Mark’s account of the crucifixion includes the comment that “those who passed by [the cross] derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross’” (15:19,20). Matthew’s adds the comment, “and we will believe …”.

Imagine the scene – the blindness of their minds at all he had done, even raising Lazarus after four days in the tomb. One saying of Jesus had stuck in their minds, his answer when they asked, “What sign do you show us …?” His unusual response was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:18,19). Only later did the disciples understand.

There are those today who misquote the Bible, ignoring all the verses that say the opposite to what they want to believe. They talk of the soul being immortal, but “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). They talk of Jesus being equal with God but that is only true in one particular sense. In John 17:20-23 we read how Jesus prays that believers, his genuine followers, “may all be one, just as you Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me … that they may become perfectly one …”.

And so the disciples became one. Never again did they argue who would be greatest. May all genuine disciples today make progress in becoming “one”, and then, as Jesus prays, such believers “may be with me where I am, to see my glory …” (verse 24) when he returns to earth.

May none of us be like “those who passed by”, who “mocked him” saying if he came “down from the cross” they would “believe” (verse 32). He is now at the door and will soon appear. Then the mockers will “see and believe”, but it will be too late, he will shut the door on them (see Luke 13:25). May we have the perception of “the Centurion, who stood facing him (and). saw that in this way he breathed his last (and) said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’” (verse 39). We are not told what difference it made to this Centurion, but historians tell us that there were hundreds of Christians in Rome in AD 64 (34 years later) and that Nero blamed them for the fire that destroyed much of Rome; the Gospels show there were several Centurions who were not among “those who passed by”. May we be like those early believers, “who believed (and) were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32).