And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” (Luke 23:35-37)
There are two sets of mockers and sneerers here. The Pharisees and the soldiers. Note who the Pharisees were addressing when they said: “He saved others; let Him save Himself”. Certainly, they were speaking to one another, and the passers-by and the bystanders. Although their mocking was about Jesus, it was not directed at Him. We see them working the crowd.
I get the sense they were “So over this”. They had rendered their verdict in the Sanhedrin; manipulated Pilate to get the sentence they wanted; the sentence had been carried out, and so now die already. They were trying to ensure these witnesses at the crucifixion would not be moved by what they heard, or Who they saw on the cross.
Then there were the soldiers, but they chose to talk to Him, rather than talk about Him. They offered Him sour wine, then they specifically addressed Him. Because of this difference, they are closer to discovering Who this Jesus is than the Pharisees. Indeed, the Pharisees et al, had all the evidence they needed, but there was no life, no faith within them. Thus, they chose not to see. But the soldiers, they watched—they mocked—but they watched.
I don’t want to necessarily exalt one above the other—both had committed atrocious and terrible acts. Both had said and done things that were detestable, and they both essentially said the same thing: Save Yourself.
Save Yourself. One presents the impossibility that He could be: The Christ of God, His Chosen One; the other puts forth: King of the Jews. Neither believed such. They only wanted a show: Save Yourself. Now Christ saving Himself was never part of the plan, indeed it ran counter to it. It only seemed to them that Jesus needed saving. But explicit in their mocking was His perceived guilt—but He had none. Jesus didn’t need to be saved, just everyone around Him.
Out of these two groups, the Pharisees and the soldiers, there was one who got it:
When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 NIV)
A couple of important questions we need to ask ourselves are: “Who are we listening to? Who are we watching? The writer of Hebrews makes it plain:
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2a NAS)
It was never about saving Himself. Christ endured the cross to save you.