I know what you're thinking. . . maybe I could get another ham sandwich out of the scraps in the fridge, but those mashed potatoes are looking really gross. And I don't even want to think about another boiled egg.
Don't worry. For once, my mind isn't on food. You have my permission to run that stuff through the garbage disposal.
It's just funny how things strike a person at odd times. This one hit me while reading Scripture aloud at Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday. It wasn't because I was reading a different translation or that it was something that I hadn't read countless times. But for some reason I found myself in the sandals of those gathered around the cross -- not with Mary and John and the faithful, but with the scoffers and hecklers. The Bible tells us that the Pharisees and company ridiculed Jesus saying, "He claimed to save others, but He can't save Himself!" And they called to Him, "Come on down from there and then we'll believe in You!" Those were just a few of the insults hurled at Him during the Passion. But they stuck with me this time around.
Now had I been the One on the cross, I'm not sure I could have been so restrained with the peanut gallery. I would have been mentally reviewing prophecy to see if there was anything about a few rogue lightning bolts hitting select people standing near the cross! Couldn't the atonement still occur with a few dead Pharisees lying about? Of course Jesus' thinking was not focused on the lamebrains talking smack at Him on the cross. I doubt that He paid them much attention, especially with the condition He was in at the time.
But what about those hecklers? What was the premise behind their insults? They seemed to assert that Jesus' abilities were indicated solely by His actions. "If this Jesus could save Himself, surely He would," they reasoned. And since Jesus didn't come down from the cross, then He certainly did not have the power to do so, according to the brilliance of the cross-side philosophers. They figured that Jesus would do everything He could to save Himself. But they were working with a faulty premise.
Satan found out just how wrong that premise was when He tested Jesus in the desert. He saw that Jesus was not the kind of Messiah who would do something simply because He possessed the power to do it. Jesus didn't try to make a sandwich out of rocks, although He certainly could have. He didn't toss Himself off the top of the temple despite the fact that He could have displayed some amazing power had He done so. Jesus did not act out of selfish interest. Instead, He told His Father, "Not my will, but thine."
So what the loudmouths standing near the cross didn't understand was that although Jesus could have done whatever He pleased, what pleased Him was pleasing the Father. If, as we are instructed in Philippians 2, our attitude is the same as Christ Jesus, then our aim should be not to please ourselves but to please God.
But should we be so hard on those shouting insults at the Master? Many people succumb to the same type of faulty logic at times. We question God when trials start to overtake us. We wonder why God would allow sickness and disease to afflict us when we could do so much more for the Kingdom if we were completely well. We accumulate our pride in one big ball and start to think that God should honor our desires. We want to see Him do the amazing, like step off the cross. But what God wants is for us to say, "Not my will, but thine."
Our beliefs about God's power do not restrict what He can really do, nor do they change Who He actually is. Our idea of logic doesn't always apply to God because God's ways are so far above ours. Our focus on ourselves is selfish foolishness in comparison to incredible majesty of Almighty God.
While the scoffers and hecklers thought they knew the truth, Jesus knew better. And once Sunday arrived, many others knew better as well.