We used to hear the expression, “Don’t kick someone when they are down.” But today, it seems many delight in “piling on.” It’s seen in schools where kids bully a weaker child. Or when someone is caught in a crime. Or when popular opinion turns upon the object of its scorn. Then every thing is “fair game.” And everyone can join in the “fun.”
That’s what happened on the Friday Jesus died on the cross.
Wouldn’t you think the public humiliation was enough? The suffering? The shame? Lesser men had died from the horrific beating. Now to be executed like a common criminal, nailed to a cross and writhing in pain, wouldn’t you think that would have elicited a little sympathy from the crowd?
Here’s what Matthew records.
“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt 27:39-40)
Other versions render “blasphemed Him” as…
“Railed on him…”
You wonder why? Why hurl abusive epitaphs? Why react with such scorn? Why vilify him? Why show such disdain?
Ironically, nothing is recorded about people taunting the two thieves. They were sinners. Jesus was sinless. They had done evil. Jesus “went about doing good.” They deserved to die. Jesus didn’t.
Maybe these unnamed slanderers passing by just went along with the crowd, and joined in the taunting. Or they were influenced by the religious leaders that hated Jesus. “The blind leading the blind.” They could have simply been skeptics and doubters who rejected Jesus. Or could they have dismissed Jesus because they didn’t like his message of righteousness?
Whatever the reasons, we will never know, but these are definitely reasons why people today revile Jesus. Some criticize Christ because it’s popular. False teachers have corrupted the minds of others. Ours is an age of skepticism, where religious faith is scorned. And, no doubt, Christ crimps the lifestyle of some “who want to do their own thing.”
Regardless of the reasons, those who “hurl insults” will one day have an awakening, just like those people did. Wouldn’t you like to have seen their faces three days later? Their self-satisfied smirks and derisive comments on Friday no doubt turned into stunned amazement on Sunday.
All people, past, present and future will one day voice acknowledgment and awe at the coming of Christ. Paul expressed it this way.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
My friends, it may be Friday, but just remember… Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman