Who's Your Daddy?
Matthew 27:39-43 (39) And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, (40) And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. (41) Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, (42) He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. (43) He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The title of this meditation is meant to reflect the snide attitude of the sinful men in our text. Set before us is the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the pains of the nails, stripes, thorns, thirst and gravity itself were not enough, Christ also endured here the taunting reproaches of sinful men who, in spite of great evidences that He was indeed the Son of God, still believed not. It was not for lack of miracles that surpassed anything any prophet, including Moses, had ever done that they would not believe He was the Son of God. “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him” (JOH 12:37). But now they press Him for one more, as if that would persuade them. The chief priests, scribes and elders in particular were lying through their teeth: they would no more believe on Him than Pharaoh of old who refused to believe God in the face of supernatural miracles. Their underlying disorder was unbelief of God's word: they didn't believe Moses or the prophets which declared Christ, and “...If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (LUK 16:31). The natural man believes not spiritual things because he cannot believe them (1CO 2:14). There is only one miracle that will persuade a sinner to believe: a new birth by the Spirit of God. Without that, all other God-given miracles are mere entertainment or annoyances to the natural man. While Christ was suspended on the cross in weakness, all these men suddenly found the bold speech they once had lacked when dealing with Him. In previous challenges He had stopped their mouths with sound doctrine (as His ministers are instructed to do, TIT 1:9-11), “And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed...” (LUK 13:17), “And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions” (MAT 22:41-46). But behold now their boldness! They are now quick to shoot off their mouths (or at least their lips, see below). Had they the Internet back then, these would no doubt have been “Keyboard Rambo's.” In their madness, the last thing this crowd would have wanted to do was validate Jesus as the Christ and Son of God, yet here they actually did so. Compare our text today with what David had said in prophecy about Christ: (PSA 22:7) All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, (PSA 22:8) He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. They had uttered almost verbatim what was prophesied to be said to the Christ. This is only one example of many things which Christ-deniers did which ironically served to confirm that He was indeed the Christ. Jesus truly did have trust/faith in God to deliver but it was not a faith which was limited to deliverance from evil, but through and out of evil. It was said of Christ's faith in God, “And again, I will put my trust in him...” (HEB 2:13), and so “...for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...endured such contradiction of sinners against himself...” (HEB 12:2-3). These sinners not only proved Whom Jesus' Father was by their folly, they proved whom their father was also. Their taunt, “...If thou be the Son of God...” (MAT 27:40) was exactly what Satan had cast at Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness at the beginning of His public ministry, and with the same bait: saving Himself contrary to God's will (MAT 4:1-3). John the Baptist had once called the multitude a “...generation of vipers...” (LUK 3:7) and he seems to have had a particular eye to the Pharisees and Sadducees (MAT 3:7), the likes of whom Jesus charged, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning...” (JOH 8:44). Like father, like sons. They were just doing what came naturally. They did not have to personally have been in the wilderness when Satan tempted Christ so as to learn from him how to taunt Christ: Satan's spirit is everywhere at work in the children of disobedience (EPH 2:2). Their taunt, “He saved others; himself he cannot save...” (MAT 27:42) was an insinuation that His power was limited or that His previous miracles were shams (the Pharisees had earlier said, “...This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils" MAT 12:24). The latter was most certainly not true, and the former a half-truth: Christ's power to save was limited only by His own law, not by His ability. He could not save Himself lest His covenant work of saving others be thwarted. How critically important it was for our sakes that Jesus was not only not easily provoked (1CO 13:5), He was not oppressively provoked. He could have come down from the cross under pressure and wiped out those men but “...how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (MAT 26:54 c/w LUK 24:44-48). Without His death on the cross, there would be no New Testament, no redemption or eternal life for any (HEB 9:15-16). He “...did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree...” (1PE 2:22-24). Had Christ reacted to provocation as Moses had done (by lashing out at the provokers, PSA 106:32-33), it would likely have gone ill with Him, and it would be death in hell for us. The taunters wanted Jesus to prove that He was not only God's Son but also the King of Israel by coming down from the cross (MAT 27:42). But the real proof that He was God's Son and Israel's King wasn't by coming down from the cross but by coming up from the grave. It was with an eye to His resurrection that the second Psalm saw David's promised king rejected by men but coronated by God, “...in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David” (ACT 13:32-34). Jesus is “...declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (ROM 1:4), and accordingly is now on David's throne as King of Israel (ACT 2:29-32). Similarly, we prove that we are the sons of God, not by evading the cross but by believing its finished work of redemption (HEB 1:3), glorying in it to the exclusion of our own merit (GAL 6:14) and by bearing it in self-denying submission to Christ (MAT 10:38-39). This is Christ's resurrection in action in our lives, “...that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (ROM 6:4), “...dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (ROM 6:11). This new life of obedience to God is what is called walking after the Spirit (ROM 8:1) and “...as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (ROM 8:14).