Summary: "He saved others, but He can’t save Himself."
Truth Spoken Unwittingly Mark 15:31,32
INTRO.: The usual way to treat Mark’s account of the crucifixion is to focus on the people who surrounded Jesus as He died. There were nine persons or groups who can be distinguished:
1. Simon the Cyrenian, who was conscripted to perform an act of kindness. Perhaps it seemed Jesus would never get the cross up the hill, so this stranger was forced to serve the cause of the persecutors.
2. The Roman soldiers; men so calloused by witnessing acts of brutality they could actually beat an innocent man nearly to death then drive nails through His hands and feet.
3. The two thieves, crucified beside Him. One found repentance and forgiveness. The other only contributed to the mocking.
4. The passers-by, who hurled insults at Him and mockingly called Him to come down.
5. The single bystander, who toward the end offered Jesus a drink of vinegar. Variously interpreted as an act of kindness and one of unimaginable sadism.
6. The Roman Centurion who declared, upon seeing Jesus die and hearing the words He spoke, said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.”
7. A group of women, some of whom had been his followers and had cared for His needs.
8. Joseph of Arimethia, the member of the Sanhedrine who provided the tomb in which He lay for three days. Joseph was a secret disciple.
9. The chief priests and teachers of the Law who spoke the words of our text. They unwittingly spoke one of the greatest, most profound truths recorded in the Bible. “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself.”
There was a sense in which they were wrong and a sense in which they were right. They meant to mock Him, but their mockery was powerful testimony to the nature of His mission.
I. They were wrong: He could have saved Himself. The great expositor, G. Campbell Morgan suggests three possibilities:
A. Diplomacy with Pilate:
1. Pilate did his best to find some excuse to free Jesus in spite of the demands of the Jewish leaders. V. 4 But Jesus offered him nothing to work with.
2. He even tried offering a choice between Jesus and the obviously dangerous criminal Barnabas
3. He knew the motivation of the priests: v. 10
4. Tried to reason with the mob. 14
B. Appeal to the mob:
1. The priests admitted to a fear of this. Matt. 26:5
2. Thousands had shouted His praises as He entered the city only five days ago. They were still there.
3. The mob was driven by the priests. Surely He could have been more persuasive.
4. If He had stood up and made His appeal they would have rescued Him.
C. By Divine wrath and destruction of His enemies:
1. Could have called upon the angels. Matt. 26:53
2. I imagine the hosts of Heaven had to be restrained from flying to His rescue.
3. In the literal sense, the Priests and teacher made a very serious mistake. He could have saved Himself.
II. But, in another and eternal sense, they were right. He could not save Himself and remain true to His nature and mission: He is the servant of God and He will not:
A. Compromise with evil or with evil men:
1. He will neither beg for His life nor swerve from His mission.
2. Diplomacy involves compromise. Give and take.
3. God’s rule is based, not on compromise, diplomacy, but on Truth.
B. Exercise violence in order to save His own life:
1. He had known all along His mission would lead to this. Mk. 8:31
2. The principle upon which He acted. Mk. 8:34, 35
3. This would be the way of the flesh and He is above all that. He stands apart from other and lesser men.
C. Demonstrate wrath rather than love. I Jn. 4:9, 10
1. Time for that is coming, but not yet.
2. Hear what the prophet said of Him: Isa. 53:6, 7
3. He truly loved His enemies: the priests, Pilate, soldiers, etc.
III. They said He saved others but they didn’t know the extent of the salvation He came to offer men:
A. Didn’t come to condemn, but to save. Jn. 3:17
1. To save Himself would have involved condemning all these others He loved and came to save.
2. To save Himself would have been a temporal event. He came to deal with eternal souls. Must take the longer view.
3. By not saving Himself from the wrath of men, He would offer them salvation from the wrath of God.
B. What appears to be His weakness is His strength.
1. He had been strong enough to resist the temptation of the Devil in the wilderness and all His life.
2. He had been strong enough to surrender His heart to the Father’s will in Gethsemane.