He Saved Others, But Not Himself
So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “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.” Matthew 27:41-42
The angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that the child within Mary’s womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he is to name Him Jesus “for He will save His people from their sins.” From this announcement forward, the promise is not that Jesus will save Himself, but that He would save others. When the angels appeared to the Shepherds, the glad tidings that they brought was not that this child had come to preserve His own self-interests, but that for them was born One who would be their Savior. Likewise, when Jesus scandalously goes to the house of the sinner, Zacchaeus, He announces His purpose in coming. However, the purpose that He reveals was not one of saving His reputation or status, but to save those who were lost in sin.
The chief priests, the scribes and the elders mocked Jesus as He hangs upon the cross, still stinging at the mercy and grace that He shows to the least, the lowest and the lost, they cry out, “He saved others, he cannot save himself.” So ironic and so true! Jesus saves others by not saving Himself. That was never the purpose and mission give to Him by His Father. He would not save Himself, nor would Elijah save Him. He was sent on a mission to save others by sacrificing Himself. As the High Priest Caiaphas would say, “It is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” (Jn 11:50)
Jesus Christ came to pay the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. As the writer to the Hebrews notes, “Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,.” (Heb 10:12) Repeatedly in Hebrews we are reminded that this one sacrifice is offered for all sins, for all people, for all time. All this is done as Christ saved others by sacrificing Himself. As our Lord Himself would declare, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” As we continue to reflect on Christ’s passion during this Lenten season, may we find comfort and peace in the lengths to which Christ went to save us and be once again marvel at God’s eternal plan of salvation as it is revealed even in the ironic words of the chief priests and scribes. Thanks be to God that Jesus saved others and not Himself!
Prayer – O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power, defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan
This meditation is inspired by D.A. Carson’s “Ironies of the Cross” found in his book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus.”