"Save Yourself!" - A Good Friday Liturgy
A Good Friday Responsive Reading: “Save Yourself”
Two others, also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Jesus. And when they came to the place which is called Golgotha (The Skull), there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed saying,
Save yourself! Save yourself!
And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” And those who passed by derided Jesus, wagging their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God come down from the cross. Save yourself! Save yourself!”
So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe Him. Save yourself! Save yourself!
The soldiers also mocked him coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying,
"If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself! Save yourself!"
One of the criminals who was crucified with him also reviled him in the same way, saying,
"Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
Save yourself! Save yourself! Save yourself!
It is practically a North American mantra! Prove yourselves by defying the odds, overcoming your weaknesses, saving time, money, hassles, pain…
Our iconic American heroes are those who have saved themselves (and therefore have the right to “save” others): Oprah, the Donald, Dr. Phil have all discovered the secrets to riches, success, beauty and a life of maximum leisure. They are the epitome of self-salvation.
Even within the family of faith, why is it that we tend to see God as being “with” those who have testimonies of overcoming trials and temptations and failures, but we don’t see God “with” those who are willfully letting their flesh be put to death?
Those who live in a counter-cultural stream of surrender may, just as Christ did on the cross, look like a dismal failure for not “saving themselves.”
“Save yourself” – do what it takes to be smart enough, self-sufficient enough, pretty enough not to be mocked nor taken advantage of.
“Save yourself” = prove yourself sufficient, adequate, worthy, powerful, capable, smart, and even lovable. If you can save yourself, then I can follow you.
Why do we mock and ridicule the poor, the uneducated and those who look and act different than us? Why do we think they need saving more than we do? Could it be we are accusing them of not being smart enough, hard-working enough, and sufficient enough to save themselves unlike the way we have?
New Year’s resolutions – millions of people every year resolve to “save themselves” by organizing, exercising, eliminating debt, pounds, those extra pairs of shoes in the back corner of the closet, as well as unhealthy habits. But will they/we let God save them/us? Will they/we say, “Not my will of personal salvation, but yours be done!”
God never ever says, “Save yourself!”
Amazon.com has over 58,000 self-help titles in their library. If you read one book a day, it’d take you nearly 159 years to read them all.
Does anyone see the irony in this mocking cry?
God never ever says, “Save yourself!”
But He invites us, “Come to me to live. Die to self, and you will gain abundant life!”
Look at Matthew 27:27-44
Consider: God’s solution for salvation.
Pray: Lord, let me accept Your death for my salvation.
Repent: Lord, these are the ways I try to save myself…
Trust: Lord, these are the ways I will trust you to save me…