“And the crowd stood by staring and the rulers sneered, saying, ‘He saved others, let him save himself! That is, if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One!’”
And this is the response of the rulers of the Jews after Jesus uttered the words, “Father forgive them…” Indeed, the hardness of one’s heart, the spite of wickedness, and the folly of self-deceit runs deep in these people (as it runs deep in all of the sons of Adam). Jesus offers mercy and these leaders respond with evil. As Solomon wrote many years before:
“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright emancipates them.”
As we have been seeing, this passage marks fulfilled prophesy after fulfilled prophesy. These words that the leaders utter, “let him save himself!” are a fulfillment of David’s prophesy once again, this time found in Psalm 22:6-8. Again it is a reminder of the sovereignty of God not only over his people, but also over the lives and hearts of wicked men.
The language of Jesus being the “Chosen One” is significant on several levels. Much like the previous words, the title given to Jesus here is a fulfillment of the prophetic language of Psalm 89:3, that the Messiah is the descendent of David and the one who will inherit David’s promised eternal throne (2 Samuel 7:12-13), a prophesy given by Ethan the Ezrahite (Ethan was a Levitical musician during the time of David — 1 Chronicles 15:19).
What makes this language on the lips of the Jewish officials particularly important is that it makes it clear that the officials understood that Psalm 89 was speaking about the Messiah, that this is not a later, Christian, revisionist understanding of the Psalm. In fact, in the Gospels, Jesus is only ever referred to as the “Chosen One” once (Luke 9:35), and there on the Mount of Transfiguration, somewhere far from the ears of the Jewish leaders. Again, it is a reminder not only of Jesus’ fulfillment of prophesy, but of the Jewish official’s realization that the prophesy that Jesus was fulfilling is genuinely Messianic in nature.
And so, the Christ of God, the Messiah, the Anointed one, chosen/elected from before the foundations of the earth is mocked and ridiculed by men of little knowledge and even less power. How sad it is that human history is marked by this kind of behavior. How sad it is that the foolish in our society not only suppress their innate knowledge of a creator, but flagrantly deny and blaspheme him. But, how much sadder it is that many who profess to be Christian, blaspheme God by their actions, by some of the things that they choose to do, and by sections of God’s word that they choose to ignore. We ought to be humbled not only by the impudence of others…but often also, shamed by the impudence of our own words and actions.