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!"
NIV The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One."
NASB And the people stood by, watching. 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.'
CSB The people stood watching, and even the leaders were scoffing: "He saved others; let him save himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!"
NLT The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. 'He saved others,' they said, 'let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.'
KJV And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
NKJV And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”

What does Luke 23:35 mean?

Two thieves hang on either side of Jesus; all three have been crucified. The chief priests, elders, and scribes mock Him. The soldiers, who have divided up His clothes between them, join in (Luke 23:34, 36–37). Matthew and Mark mention "those who passed by derided him" (Matthew 27:39; Mark 15:29). Luke is the only gospel writer to take a particular interest in the less-invested crowd members.

When Jesus had to walk to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion, Luke alone mentions that "there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him" (Luke 23:27). Here, they "watch." Later, when Jesus dies, Luke will comment, "And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts" (Luke 23:48). It's possible many in the crowd don't join in mocking Jesus until they hear the religious leaders.

Matthew 27:41–43 is more specific about the words of the priests, scribes, and elders: "So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 'He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, "I am the Son of God."'"

This reflects the same idea as did Satan when quoting Psalm 91:11–12 when Jesus was in the wilderness at the beginning of His public ministry (Luke 4:10–11).

If Jesus weren't God, the Son of God, the Messiah, and Israel's king, their mocking would make sense. But He is the Son of God. After Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, Jesus scolded him, saying, "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:51–53). But, as He told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world" (John 18:36).

The people don't understand that by staying on that cross, Jesus is saving others. He does not need to be rescued or to save Himself; He gave up His life willingly for others to be saved (John 3:16–18; 10:11–18). Jesus followed His words to Peter with, "But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" (Matthew 26:54). Jesus asked the Father if the cup could be removed; the answer was no (Luke 22:42). So, yes, Jesus is "the Christ of God, his Chosen One." And He will not prevent His crucifixion. He does what the Father asks of Him, and so He will stay on that cross and bear the sins of the crowd and the religious leaders who mock Him.
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