Summary: Looking at those who shouted at Christ while He was on the cross, this sermon explores how their demands would have led Christ directly away from doing God's will. How often does the advice the world gives us every day do the same thing?
ADVICE FROM THE CROWD: “Good advice” from the world can divert you from God’s will for your life.
- While Jesus is on the cross, the crowd throws several suggestions His way. When you dig into them a little, it’s interesting to see how deeply counterproductive they are. There are four – one in each verse here:
a. Verse 29.
- They insult and mock Jesus because He said that He was going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days (John 2:19-21). In the original conversation, they presume Jesus is referring to the physical Temple and so they mock Him, noting that it took over forty years to build that structure. Of course, they were misinterpreting Jesus’ words – He was referring to the temple of His body, not the physical structure in Jerusalem.
- That makes their comment here strikingly ironic. They call for Jesus to come down from the cross (v. 30) if He really is someone who can rebuild the temple in three days. The amazing thing about that is that Jesus is actively doing the very thing He promised in that moment. On the cross, the body of His temple is being destroyed, which is the first step that will end in His resurrection after three days. Jesus is doing the very thing they are complaining about!
b. Verse 30.
- They complete their thought by calling Him to come down from the cross and save Himself. It is certainly true that Jesus could have come down from the cross and saved Himself. But not if He was to fulfill His mission.
- Jesus stated in John 10:14-15 that He is the Good Shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for His sheep. They call on Him to do something that would divert Him from the very mission that He was sent to complete.
c. Verse 31.
- Continuing with that thought, v. 31 finds the chief priests and teachers of the law mocking Him. They shout at Him that He saved others but He can’t save Himself.
- Again, this is ironic because it goes directly to His mission. They are right in one sense: here Jesus has a choice between saving Himself and saving others. He can’t save Himself specifically because He is saving others! They presume He is dying because of His powerlessness. In fact, it’s because of His love for us.
d. Verse 32.
- Finally, in v. 32 the religious leaders continue by telling Jesus to come down from the cross and then they’ll believe. As we’ve discussed, the very reason to believe in Him is because He is on the cross. This verse, though, adds to word “Christ” to the equation. They’ll believe He is the Christ if He comes down from the cross. He is the Christ because He is up on the cross!
- Throughout these verses, we find their demands pointing in the opposite direction to the will of God. They are so out of touch with God that they are asking for the very things that will keep His will from happening. And they are oblivious to their cluelessness.
- What does this teach us? It’s a stark reminder to us that our spiritual path cannot be one where we take an opinion poll to determine our direction.
- A bad way to live your life is to look around, see what everyone else is doing, and copy that. Doing what everyone else suggests can stand directly in the way of doing God’s will in your life.
- Their advice is not merely insulting or mocking, it’s also obstructionist. They are proposing ideas that will stand in the way of doing God’s will.
- When has this been true in my life? A few of the more prominent situations:
a. Our decision to foster.
b. Paying the tax bill.
c. Raising our kids – that’s not how other parents do it.
WHY WE SOMETIMES MISS THAT: The gospel is a lot more than just “be nice.”
- The gospel does not tie into conventional wisdom. Jesus’ way is radically different.
- When have we heard someone say of one of our decisions:
a. “Why would you do that?”
b. “That doesn’t make sense.”
c. “I could never do that.”
d. “Where did that come from?”
- If no one ever questions our decisions, perhaps we are living too much in line with what the world thinks.
- We sometimes ponder whether we’d be willing to die for our faith. That’s certainly a valid question, but there are more mundane ones that matter as well. Am I willing to be mocked for my faith? Am I willing to be misunderstood for my faith?
- I remember working at a bank while I was in seminary. One evening when there were no customers, my co-workers and I got into a conversation about premarital sex. I stated that we had waited until we got married. She laughed at me. “No one does that anymore,” she laughed. That didn’t change the fact that it was the right decision.