and the elders mocked him . . . ”
The famous author and editor H. L. Mencken once wrote: “Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.” When Jesus was crucified, that was injustice. And while He hung by the side of the road, and the crowds came by to make fun of Him, that was injustice. But the words with which they mocked Him also contained an element of truth. They cast His own words and deeds in His teeth, and that must have stung.
“He Saved Others”
“He saved others,” they jeered, and it was true! For almost three years He had saved others. From all walks of life they had come, the rich and poor, the peasant and the noblemen, the lepers, the paralyzed, the dying.
When we hear the word “saved” or “salvation,” we naturally think of being saved eternally. But Jesus saved people from all sorts of disasters. He saved His disciples from a storm on the Sea of Galilee. He saved Peter from drowning in the angry waves. He saved a woman from a twelve-year hemorrhage. He rescued a man from going through life with a shriveled hand. He once delivered a man from a legion of demons. Three times Jesus saved people from dying, most recently Lazarus who had been dead for four days.
Yes, Jesus’ enemies admitted that He had saved others, even as they mocked Him for it. What they did not realize was that those temporary deliverance from demons and disease and dying were just the tip of the iceberg. The great truth was that He was in the process of saving them too — and all mankind — not just temporarily, but eternally! He was saving them from the justice of God by having that justice fall upon Himself. Did it sting? Just hear Him cry: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
“Himself He Cannot Save”
“Himself He cannot save.” He helped others, they laugh, but He cannot help Himself. He is helpless. True again! In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed that the cup of suffering might be removed. In effect He prayed: “If there is another way, let it be done that way.” But there was no other way to save all the others, and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. If He was going to save others, He could not save Himself. He could not save Himself because His great love for us compelled Him to lay down His life for us.
It is said that years ago in the Bronx a young “tough” was told that his sister needed his rare-type blood to survive. He looked at her on her hospital bed, and agreed. As he lay on the cot next to her bed he stoically watched the needle pierce his vein, and the transfusion was carried out.
When it was over and the nurse helped him up, he looked confused and said to the doctor, “Hey, Doc, when am I gonna die?” From the time he had agreed to give his blood, the boy had thought that it would cost him his life to save his sister, and in his love for her he had been willing to give it.
Well, in Jesus’ case it was true! He saved others. He could not save Himself. He could not do both. And He willingly shed His blood as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
The glorious truth about Jesus, veiled by the triumphant sneers of the enemy, but openly taught everywhere else in Scripture, is that He truly is the Savior, and He came to save us from our sin. No wonder we lift our voices, even in Lent, to praise the Lord!
Glory be to Jesus
Who in bitter pains
Poured for me the life-blood
From His sacred veins!
–Pastor Paul Schaller