The Jewish leaders gathered around the site of the execution. If there was ever a time to rethink or doubt their course of action this was it. Instead, they boasted with confidence, “he saved others, if he really is who he says he is, let him save himself”. This scene from the final moments of Jesus’ life has always struck me as strange. First, the leaders are admitting that he has “saved others”. “Yeah we know that he has changed the lives of all sorts of people. We’ll give you that he has healed sick people. We can’t even deny that Lazarus is alive and walking around thanks to Jesus, but we feel justified in what we are doing because he can’t save himself.”
Most everyone in our world today can relate to those Jewish leaders two millennia ago. We can’t imagine how anyone wouldn’t be primarily concerned with their own self-interest. The only reason we can imagine that someone would not look out for themselves is if they didn’t have the power to do so. So, if Jesus wasn’t saving himself, he must not have had the power to do so.
One of the most powerful disciplines Christians are called to embrace is to live a life of self-sacrifice for the good of others. It runs counter to our normal instinct. But, if love is our highest calling, then there is nothing more noble than spending ourselves for the good of others. Here’s a couple of things to remember when it comes to self-sacrifice:
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There are times when sacrificing your own comforts to help others can actually make things worse. Some people may be avoiding responsibility for their lives and well-being, if that’s the case, then stepping in to solve problems for them may only exacerbate their struggles. That would not be for “their good” at all.
God calls us to give our time, energy, money, etc. for the good of those in need. He also calls us to times of rest and replenishment. It’s impossible to be “on” all of the time. By stopping from time to time, we are able to create space for God to care for us. These pauses also keep us from becoming dependent on coming through for others.
Self-sacrifice doesn’t make sense apart from the life and calling of Jesus. It’s impossible to love in that way, unless you know and enjoy the love that Jesus offers to you. I hope that you’ve been able to enjoy that love, you were created for it!