Summary: how Jesus met the true challenge to be the Son of God on God’s terms - not man’s
The Revelation of the Son of God
Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
41 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.
45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, a lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” b
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son c of God!”
Everyone loves a challenge. It’s kind of like a dare that kids play - “I dare you to . . . I double dog dare you!” And it’s that kind of language that has become common within Christian churches today. “I challenge you to turn your life over to Christ! Give your life to Jesus right now! I challenge you to raise your giving! I challenge you to change your family life!”
Jesus also was issued a challenge in today’s text. “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Those who passed by said it. The chief priests and elders said it. Even the robberS said it. Both of them at first! IF you are the Son of God - that you claim to be - PROVE IT! Very similar to the challenge, they wanted Jesus to reveal who he was by a miraculous salvation of his own life. So today we’ll see how Jesus answered that challenge, with His own -
Revelation of the Son of God
I. Satan’s version of what the Son of God should do
When you hear someone “challenge you” to do something, what is it that motivates you to do it? A part of it is your ego, isn’t it? I’m going to prove to them that I CAN do it. It’s a prevalent thought in the highly scientific and man centered world that we live in - that nothing is impossible for you IF you put your MIND to it.
In the realm of today’s Christian world, however - the motivation seems to be more God centered. While I was writing this sermon, I had a young Baptist lady call me to get our youth group to come to an “Acquire the Fire” rally in Kansas City. When she said they would, “challenge the young people to read their Bibles more, pray more, and come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” I asked her about that term, “challenge.” She said that it was not “me” centered or ego centered, but God centered. Challenge kids to do it because God tells them to. “I can be a good father! I can be a faithful wife! I can give my first fruits!”
It was this same system that the chief priests, the criminals and the people passing by tried on Jesus. They challenged him to come down from the cross. Why? To prove he was the Son of God. You see, their vision of the Son of God was based on power - on passages like Isaiah 9:7 which said, He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. Their idea of a king would be one who would save THEM from their tyranny under Herod and the Romans and establish a PHYSICAL kingdom and overpower the Romans. If Jesus really wanted to be the Son of God - then he would have to meet up to THEIR expectations of what he should do. The LEAST he would have to do was first of all to SAVE HIMSELF! If they did this, then they said, we will believe in him.