A Biblical Narrative from Matthew, chapter 27:verses 38 to 44
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is one of the most pivotal events in Christian theology, symbolizing redemption, sacrifice, and the atonement for humanity’s sins. The Gospel of Matthew provides a detailed account of this momentous event, highlighting the presence of two criminals crucified alongside Jesus. This narrative, found in Matthew chapter 27 (verses 38–44), offers profound insights into the final moments of Jesus on the Cross and the contrasting responses of those around him.
To comprehend the significance of this biblical passage, it is essential to understand the historical and cultural context of the crucifixion in ancient Rome.
Crucifixion was a public and violent method of execution reserved for career criminals, rebels, and slaves. The subject was tormented by flocking with whips before being nailed or tied to a wooden cross and forced to die a protracted and horrible death.
Matthew, chapter 27, verses 38–44, recounts the scene at Golgotha:
“38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the Cross if you are the Son of God!’ 41 Similarly, the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders mocked him. 42 ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the Cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.” ‘ 44 In the same way, the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
The Symbolism of the Two Robbers:
The presence of two criminals on either side of Jesus holds symbolic significance. This arrangement is often interpreted as a representation of the choices available to humanity—one robber represents repentance and acceptance of Christ, while the other embodies unbelief and rejection.
Mockery and Insults:
The passage describes the crowd’s response to Jesus, with people hurling insults at him. The mockery from onlookers, religious leaders, and even criminals underscores the extreme hostility Jesus faced during his crucifixion.
The Challenge to Come Down from the Cross:
The crowd and the religious leaders challenge Jesus to prove his divinity by coming down from the Cross. However, despite the taunts, Jesus’ decision to remain on the Cross fulfills a greater purpose: the redemption of humanity through his sacrificial death.
The Irony of the Mockery:
The religious leaders’ taunts, claiming that Jesus cannot save himself if he is indeed the Son of God, ironically align with the Christian belief that Jesus, by not saving himself, became the savior of humanity.
The Contrast between the Two Robbers:
While both offenders first join in on the insults, the story illustrates a change in one of them. This contrite criminal accepts Jesus’ innocence and requests to be remembered when Jesus enters his kingdom in Luke’s Gospel chapter 23, verses 39–43
“Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus says, emphasizing the restorative power of faith, repentance, and his authority.
Matthew chapter 27, verses 38-44, depicts the crucifixion scene, a pivotal moment in Jesus’ earthly ministry. The narrative is powerful and theologically profound, juxtaposing two robbers, mockery from the crowd and religious leaders, and Jesus’ unwavering commitment to the divine plan. It is a powerful reminder of the transformative nature of faith and repentance, highlighting the enduring significance of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in Christian theology.
Rejecting the gospel and denying the divinity of Jesus Christ is a multifaceted and intricate aspect of human behavior. Various factors, such as personal beliefs, cultural influences, and life experiences, often influence it. The parallels between the insults hurled at Jesus on the Cross and the rejection of the gospel echo the timeless struggle between faith and skepticism, belief and unbelief.
I will highlight six reasons that contribute to people’s rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the Christ;
- Denial of the Messiah: Despite the message of salvation embedded in the gospel, some people reject Jesus as the Messiah. This rejection can be symbolic mockery or taunting towards the divine. It is similar to those who challenged Jesus to come down from the Cross to prove his identity. People who reject the gospel may question the credibility of Jesus as the promised savior.
- Intellectual Challenges: Some people reject the gospel because of their philosophical beliefs. They question whether religious beliefs are rational and often challenge the idea of a divine entity. This philosophical skepticism can sometimes take the form of taunting, where individuals question the authenticity of spiritual teachings and even challenge the very foundations of faith.
- Moral and Ethical Disagreements: Some people reject the gospel due to moral or ethical disagreements with its teachings, living contrary to biblical texts’ moral standards.
- Cultural Influences: Cultural factors also play a significant role in shaping beliefs and attitudes towards religion. Some individuals may reject the gospel due to cultural influences prioritizing secular values over Christ’s teachings. In such cases, the rejection may result from societal norms and expectations rather than a direct challenge to God.
- Personal Experiences and Suffering: Emotional suffering or tragedy can lead individuals to question the existence or benevolence of the Living God. The rejection of the gospel in such cases may be a response to the challenges and hardships of life, with individuals finding it difficult to reconcile their experiences with the idea of a loving and all-powerful God.
- Spiritual Indifference: For some, the rejection of the gospel is characterized by spiritual indifference. It may not be a deliberate challenge to God but rather a lack of interest or concern for matters of faith. This indifference can be seen as a form of apathy towards the spiritual dimension of life.
Rejecting the gospel can be viewed as challenging or taunting God from a biblical perspective. It’s essential to understand the spiritual repercussions of living in denial of The Lord Jesus Christ and rejecting Him as the savior of humanity, given His willingness to put his life on the line for the entire human race but embracing Him as Lord and Savoir in contrast to the crowds present when Jesus was being crucified on the Cross can be the most important and rewarding decision one could ever make because it ensures that your soul is secured from eternal hell.
Jesus has become the Lord and Savior of your life and the cornerstone of our faith and salvation, believe Him today, and accept Him into your life without any reservation because he is honest and loved with His life.