What Jesus Did! 'My Salvation, Not His Own' — Matthew 27:38-40

Friday, December 17, 2021

Two revolutionaries were crucified with [Jesus], one on his right and one on his left.

The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. "Look at you now!" they yelled at him. "You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!"

— Matthew 27:38-40 NLT

Key Thought

It is truly hard for us to imagine the shame and indignity that crucifixion was for Jesus. The very word "crucify" was considered too crude for people with any dignity to use in conversation. It was a punishment reserved for only the worst of criminals or the scum-of-the-earth lower class criminals. Roman citizens could not be crucified. It was a curse to be crucified, or "hung on a tree," in the Jewish idiom. The Romans used it to cast fear into the hearts of their subjects, including the Jewish people, so they would not become too independent minded. It was to humiliate them with a brutal statement made in public about what would happen to anyone who dared to challenge Roman authority.

At Jesus' crucifixion, there were two criminals on other crosses. But to bring salvation, the lone innocent on a cross had to withhold his power as Son of God. If he chose to save himself, we would have lost our chance to be saved. He became our sin offering, our atoning sacrifice, the bearer of our sins.

He bore indignity, humiliation, rejection, torture, ridicule, mockery, cruelty, and our sin so we could stand before God clean, pure, holy, and without blemish. He withheld salvation for himself so he could offer it to you and me!

Today's Prayer

Almighty and compassionate Father, I know that not only did Jesus die for me, but that he died for those who don't even know it yet. Please stir my passion to share that saving message with others who do not yet know the saving grace you have offered us in sending Jesus and having him die for my sins. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 1 Peter 3:18
  • 1 John 2:1-2
  • Colossians 1:21-23


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Illustration of Matthew 27:38-40 NLT — "Look at you now!"   ——   "You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!"

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.