of thorns after which He was presented to the people (Joh 19:4-5), who then kept up the theme as they followed Him to the cross.  Along with the inscription above His cross (Luk 23:38), what does this remind us about there being no doubt in anyone’s mind about why He was being put to death?  What does this also remind us about the diametrical opposition between the sort of king the world expects and the King whom God installed on Mount Zion?  See Psa 2:1-12.  Whereas the kingdoms of the world and their kings are marked by human wisdom and might, what are the marks of God’s anointed Christ and His kingdom that paradoxically is like a rod of iron that shatters the kingdoms of the world like earthenware (Psa 2:9, Dan 2:44)?  See 1Co 1:23-25, 2:3, 4:10, 15:43, 2Co 10:1, 12:9, 13:4.  Have we the faith to embrace the foolishness of the cross and its perceived weakness in order to enter into the service of the Lord’s kingdom and overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Rev 12:11)?

As the soldiers were mocking Jesus upon the cross for not saving Himself as the supposed king of the Jews, what does Luke say they were offering Him?  See Luk 23:36.  What was the significance to them of the sour wine?  Note that sour wine was the cheap, diluted, vinegar that was the common drink of the more expendable slaves and soldiers, not of kings.  What is the greater significance that Jesus was offered such wine as He was dying on the cross?  See Mat 20:22, 26:39, Joh 18:11, 19:28-30; cf. Psa 69:21, 75:8.

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