41 • So also the chief priests,
with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,
42 "He saved others; he cannot save himself.
• He is the King of Israel;
let him come down now from the cross,
and we will believe in him.
43 • He trusts in God;
let God deliver him now, if he desires him.
For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
It all started with a simple slogan about him having 'saved others …,' which none of them believed but it was worth it for the dramatic effect of the taunt it led up to, 'He cannot save himself.' Simple and effective it might have been but you could only repeat it once or twice and then there was a need for some other witty comment to call out.
Before the taunting started some of these men went to Pilate in high dudgeon, complaining that the sign over the head of Jesus said, 'This is Jesus the king of the Jews' but that was hours ago. The need for a claim to ridicule overcame the political objections as satire often does, and the 'King of Israel' was taunted to come down from the cross. The form was the same as the 'He saved others' slogan but the content was bolder with the challenge to authority in revolution mood around the cross.
Revolution is closely allied with unbelief so it ought to be no surprise that before the darkness was over these masters of wit and repartee were plundering Scripture for their ammunition. Perhaps it was the wagging head of some passer-by that 'inspired' them to take up Psalm 22 at precisely the point where the wagging heads lay off:
"He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" [Psalm 22:8]perhaps they had no recollection at all of where the words came from.
How can those men be restrained who in a few hours go from coining their own phrases to quoting Scripture itself in a challenge to Almighty God?
They were quoting Scripture (and Scripture that spoke prophetically and appropriately to the unfolding event at that) in derision of the one who was being punished because he dared to see himself prophesied in Scripture.