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Stood By, Watching, Scoffing

Luke 23:35 (ESV) – And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”

It doesn’t take long while scrolling through social media to come across a video of people standing around watching people fight or someone being bullied. It seems we have very few who will take action to step in during these moments. People stand around and watch. It’s entertainment. People rush to grab their phones, hoping to capture a video that will go viral. It’s an indictment of our society. We don’t care about justice. We like to see barbaric behavior. 

Our passage today shows that people before were not that different. As God incarnate hung on a cross, He suffered more than just the physical wounds of Roman crucifixion. He suffered the slander and scoffing of onlookers. We read in Luke 23:35, “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’”

Put yourself in Jerusalem on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. The word spreads quickly about Jesus’ arrest overnight and the rumor runs rampant that Pilate sentenced Him to crucifixion that morning. You make your way over to the place called Golgotha. The crowds are feisty. You look around and notice many of the same people that had marveled at His miracles before. Others were cheering for Him a week earlier when He arrived in Jerusalem. But the whole tone is different now. They want blood. Each jeer from the crowds instigates others around them to go further.

Luke tells us in his Gospel that the people stood by and watched. The rulers hurled insults. We know people gambled for His clothing at the base of the cross He hung on. The insults leveled at Jesus included the charge that He saved others, but here He was on a Roman cross unable to save Himself. In other words, where is His power now? If He truly had the power over life and death, nations and kings, why was He on a cross dying? But the crowds watching didn’t realize that Jesus wasn’t there by force. He was there by choice. The Lord could have called upon legions of angels to save Him off the cross. He could have spoken the word and it would have been over for both His torment and His tormentors. But He didn’t. He chose to stay. Why? For us. 

If you are in Christ,
it was for your salvation
that Jesus stayed on the cross.
The crowds stood by,
watching, and scoffing, but Jesus
remained in His place for our sake.
Praise Him today.

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Give thanks for the Savior that chose to remain in His place instead of justifying Himself before scoffers.

Reflection & Journal: 
- Why do people like to watch and observe bad things happening with others?
- What does it say about our spiritual condition?
- How does the story remind us of Jesus' faithfulness to the task of our redemption?

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