One of the things that the crowd yells at Jesus while He is hanging on the Cross is that if He really is the Messiah, He ought to come down and save Himself, showing them His power, and they would all believe. And we read that and we think, well, yeah. If Jesus could take Himself off the Cross, I'd believe too. Seems like a win-win; we get to believe and Jesus doesn't have to die.
The question is, though, what would we believe?
We would believe in a powerful, almighty God. We would believe in a God with a hand strong enough to do whatever He wishes, even against our own wishes. We would believe in a God whose thumb could smash us into the dust from which we came. We would believe that God is powerful...
...but would we believe that He is love?
That's the rub. That's the challenge. Jesus absolutely could have shown His power on the Cross and pulled Himself off, but what would that have really demonstrated to us? What would we have learned about Him? We would come in fear and trembling, but the wrong kind of fear and trembling.
It's why His miracles always show not just His power, but His love. His compassion. His miracles do something for the very treasured human being stuck inside of the brokenness. He doesn't do stuff just to show off His power; that wouldn't tell you what He wants you to know about Him. It's not enough for Him that you know that He is God.
That's what all the other religions have. They have gods who want you to know that they're gods. Gods who flaunt their power above all else and make you feel small, horribly small, under the weight of their might. They are gods who make demands of those who know their power, who dictate all the time just what it means that they are gods and you are not. They are gods who lord it over their people.
But your Lord...your Lord loves you.
If Jesus pulls Himself off the Cross, you don't see that. You don't get to know that. You don't witness just how deep His love for you is. If He comes down and says, you know, it's cool; I don't need to die, then what He's really saying is that power is enough for Him. It's all He really wants. But if He stays...if He gives up His spirit, if He dies and the earth trembles and shakes, the graves rattle, the bones rise, and the curtain is torn in two, then you see not just all the power that He holds but all the love that He has that He was willing to die just to show you.