He Saved Others

Title: Easter Series ’07, #3 — He Saved Others

Text: Mark 15:16-47

Time: April 1st, 2007

We are just one week away from Easter 2007, the day we celebrate the raising of the dead of Jesus Christ to life. But before we get to the new life of Christ we have to go through his death, which we remember on Good Friday, this coming Friday. Have you ever stopped to think of that name Good Friday? Why is it called good? It’s the day Christ was beaten and executed on the cross by the Romans at the urging of the Jewish leaders. There he died an awful, public death. Why do they call it good Friday? I’d like to answer that question today, because it gets to the heart of the Christian gospel message. I’ll be reading from Mark 15:16-47 (read) today, and then talking about the one passage, in verse 31, “In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!’” If we can understand this little phrase, “He saved others, but he couldn’t save himself,” then we can understand the very core of the gospel, also, why it’s called Good Friday instead of Bad Friday. It really is odd that Christians would call the day the Savior died Good Friday. It’s also kind of odd that Christians don’t call the day the Savior rose from the dead Good Sunday, because after all you’d think that if you are going to describe the two most important days in holy week, you’d give them the names Bad Friday for the death of Christ and Good Sunday for the raising to life of Christ. But no, that’s not how it works. Why not? There’s a reason why Good Friday is called Good Friday. That’s what I’d like to explain this morning. The death of Jesus Christ is one of the few facts concerning his life that critics, skeptics, unbelievers, as well as believers all agree on. Everyone agrees and believes that Jesus was crucified. Crucifixion was the method, one of the methods, the Romans used to execute criminals. The Jewish authorities because they were under the Roman Empire couldn’t directly execute criminals – although we know it happened sometimes outside of the law, as in the case of Stephen the first Christian martyr in the Book of Acts. Two weeks ago I talked about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. After that I talked about the arrest of Jesus and his standing before the Jewish leaders, Herod, and Pilate. After that, Jesus was taken to die on the cross, the day we call Good Friday. Now few people doubt that Jesus died on the cross that day, but unbelievers dispute what Christ’s death means. For us Christians, Christ’s death means a lot, almost everything good about the good news or gospel. That’s what I’d like to talk about this morning – what’s good about Good Friday, the day Christ died on the cross. Let me unpack the verse, “He saved other but he couldn’t save himself.”

First, Salvation has two important meanings. Mark 15:31, “. . . He saved others . . but he can’t save himself.” Now who is it that made this statement: he saved others but he can’t save himself? It was the Jewish authorities who handed Jesus over to the Romans for execution. Now they didn’t realize it, but they were actually speaking a profound truth, although they couldn’t have possibly understood fully what they were uttering. But they were probably using the word “save” in a different way than Jesus and Christians usually use the term. They were thinking of one way to be saved, but they didn’t realize that they were really speaking truth on another level too. We can see that now, but they couldn’t back then. This is a case of divine prophetic providence. We see it in other places, for example, when the high priest said that it is better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish. He was talking on one level, but there was a greater truth that you could apply it to. The priest was talking about sacrificing one man’s life (Jesus) to the Romans so that the Jewish people wouldn’t die at the hands of the Romans putting down an uprising. Looking back, we see his statement applying to eternal salvation, better for one man to die for our sins than for everyone to perish. Well, it’s the same thing happening again. The Jewish leaders said, “He saved others yet he can’t save himself.” They were talking about the general meaning of salvation, which is to save a person from something bad, or rescue a person from danger, get a person out of trouble. The Greek word for save is sozo, and it can mean this general sense of saving someone from trouble, or saving someone from sickness through healing them. We use it this way too sometimes in English when we ask, “Can you save him dock?” when asking about someone hurt and rushed to emergency after an accident. Now the other use of the word “save” is more familiar to us as Christians because it refers to eternal salvation. “Brother, are you saved? Sister are you saved?” is a question Christians ask. Jesus mostly used the word “saved” in this 2nd way to mean eternal salvation from judgment to heaven. Jesus taught that the whole world stands guilty before God of sin. He taught that unless we are saved from our sins we will die, stand before God at judgment Day, be found guilty and condemned to die in hell for all eternity. Jesus came to save us from our sins, Judgment Day, and the damnation of hell. As you can see being saved from sin, judgment, and hell is a lot more important than being saved from some earthly situation no matter how bad. We’d rather be saved from hell than saved from a sinking ship. Even though the word saved can be used generally or in the particular way the Bible uses it for spiritual salvation. So that is the two ways saved is being used in this passage.

