Self-Saving and Self-Sacrifice
Luke 23:35-37
And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself…

We have two things here of which the latter is much the more worth looking at.

I. INHUMANITY AT ITS LOWEST. There are many degrees of inhumanity.

1. It is bad for men or women deliberately to shut themselves out of the society of the wrong and miserable, in order that, without distraction, they may minister to their own comfort or consult their own well-being..

2. It is worse to look on the wounded traveler as he lies within sight and reach of us, and to pass him coldly by "on the other side."

3. It is worse still to regard the overthrow of human greatness or prosperity with positive satisfaction of spirit, to find a guilty enjoyment in the humiliation of another.

4. It is worst of all to do as did these men at the cross - to mock at human misery, to taunt it in the hour of its agony, to add another pang to the keen sufferings that already lacerate the soul. Alas! what may not men become! what positively awful possibilities of evil are wrapt up in every human soul! that tiny hand, so soft and delicate, so beautiful, so harmless, what blow may it not possibly strike, some day, against all that is most sacred and most precious! It makes all the difference whether, under Christian principles, we are steadily climbing up toward that which is holy and Divine; or whether, under the dominion of evil forces, we are slowly sliding down toward all that is wrong and base. What an argument for ranging ourselves, while yet young, under the guidance of Jesus Christ, the Righteous and the Gracious One!


1. The extremity of evil to which our Lord was then submitting; the most excruciating bodily pain; the most terrible and almost intolerable mental distress; the apprehension of approaching death.

2. The powerful temptation presented to him to deliver himself from it all. By one volition of his will he could have descended from the cross, thus releasing himself and confounding his enemies. He had

(1) the strongest possible inducement to do this from the instincts of the nature he had assumed;

(2) the strongest possible provocation to do this in the bitter and cruel taunts of his enemies.

3. His most magnanimous refusal to exert his power in his own favor. He heard those derisive cries, but he heeded them not. He let those revilers think that he was unable to save himself; he knew that if he did save himself he could not save others (Matthew 27:42). So he voluntarily continued to endure all that torture of body, to bear all that burden of shame and agony of spirit, to go on and down into the deepening shadow of death. Surely spiritual nobility could never strike a higher note than that, could never reach a loftier summit than that. How far can we follow our Lord along this upward path? There have been men who, at a certain point in their career, have clearly foreseen a dark and deathful ending, who have been entreated by their friends to go no further, to stand aside, to "save themselves" and think no more about the salvation of others (see Acts 21:12). And it is quite possible that, though we shall never be placed in a position just like that of our Master, we may have the choice offered us which was then offered him - we may have to choose between saving ourselves and leaving others to their fate on the one hand, or sacrificing ourselves and saving our fellows on the other hand. It' that choice should be presented to us, what should we do? The answer depends very much on the measure of the spirit of unselfishness we are cherishing and practising continually.

(1) Before us is a noble opportunity - that of teaching, enlightening, (instrumentally) redeeming men; but

(2) we cannot use this opportunity to any extent without self-sacrifice. If we are determined to "save ourselves," we shall do but very little in the work of saving others.

(3) We must choose between the two: either we must resolve to spare ourselves expenditure and endurance, and let the work of human elevation go on without our help; or we must resolve not to spare ourselves, not to save time or money, or trouble, or health, not to spare ourselves uncongenial acts or unpleasant endurances, that men may learn what they know not, may see that to which they are yet blind, that they may be led out of exile into the kingdom of God. If we are keeping our Master well in view, especially if we are beholding him on the cross refusing to save himself though challenged with utmost bitterness to do so, we also shall make the nobler choice. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

WEB: The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen one!"

Self-Sacrificing Love
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