April is here, and with it comes more and more evidences that Spring has sprung and that Easter is not far away. With Easter approaching I was reminded of an experience I had on Good Friday morning several years ago. As I awoke that morning my mind was on the events which had occurred roughly 2000 years earlier. When I sat down for my morning devotion, I decided to read through the biblical account of the Easter narrative. I wanted to be reminded afresh of every detail regarding all that Jesus had experienced on my behalf on that day which for Him was anything but good.
The prayer of my heart going into the reading was that the Holy Spirit would break through my familiarity with the story so that there would be a new insight that would inspire me over the Easter weekend and even longer. My prayer was answered when I read these words from Matthew 27:41-42 in the Contemporary English Version: "The chief priests, the leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said, "He saved others, but he can't save himself. If he is the king of Israel, he should come down from the cross! Then we will believe in him."
"Then we will believe in him." Let's pretend for just a moment that the religious leaders were being serious when they said those words. Had they been, especially in the midst of His extreme physical exhaustion, surely those words of promised belief would have been music to Jesus' ears. After all, was that not what He had hoped would happen as a result of His three years of ministry among them? Was that not the reason He'd done all those miracles, shared all those difficult to understand teachings, told all those parables, and made all those applications to real life? Wasn't that the reason He'd confronted them with their hypocrisies? Wasn’t it in hopes that somehow, some way, some day they would confess their sins, repent of them, and come to believe in Him?
And now instead of Him having to die on that cross, they were telling Him that to secure their belief, all He would have to do would be to summons enough superhuman strength to rip away from the nails in His hands and feet and climb or jump down from the cross. Doing so would prove Him to be the King of Israel and thus worthy of being followed all the way to victory over the Roman authorities.
But Jesus chose not to come down. Why? Because Jesus knew that those religious leaders, and every other person for that matter, did not need a Superhero. They didn't need someone who was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings. They needed a Savior—a Redeemer capable of forgiving their sins. They needed a Resurrected One—capable of giving them eternal life because He Himself possessed power over death. He was that One, and only by dying could He make it all happen.
Jesus knew that the only true belief that could possibly save those religious leaders would be their belief in His death, His burial, and His soon coming resurrection. So He ignored their insincere promise to believe in Him, stayed on that cross, and died the most horrific death ever. He did it for them, but just as importantly, He did it for us.