An Object of Derision
As Isaiah 53:9 predicts, our Lord is also crucified alongside the wicked, two robbers who are probably on their crosses for insurrection (Matt. 27:38). Although Luke 23:39–43 tells us one of these criminals later trusts in Jesus, both of them initially join the passersby and the religious authorities to mock and curse our Savior (Matt. 27:39–44). They claim that they will believe if He uses His power to come down from the cross (v. 42), but we know the Jewish leaders would only charge Jesus with sorcery or other devilish deeds (12:24).
Behind these taunts is the false assumption that the Messiah and Son of God must conquer Rome, not be killed by the Gentiles. They do not see that Jesus stays on the cross precisely because He is God’s Son. Love keeps Him there so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
Many of Jesus’ contemporaries refused to accept the Messiah’s shame and curse on the cross, and many in the history of the church have done the same, denying the substitutionary nature of the atonement and the fact that God cursed our sin in Jesus. To show His great mercy and satisfy His justice, the Father condemned the sins of His people in His Son. Any attempt to make the cross merely a good example or an accident of history destroys the gospel of salvation.
Passages for Further Study
- Genesis 22:1–19
- Proverbs 14:9
- John 19:16b–27
- Galatians 3:10–14