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Mark 266 - Passerby

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”

Mark 15:29,30

What’s the simplest thing to do? The easiest, the thing that takes the least amount of energy, time, effort? By far, the easiest choice is not to get involved.

You see a problem. You see a person in need. You see a situation where you’re not just qualified to help, but very qualified to do something. Change something. Fix something.

That’s what the people who just “pass by” do when it comes to Jesus. They’re on their way from someplace. Going someplace. And they pass by Jesus. Jesus is literally stuck there on the cross. And in their freedom, they just pass by. They don’t even take time to stop, they just keep on walking. They keep on moving.

But while they keep on moving, they don’t keep quiet. They hurl insults at Jesus. Instead of remembering all the good that Jesus did, they choose to focus in on insulting him. Instead of acknowledging all the good things Jesus said, they choose to verbally abuse him.

Even though Jesus is above them, on the cross, they look down their nose at him. They think they’re superior to him in every way. Not just because he was arrested and they are free, but that they are morally superior to Jesus.

After all, they haven’t been arrested. They hadn’t been put in front of judges. They hadn’t been found guilty. They hadn’t been beaten. They hadn’t been crucified. They were still free. And in their freedom, they were walking by.

Here was the random crowd, just passing by. And here’s Jesus. His rights have been taken away. He’s lost his freedom. He’s lost his ability to choose, to go where he wants. And he’s been nailed to a cross for something he didn’t do.

And into this unholy mix of insults and loss that’s been poured on top of Jesus, they add one more insult. They taunt Jesus to come down from the cross to save himself. After all, someone who claimed that they could destroy the temple could easily whip up a little miracle and free himself from the cross. Now how hard could that be?

What made this so cruel is that Jesus had the power and authority to come down from that cross. As King of the Universe, and the creator and sustainer, he had the right and power to come down from the cross. But he didn’t. He didn’t come down for one simple, yet powerful reason.

He chooses to stay there. He purposefully stayed on the cross for a reason. And it wasn’t some martyr complex. To get people feeling sorry for him. Or to show the Roman and Jewish leaders that he was more determined than they were.

No, the cross tells us many things, but it especially tells us about who God is. The cross is a great, big billboard on the road of life, communicating, even screaming two great truths about God.

First – God loves us. His love is too great and determined that he was not going to let our rebellion stand between him and us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Second – God is just. We all want justice. When we see someone take advantage of others, we demand justice. And God requires justice also.

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement … to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus

Romans 3:25

God can speak and create the universe. God can speak and create light and life. But God can’t just flip a switch and say that our rebellion and sin never happened. No, it has to be delt with. It has to be paid for.

And that’s what Jesus did on the cross. And he stayed there until every last sin and violation against God was paid for. He didn’t listen to the passing crowds. He didn’t take the easy way out. No, he stuck it out to the very end.

One thing to remember: it wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus on the cross. No, it was his commitment to us. His determination to save us. His relentless love for us kept him up there on the cross.

And he did that for the passing crowds that threw insults at him. And he did that for you and me.

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