“He Saved Others; He Cannot Save Himself.”
(Mark 15:31)
by Pastor George Van Alstine

We have a hard time accepting the idea of a dying Savior. It makes us feel very vulnerable, the way we might feel if we learned that our financial adviser has just gone bankrupt, or that our marriage counselor has left his wife. If he can’t save himself, how can he save us?

However, the Gospel story is very clear about the fact that Jesus was not a victim, but a willing sacrifice. The Savior whom God provided for us was intentionally a “dying Savior.” The scoffers at the foot of the cross ridiculed, “He can not save himself,” but the unspoken answer from the cross was, “No, he will not save himself.” John records this teaching of Jesus shortly before his march to Jerusalem and to his death:

“I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:17-18)

God saves us by his Self sacrifice. This makes us very uncomfortable for two reasons. First, such an awesome denial of a Self much greater than our own self leaves us infinitely in his debt. We can never thank him enough, and we don’t like that. We’d like to be able to “thank him enough,” so that we no longer feel we owe him, but we can never catch up to his giving.

The second reason we are uncomfortable with a “dying Savior” is that his example calls upon us to become “dying saviors” to the lost and hurting people around us. Whatever cross he has allowed us to hang from, we should not try to climb down from it to save ourselves. True service as an agent of the “dying Savior” will not be at our own convenience, but rather will always involve considerable self sacrifice. And this self sacrifice will be voluntary, not coerced, because the Spirit of the “dying Savior” has transformed our spirits.

When Jesus said, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again,” his primary reference was, of course, to the assurance of his Resurrection. But I wonder if he may have also intended a second meaning: “I lay down my life in order to take it up again in the ‘dying savior’ ministry of (your name here), my follower in the year 2011.”

So, you want to be a Christian!