The Divine Paradox

Mark 15:31

WHILE Jesus hung upon the cross, the chief priests, mocking, said among themselves with the scribes, “He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Mark 15:31).

In their scorn, they were declaring a truth greater than they knew. While they meant to belittle Him, the real truth of their statement is to His eternal glory. To save others He must give Himself: it is the stupendous heart of the atonement. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).

In a lesser sense, and one applicable to you and me, it was also a fulfillment of Jesus’ own paradox: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). If Jesus had decided in Gethsemane to save His life, He would have lost it as our Savior: but in losing it, He truly saved it as our Redeemer.

Here is the application for us: In saving others, we cannot save ourselves. I speak of saving others in the sense of winning them to Christ and God. If we are to rescue others, we must expect to spend and be spent. So long as life revolves around self—self-advancement, self-promotion, self-satisfaction—we are wretched and miserable. If we are to save others, we must forget ourselves. When the family is sick, mother forgets herself in caring for others—and generally the Lord seems to keep mothers going in such times. In service, we Christians must lose ourselves with the spirit of Paul: “Neither count I my life dear unto myself” (Acts 20:24).

Then there is the other side of the paradox: In losing our lives to save others we most truly save ourselves. I am not here speaking of saving our souls; no good works can save the soul, but faith in Christ only. We can save our lives, our time, our talents as we spend them in saving others. The only time you ever save is the time you spend for others. The only money you ever save is the money you spend for others. It is the only certain investment in this gold-brick age. Paul has it in mind when he bids the Ephesians redeem the time. Jesus has it in mind when He says to lay up treasure in heaven. It is the principle of the parable of the unjust steward: use your earthly assets to make for yourself friends through service. Bread cast on the waters of service returns even if after many days.

How slow men are to learn that in saving life they lose it, but in losing it for Christ’s sake they save it. Mind you, Jesus said, “Whosoever will lose his life for My sake”—not for one’s own sake, not to be called a hero, not for consciences sake, but for Christ’s sake. Mere idealistic service is not meant here. Often that is a price men offer for salvation.

This is a day of introverted living. We look at everything in the light of self: what it will profit us, where we can gain by this and that move. Christ turns life outward so that selfish Saul, proud of his legal righteousness, becomes a Paul who could wish himself accursed for his brethren’s sake. Spend life and you save it; give it and you get it.

We do not save our lives while we save others, but because we save others. We often lose our money, our health, our temporal fortunes. But if we leave all for His sake, we shall be compensated in this world—and in the world to come, receive eternal life.

In saving others you cannot spare yourself. Yet in saving others you do most surely preserve yourself! All that you save is what you spend on others for His sake.

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