Saving Yourself

“You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! Matthew 27:40 (NKJV)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” Luke 23:39 (NKJV)

     Perhaps the above verses could represent the last temptation of Christ. Even when we are wrong, people have a tendency to save themselves from the consequences of their actions. This is especially the case when someone is wrongfully accused. The normal reaction is to defend, to rationalize, to protest. All of this in an effort to change our circumstances.

     We can understand someone who would save themselves. We can’t understand someone who would willing be punished and die for sins they did not commit. But that is what Christ did.

     Peter would later write, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 NIV)

     Christ died on the cross, not for His sins, but for ours. He took our place. Because He took our place, we don’t have to suffer the eternal consequences and judgment for our sins.

     Jesus’ death on the cross was the fulfillment of the Old Testament ritual of the sacrifice of a lamb for the forgiveness of sin. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t undo the wrong we have done. We can’t justify ourselves and point to how others are worse than we are in order to save ourselves. We must pay the penalty or have someone pay the penalty for us. That is what Jesus did on the cross.

Hebrews declares, “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 NIV)

John writes, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 NIV)

We may be able to save ourselves at times from the wrath of man, but not from the punishment of our sin. That is only available through the cross. So, the proper response is not to work to save ourselves but to repent and receive the forgiveness that is available through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

The good news is found not in understanding or believing but in receiving.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)

That’s when the day we remember the cross becomes “Good” Friday.