Saturday, May 9

Save yourself!

Scripture: 2 Samuel 18, Psalm 56, Matthew 27

Matthew 27:41–42 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!”

Observation

Don’t miss the irony of the Jewish leader’s mockery of Jesus.  They scoffed, “He saved others but He can’t save Himself.”  

Could Jesus have saved Himself?  Of course.  At one point, He told the disciples that He could ask God for legions of angels and they would come to defend and deliver Him.  He could have saved Himself.

But that would have been a denial of His whole purpose in coming.  He didn’t come to save Himself, but save us.  And the only way to save us was to give up His own life.  

Jesus had to choose between saving Himself or saving us—and He chose us.  

Application

Every Christian is called to take up his cross and follow Jesus.  We are called to make a similar choice: save yourself or save others?  Keep your life or give it away for others?

This jumped out at me this morning because I hear more and more people complaining that this stay-at-home order violates our constitutional rights.  The government can’t forbid peaceful assembly, or freedom of religion or speech.  I understand the argument—and I’m grateful for our freedoms, as we all should be.

But this isn’t about our constitutional rights; it’s about saving lives.  And sacrifices have to be made to do that.  As a follower of Jesus, I should be like Him, more concerned about saving others than myself.  I should be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of others, including temporarily sacrificing some of my rights.  And as an American, I was taught that my right to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose!  In other words, if the exercise of my rights results in harm to you, then I willingly restrict my rights.

Like everyone else, I’m tired of the lockdown and ready for things to open up.  And I think that based on the data where we live, we could proceed more quickly (albeit cautiously) than the governor’s guidelines.  I hope we do.  And I think one can argue some of the details of our governor’s plan.  We need to do everything we can not only to save lives from disease, but to save individuals and families from bankruptcy, poverty and economic collapse.

But this disease has killed over 77,000 of our fellow citizens in two months—roughly double what the flu kills in a full season.  And, that is with most of us on lockdown for those two months!  If we had all been out and about, the fatalities would be much higher.  

The great flu pandemic of 1918-19 that killed between 50-100 million people worldwide was relatively mild in the spring of 1918, but that fall, it roared back in a second far more deadly wave.  That’s what our public health officials fear.  

Jesus didn’t argue for His rights before Pilate.  He didn’t try to save Himself.  He willingly went to the cross to save us—not Himself.  Followers of Jesus do the same.  We don’t argue for our rights.  We offer our lives to save others.  

So argue for a lifting of the restrictions based on the data and science—but don’t do it based on our constitutional liberties.  That misses the point.  Especially for Christians. 

Prayer: Lord, I am humbled that You chose us over yourself. Help me to take up my cross and live as selflessly as You.