He Cannot Save Himself

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He Cannot Save Himself
Text: Matthew 27:42
Occasion: Good Friday
Audience: Adults
Theological Tradition: Wesleyan
Topic: Salvation
Author: George Lyons


As Christ did not rely on homself when he died, so we must not rely on ourselves to live.

How to Get There

  • The cross is the fulfillment of Jesus' mission, his hour of glory and victory, despite what it looked like.
  • At that moment, it looked like the world had shattered for his followers. They had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). Everything they thought Jesus meant was proven wrong when he died.
  • People watching didn't think about how much Jesus' loved them, how grateful they were to a great God.
  • It is only with perspective that we can call it “Good” Friday (Romans 5:8, Galatians 6:14, etc) because it truly was good. It is our salvation.
  • Law is great, but cannot give life. Paul knew that, he had succeeded at keeping the law, but his successes were shallow, sewage compared to the significance of Christ (Philippians 3:2-17).
  • Sin at its root is not violating the law, but disobedience from God, seeking right standing with God on our own terms. It is using our own power to save ourselves, what Jesus resisted for our sake.
  • And for Christ, love meant that to save us he could not save himself. It wasn't a suicide. He did not use his own strength to save himself, for our sakes.
  • It was our sins that sent him to the cross. One of us betrayed him. It was our illusion that we could save ourselves that was the occasion for his crucifixion.
  • Jesus could have saved himself, but then he could not have saved us. It took power to restrain himself, strength to let people question and to respect their unbelief.
  • The people demanded a sign of power, him coming down, but Jesus gave them a sign of judgment, his own for their sake. He resisted using his power for our sake.
  • Instead of freedom from Rome, they got freedom from sin. And the resurrection is a promise that he is but the firstborn of the resurrection, that through being part of his death, we will participate in the resurrection.
  • Christ died on purpose. He did not run, but relied upon God to decide his fate. It was a gift. And it is received by faith. Not political freedom from Rome or through miracles that force understanding. Faith is staking our lives and eternal salvation that God is as Jesus revealed him to be – holy love.
  • By staking our lives on Jesus' death the cross becomes our, the resurrection will be ours. And so we do not live for ourselves or by ourselves, but Christ in us, his death saving us.
  • That salvation is not an escape from this world, any more than Christ escaped from the cross. It is remaining here, on the cross with Christ, resting only on grace and not on ourselves.
  • He died so we can live, but not for ourselves, for him under his power.

This message was originally written by Dr. George Lyons, converted to this format by Brian M.

Things to Watch For

  • Most protestant traditions have lately begun to skip over Good Friday and move directly into Easter. Be careful about doing that, because the risen Christ is the Crucified Christ, and still has the nails in his hands.
  • This message hinges on what truly makes Jesus' death sacrificial. Most people don't think about this often if at all. Dispelling some rumors and confronting people with alternate ideas of what could have happened, and if it would have saved or not.

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