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“Let Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” – Mark 15:32a (ESV)
The above comment was mockingly hurled at Jesus as He hung on the cross, having taken onto Himself the due penalty for the sins of the world.
Theologically speaking, these words represent the second “I dare you” statement in the history of the world, the first being in the Garden of Eden when the serpent, Satan, challenged Eve with these provocative words, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1), essentially daring Eve to disobey God by eating from the tree which He had forbidden her, and her husband, Adam, to eat.
In studying this passage in Mark, it is tempting for us to become rather Pharisaic in our own attitude and exalt ourselves above those who uttered those words to Jesus more than 2,000 years ago.
But, think about it. Are we really so different?
Consider, how often in our own Christian walk have you or I “dared” Jesus to prove Himself to us before pridefully obliging Him with our commitment to follow Him (as if it were He who needed us and not the other way around?)
The truth is, oftentimes, we treat Jesus no differently than the unbelievers who insulted Him while He was on the cross.
We insult Jesus when, like those who mocked Him at His crucifixion we say, either attitudinally or in our actions, “Let Him do [insert dare here] that I may see and believe”, as if it weren’t enough for us that Christ’s death fully propitiates God’s wrath toward us and completely expiates our sin.
No, we dare that Christ prove Himself even further when, for example, we pray for ourselves (or a loved one) to be healed from a life-threatening illness or to be blessed financially, and when Jesus doesn’t respond to our demands to “come down from the cross”, so to speak, we withhold our obedience all because Jesus exercised His sovereign right as God to not grant us what we dared Him to do.
Such an attitude is what I call “Christianity with an asterisk*”.
Instead of wholly committing ourselves to follow Christ because of who He is to us, as opposed to what He can do for us, we place asterisks on our obedience and say to Him, “Lord, if you’ll do this, I’ll do that” (the “if” being the asterisk.)
The irony of such a self-serving statement is that the word ‘Lord‘ means ‘Master’, which naturally begs the question – which Jesus Himself poses in Luke 6:46 – “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”
Good question, isn’t it?
But, I have another one for you.
In what area of your life are you daring Jesus to “come down from the cross” before committing to fully follow Him?
Or, is shedding His own blood to ransom you from an eternity in hell not enough?
Think about it.