I believe that Christ experienced the ultimate of temptation from the cross. And what was it?
"Save yourself!" (see Luke 23:32-39)
He heard it from the crowd. He heard it from the religious leaders. He heard it from the guards. He heard it from a criminal that hung on a cross next to him. Even though each group had different things to say, they all said the same thing: "Save yourself!"
And yet, as I write this, this verse came to mind: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23, ESV). DENY himself. At the cross he was tempted to disobey the very first thing that he told his followers was a requirement to be one of his disciples.
And from the cross he kept hearing, "Save yourself!"
The temptation was that Jesus would save himself. The result if he fell into that temptation would be that he could not have saved us. EVERYTHING was on him at this moment. He was betrayed. He felt completely alone, seeing all of his disciples run away, Peter denying that he knew him three different times, and God turning away from him. The weight of the sin of the world was upon him. And the temptation came. BUT THE JOY kept him up there. The joy of having those that the Father had given to him, to be with him and see him in all of his glory kept him up there (see Hebrews 12:1-2; John 17:24).
HE ENDURED THE CROSS, SCORNING ITS SHAME!
He DENIED himself. He remained on that cross, not just for us but even for those who were calling out for him to save himself. They had no idea what they were asking, and I am so glad that Jesus didn't grant their request.
Thank you, Jesus, that you overcame that temptation of saving yourself. Because you endured, you saved me and I know you.