Summary: Jesus’ tormentors taunted Him, saying, "He saved others; He cannot save Himself." They unknowingly spoke the truth concerning Him. Indeed, He could not save Himself ... if we were to be saved.
ONE THING JESUS COULD NOT DO
“He saved others; He cannot save himself.”
Boisterous, mocking religious men surrounded the cross. Laughing at the helpless man hanging suspended between life and death, they belched out vile, venomous scorn. Among the taunts they hurled at Him as He gasped for breath was a reminder of His mission on earth. Privately, He had testified to His disciples immediately before His death that “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” [LUKE 19:10. Publicly, He had enraged the religious elite when He had testified, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” [JOHN 12:47]. Now they threw His words in His face, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.” Of course, they unknowingly spoke the truth.
At His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus took upon Himself all the vile hatred of mankind. Isaiah spoke prophetically of Jesus’ suffering when he wrote,
“Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.”
In the final strophe of the sixth verse, Isaiah uses especially strong language. The NET Bible states that, “The LORD caused the sin of all of us to attack Him.” It was not, therefore, only the Jewish religious leaders who caused the Saviour to give His life, but it was the sin of each of us.
Had we not been sinners, it would not have been necessary for the Saviour to give His life as a sacrifice for us. However, we are sinners. Therefore, God did present His Son as our sacrifice. We now see the Saviour as “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” [see GALATIANS 2:20].
This is Easter Sunday, the day Christians usually set aside to commemorate Christ’s victory over death. For us as Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ powerful conquest of death. This is a day of hope for all who are born from above and into the Kingdom of God. Together with believers throughout the world, we rejoice in the knowledge of life in the Beloved Son. However, we durst not forget that in order to see the day of conquest, Christ would need experience the pain of death. That is the focus of our study this Easter morning.
JESUS SAVED OTHERS — The religious leaders that mocked Jesus ridiculed the thought that He saved others. After all, they could not see salvation. Reclining at dinner on one occasion, a notorious sinner crept to the feet of the Master. Standing there, contrasting her woeful condition to the purity of the man stretched out before her, her tears began to fall; and the tears spilling from her eyes wetted His feet. Undoubtedly embarrassed at her emotional display, and having nothing to dry His feet, she unloosed her hair and wiped the tears from His feet with her hair. Having wiped His feet, she anointed His tired feet with an alabaster flask of ointment.
Simon, the Pharisee in whose home Jesus was a guest, watched, bemused at the spectacle and at the fact that the Prophet of Galilee seemed unconcerned by what was happening. He thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” [LUKE 7:39]. However, Jesus was aware of Simon’s inner musing and the critical nature of his thoughts. So, he addressed Simon.
First, Jesus told a parable. “‘A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ And He said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’
Score one for the Pharisee; he knew what was being said in the parable. However, he was not prepared for what would come out of his admission of essential justice. The text continues, “Then turning toward the woman [Jesus] said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’”