The Bitter Taunt!
Few things are more painful to a sensitive mind than to be taunted — and especially to be taunted when in affliction and sorrow. Whoever suffered from this, like the Son of God? Now they ridicule him, "the friend of publicans and sinners!" And when in the bitter agonies of death, they insulted him, exclaiming, "He saved others — he cannot save himself!" Mark 15:31. But, as in the former case he assumed the title — so in this, he admitted the fact. If he would save his people — he could not save himself.
HE SAVED OTHERS. Yes, he had saved many from severe
sufferings, and some from the power of death. But above and beyond this, he
had saved millions from the bitter pains of eternal death! Yes, millions
would have been in Hell — but for him. He saved others —
saved them, without solicitation;
saved them, at the expense of his own life;
saved them, in honor of his Father's command;
saved them, to the everlasting honor of his own name;
and saved them, because none else could.
What wondrous love! What surpassing condescension! What amazing grace! And is he taunted with this? Yes, his cruel foes, his bitter enemies, insulting him cry out, to embitter his last hours, "He saved others — he cannot save himself!"
HE COULD NOT SAVE HIMSELF. Why?
Because He had engaged in the everlasting covenant, to pay his people's debt, to ransom their persons with his blood, and to die in their stead.
Because every sin offering, every trespass offering, and every burnt offering had pre-figured his death — they were all types of him; and as the antitype, He must answer to them.
Because it had been predicted by the prophets, that Messiah should be cut off — but not for himself; that the shepherd should be smitten for the sheep — and that his soul should be made an offering for sin.
Because he had been expected by his saints in all ages, to bruise the serpent's head, to make an atonement for iniquity, and to magnify the law, and render it honorable.
Not only so — but thousands, yes, millions had been admitted into Heaven on credit, because He had undertaken to satisfy justice on their behalf, and discharge the debts they had contracted.
Besides which, God had righteously threatened Satan, that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head — and that he would bruise his heel.
The glory of God in the salvation of risen,
the peopling of Heaven,
the delivering of the earth from the curse,
and the happiness of innumerable myriads
— all depended upon his laying down his life, and dying the bitter death of the cross. How then could Jesus save himself?
Had He saved himself — then . . .
his people would have been lost,
Satan would have triumphed,
the promises would have failed,
God would have forfeited his word,
the Scriptures would have been broken,
all God's gracious purposes would have been frustrated,
his plans would have been deranged,
Heaven would have been empty, and
Hell would have been crowded with the objects of God's love!
How then could Jesus save himself? He would not — but would rather have died a thousand deaths. He could not, or his character for truth, faithfulness, and love, would have been lost forever.
Let us then, admire the self-denial of Jesus. His whole life was a life of self-denial. He left the throne of glory — to tabernacle on God's footstool; he laid aside the robes of royalty — and wore the rags of a rebel; he made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death — even the death of the cross. No one ever did, no one ever could — practice the self denial which Jesus did.
See, to what your salvation reduced the Savior. If he would save you — then he must suffer for you, die for you, and be degraded to the lowest possible degree for you.
He sank beneath your woes.
He bore your curse.
He suffered your sentence.
He paid your penalty.
He endured of your sins!
You owe everything to him. Had he spared himself — then justice never would have spared you. Had he not died on Calvary — then you must have endured all that is included in the second death, in Hell forever. Rejoice then, in the fact that Jesus did not save himself. He preferred rather suffer death for a time — than leave you to suffer forever!
For you, he left his Father's bosom;
for you, he endured privation on earth;
for you he stood as a criminal before Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate;
for you, he suffered cruel mockings, scourgings, and the agonies of the cross itself,
for you, he died and was buried in Joseph's tomb;
for you, he arose, ascended to Heaven, and now pleads at God's right hand,
for you, He ever lives, and will soon come and receive you unto himself — that where he is, you may be also. He saved you — and therefore he could not save himself!