Matthew 27: 39-40 "And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross"
It was Easter a couple of weekends ago and I had the chance to reflect on the cross of Calvary and Jesus' sacrifice there. One of the things which came through very clearly was that Jesus was tempted in a way no one else ever was. He was fully God and fully man (the bible refers to this as the mystery of Godliness) and He was tempted both in His humanity to lash out, but also to use His divine nature to use his power to overcome Satan.
You can see Satan's temptations in Jesus' final hours. They're easy to spot because they're similar to the temptations as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. They are based on the idea that Jesus wasn't really the son of God and therefore He had to prove Himself. They generally have the phrase "if thou be the son of God" in there somewhere. However Jesus was secure in who He was and knew He didn't have to prove anything to any man or devil.
In His final hours before his death, the taunt was repeatedly thrown at him, which was essentially "if you're the son of God, come down from the cross and save yourself". You can find this in Matthew 27:40-44; Mark 15:29-32 (save thyself and come down from the cross etc) and Luke 23:35-39.
How does that apply to us?
Jesus told His disciples in Luke 9:23 that if they want to follow Him, they would have to deny themselves, take up their cross daily & follow Him. There's a call to daily self denial & daily dying on the cross.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
As satan tempted Jesus to come down from the cross, he also gives us the same temptation. We submit ourselves to God and go on that cross. But as the day goes by, various situations arise which try to bring the flesh back to life. They call and cajole and taunt and scream at us to "come down from the cross". It could be anger, lust, gossip, adultery, lying, stealing, envy, or their manifold modern manifestations. You know what that sin is which tempts you to come down from the cross and prove yourself.
However Jesus has not left us without hope. He says in Revelation 3: 20 "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
When the temptation to come down from your cross comes, remember that you can overcome like Jesus overcame. How did He overcome? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that because of the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. He looked past the here and now by faith and looked to the future glory of our salvation. We can do the same; looking past our current temptation and situation to the future promise of glory. Or as Paul puts it:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."