And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,…
These men only needed to alter one letter to be grandly and gloriously right. If, instead of "cannot," they had said "will not," they would have grasped the very heart of the power, and the very central brightness of the glory of Christianity. "He saved others; " and just because He saves others, Himself He will not, and, in a real sense, "He cannot, save."... It was His own will, and no outward necessity, that fastened Him to the cross; and that will was kept steadfast and immoveable by nothing else but His love: He Himself fixed the iron chain which bound Him. He Himself made the" cannot." It was His love that made it impossible He should relinquish the task; therefore His steely will, like a strong spring constantly working, kept Him close up against the sharp edge of the knife that cut into His very heart's life. Though there were outward powers that seemed to knit Him there, and though to the eye of sense the taunt of the priests might be true, "Himself He cannot save," — the inmost verity of that cross is, "No man taketh My life from Me, I lay it down of Myself, because I love and will save the world."... Yet a Divine necessity for the cross there was. No saving of men from any evil can be effective but at the cost of self-sacrifice. The lamp burns out in the very act of giving light. So that, while on the one side there is necessity, on the other there is free, willing submission. It was not high priests, Pilate, soldiers, nails, that fastened Jesus to the cross. He was bound there by the cords of love, and by the bands of his own infinitely merciful purpose.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,