“With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.”—Mark 15:27–32 (NKJV)
The crucifixion of Christ was a public event, which means there were a lot of people at the cross, and God’s Word focuses on three groups in particular. The first group consisting of two criminals who were crucified alongside of Jesus. For now, we’ll just take note of their presence and come back to them later.
The second group consisted of men and women who had seen and heard Jesus from a distance. They didn’t know the finer details of what Jesus taught, but they caught the major headlines, like how He promised to raise up the temple in three days. Of course, those closest to the Lord understood He was referring to the temple of His own body. But this group hadn’t gone that deep into Christ’s message. They represent the crowd, the general populace, the average man or woman on the street who would quickly forget about this Jesus of Nazareth and move on to the next thing without missing a beat. Notice how this group reacted to Christ’s crucifixion with disdain. They misunderstood what He said about the temple, and their misunderstanding was the basis of ridicule.
This brings us to the next group: the chief priests. In contrast to the crowd, this group had thoroughly examined what Jesus had taught. In fact, they so understood the implications of what He was saying that they set the wheels in motion to have Jesus arrested, tried, and executed. There was no misunderstanding that Jesus proclaimed to be the Son of God, the promised Messiah who would restore all things. They connected these dots alright, but the problem was they didn’t believe He was who He said He was.
Why? Although He validated His identity with miracles and wisdom, He failed to meet their expectations of what the Messiah should look like, sound like, and act like. And as diverse as this group was from the general population, notice their response to Jesus is essentially the same: they ridicule Him.
Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him. (Mark 15:32b NKJV)
Now let’s circle back to the first group, the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus. ridiculed Jesus, too! What are we to make of all this? It’s simple: Humanity has a common problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of the crowd, the religious elite, or a criminal. Everyone needs to understand Jesus differently. They need to know Him in truth, for who He really is. He’s not an imposter giving out empty promises. He is the Savior King who doesn’t conform to man’s expectations. He saves by suffering and reigns by sacrificing Himself for those who misunderstand and malign Him. May we understand and share the truth of who Jesus is as His Holy Spirit enlightens and enables us!
Pause: What was the common problem of each group gathered at the cross?
Practice: Write down ways this common problem pertains to your own life.
Pray: Lord, may I see You for who You truly are and fully understand all that You have done! Amen.