As Jesus hung on the cross, the majority of those who saw him mocked him, but unknowingly their mocking was filled with irony. Some mocked Jesus because he had earlier claimed that if they tore down “this temple”, he would raise it back up in three days. They believed Jesus had referred to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, but in actuality Jesus referred to his own body. They called on Jesus to come down from the cross so that they would believe. Obviously, Jesus did not come down because he would fulfill what he had said and raise his body in three days. Interestingly, both the temple and Jesus’ body would be destroyed by the Romans. Jesus rose from the dead in three days, but when the temple was destroyed by the Roman general, Titus, it has not been restored even until this day. Jesus would accomplish what the mockers said he would, but not in the way that they thought.
Even the leaders mocked Jesus, because Jesus had saved others, so they called on him to save himself and come down from the cross so that they would believe in him. Actually, Jesus would do something even greater, he would rise from the dead, but they still would not believe in Jesus. Rather they would try to intimidate the disciples who announced Jesus’ resurrection.
The ironic unbelief of those who observed Jesus’ crucifixion reveals that sometimes we can observe an event and believe we completely understand what is going on and form conclusions from those observations, only to discover later that what we concluded couldn’t be further from the truth. To his disciples Jesus had earlier said that when the Holy Spirit comes, he would teach them and lead them into all truth. Jesus’ words indicate that it is only in relationship with God the Father and with Jesus that we have access to truth, because it is only through the understanding and perspective of the Holy Spirit that we can correctly interpret and understand what we are seeing and experiencing.