He Can’t Save Himself

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Condemned to death by crucifixion,

“[Christ] was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Is 53:7)

Carrying his own cross until Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry it for him, he will have walked along the via dolorosa out of the city to Golgotha, “the place of the skull.” “Here they crucified him,” the Evangelists write, declining to dwell on the stripping, the clumsy hammering home of the nails or the wrenching of his limbs as the cross was hoisted and dropped into its place. Even the excruciating pain could not silence his repeated entreaties: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” The soldiers gambled for his clothes. Some women stodd off in the distance. The crowd remained a while to watch. Jesus commended his mother to John’s care and John to hers. He spoke words of kingly assurance to the penitent criminal crucified at his side. Meanwhile, the rulers sneered at him, shouting: “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” Their words, spoken as an insult, were the literal truth. He could not save himself and others simultaneously. He chose to sacrifice himself in order to save the world.

— John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downer’s Grove, 2006), page 80.

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