Second, Jesus saved others. Mark 15:31, “. . . He saved others . . but he can’t save himself.” Now the Jews were referring to the fact that Jesus saved or helped other people in his short three year ministry as a teacher and healer. How did Jesus save or help people in this general way? Well, think about the ministry of Jesus, what he did for other people as recorded in the Bible. What did he do? He healed all kinds of diseases, He cured all kinds of sicknesses, for example, He cleansed the lepers. What did he “save” in the general sense the lepers from? Do you know anything about leprosy? Our brother here, Brother Hancock has a whole sermon on leprosy and I remember him giving that message last year. But when Jesus healed a person from leprosy he saved them from a life of rejection and outcast. Lepers couldn’t interact with regular people; they had to live outside the cities in special leper colonies so they wouldn’t spread the disease. So if a person got healed of leprosy they were saved from a life of exile, rejection, and isolation. They were saved from a life of pain and suffering. So they were saved from a lot of bad things in life. Now sometimes Jesus raised people from the dead. What did he save these people from? From death, from dying too early before their time. But Jesus’ greatest work of salvation or saving was in saving people from their sins. The Jewish leaders wouldn’t accept this salvation, so they only admitted that Jesus could temporarily save people from their troubles by healing them or performing some helpful work. But in saying, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself,” they spoke something far more profound. The truth is Jesus did save others, in the particular spiritual salvation sense. By dying on the cross he was dying for the sins of sinners. By dying on the cross he was dying in the place of sinners. By dying on the cross he was saving guilty sinners like you and me from sin, judgment, and hell. Why do they call it Good Friday, the day Christ died? Because Jesus by dying on the cross saved our souls from eternal damnation. Because Jesus by dying on the cross saved us from condemnation on Judgment Day. Because Jesus by dying on the cross saved us to eternal life in heaven with God. That’s why it’s Good Friday because through the death of Christ all these good things come to us, so it’s really a good thing that it happened, even though it was a bad thing. If we honestly admit that we are sinners before God, that we’ve broken God’s laws and that we are guilty. If we confess that we are guilty, if we repent of our sins and place our absolute trust in Jesus on the cross to die, be condemned and be punished in our place for our sins. If we cling to the cross of Christ as a sacrifice in our place, we are saved. Have you done that? Have you come to the foot of the cross with your sins, repented, trusted Christ? That’s how we are saved.

Third, Jesus couldn’t save himself. Mark 15;:31, ” . . . He saved others . . . but he can’t save himself.” Again, what the mocking Jewish leaders said was true in a deep, profound sense, but they couldn’t understand that deeper meaning. They only understood on a superficial level. What were they saying? To their superficial thinking, they were thinking that even though Jesus could help other people, he couldn’t help himself. Or more specifically, during the ministry of Jesus he healed, cured, and even brought back people from the dead, but it seemed like he couldn’t do anything to help his own situation on the cross. Here was the great healer and miracle worker who couldn’t even get himself away from his own suffering and death. That’s what the Jewish leaders were thinking. They saw it as a sign of weakness that he couldn’t even solve his own problems even though he was reported to have solved other people’s problems. They were making fun of Jesus in this. But what they didn’t realize is that Jesus wasn’t suffering and dying because he couldn’t get away from it. He was suffering and dying deliberately in order to save people from their sins, save them from judgment, save them from damnation. Jesus had the ability to escape the suffering and death if he wanted to, but he couldn’t save souls if he saved himself from the suffering and death of the cross. So in this sense, the Jewish leaders who mocked, “He saved others but he can’t save himself,” were correct. It’s true. Jesus couldn’t have saved us and saved himself from death. If he had saved himself from death, we couldn’t be saved. Only by dying in our place as a substitute sinner for us could Jesus save us. So it’s absolutely true, he saved other but not himself. It had to be that way. So we call the day Christ died Good Friday because it was the day our sins were paid for and forgiven. It was the day atonement was made for our sins. Without that day, Good Friday, we are not saved, we are still in our sins, we are headed for Judgment guilty, and we will be condemned to hell forever. But because of Good Friday, because Jesus died for our sins, we are saved from all that, we receive the salvation of our souls. Now this is very important. Today, lots of people talk about Jesus saving them from drugs, Jesus saving them from alcohol, Jesus saving them from a bad marriage, Jesus saving them from loneliness, Jesus saving them from sickness or disease or injury, Jesus saving them from a boring life or suicide, etc. And these may all be true, but the most important thing about Jesus saves is our soul from sin, judgment, and damnation. Is your soul saved? Have you come to the cross of Christ, confessed your sins to God, repented in your heart of them (that means turn away from them, vow to never go back to them again with God’s help), and trusted in Jesus to save you by his death on the cross? Have you done that? If not, why not? Christ died for you for that purpose. If you don’t trust his sacrifice it won’t help you. Only by trusting Christ can he save you. Don’t go through another Easter season without knowing that you are saved. Pray with me. “Jesus you died for sinners just like me. I admit I’m a sinner, I’ve broken your laws, I’ve sinned. I know I am guilty. I know that on Judgment Day I’ll be condemned as a sinner. I know I’ll be punished in hell without your help. Save my soul. I repent of sin, I give my soul to you, I trust in you to save me. I’m counting on you to save my soul. Help me follow you. Amen.

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