Summary: How the Sanhedrin unknowingly but truthfully said, "he saved others, but he can’t save himself."
March 10, 2004 Matthew 27:41-44
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Paul once told the Corinthians that no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Co 1:20) First of all, our God is a God who loves promising us things. He loves to encourage our faith and hope in life by promising us eternal life and salvation. But every promise comes at a cost. In the children’s story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the mayor of the city promised the piper 1,000 pieces of gold to deliver the city from a plague of rats. But then when the Piper had delivered his side of the bargain, the mayor didn’t want to give him a thousand pieces of gold, but only fifty. God is different. Not only does He love to promise us things, but He loves it even more when He can make good on his promises. As Paul told the Corinthians, His promises are all made complete in Christ. So when we come to Him through faith in Christ - He loves saying “yes.” Not only CAN He, but He even wants to do things for us, and He can’t wait to do even more than we ask for. This is evident when you think of the story of Ahaz and Isaiah. Isaiah promised a victory and then he said, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
(Is 7:11) He wanted to do anything Ahaz asked for to show him that He would make good on His promise.
We can understand this in earthly terms, when we look at the relationship between a child and a parent. Sometimes I get home from work and I am already drained. But when I get home, it seems my children have just drunk three liters of Pepsi and are jumping off the walls. They say, “dad, can we play catch? Let’s play monster!” It’s not that I don’t love them, it’s just that I don’t have the energy. Sometimes we just have to say no, and we don’t like it. This is true of adults working with adults also. Maybe a friend needs a favor - you want to help - but you just don’t have the time. You hate to say it, but you have to admit, “I can’t.”
God never has to say that. He never runs out of energy. He never is given too much to do. But in the text for today, that’s what the Sanhedrin were telling God. They said to Jesus, “he saved others, but he CAN’T save Himself.” What did they mean by this? How would Jesus react? Today we’ll find out that the Sanhedrin was inadvertently -
Speaking the Humble Truth
I. The first truth - he saved others.
He saved others. That’s the truth. That’s what the Sanhedrin admitted. They couldn’t deny it. They’d seen Lazarus walking and talking. Everyone knew he was dead. Jesus saved him - there was no doubt about it. They had also seen the blind given sight, demons come screeching out of people, and many other miracles. There was no denying it. So the Sanhedrin said to Jesus - “ “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
Do you see what their system of faith was based on? They said they would believe in Jesus if He displayed the kind of power that they were looking for. Their system of religion was based on power and politics. The Sanhedrin used an army to enforce their faith. They were heavily involved with Herod and Pilate in the way they ruled the Jews. So they wanted the same out of their Messiah. This is partially based on the Scriptures as well. The Old Testament Scriptures talked about the power of the coming Messiah.
I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. (Jeremiah 23:5)
Many of the Old Testament Scriptures talked about a King who would come and establish peace in the land - ruling over Israel and giving it protection. So their concept of the Messiah was limited to that of the powerful King. In keeping with this promise of power, they told Jesus that if He performed this one miracle then they would believe.