Matthew 27:42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!”
It just struck me the similarity between Jesus’ crucifixion and the scene in the movie Silence where a group of believers are being threatened with martyrdom. The biggest unifying point to me is the lack of understanding of salvation. It’s hardly surprising that the people mocking Jesus had no grasp of eternal salvation, but it’s really sad that Shusaku Endo didn’t grasp it either, so he didn’t credit his characters with having such an understanding. Jesus tried to help people understand by saying such things as, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35-36) Physical salvation, not to mention luxury, is strictly temporal, but we are created as eternal beings. If we focus on the physical we lose sight of the spiritual, when the physical is temporary but the spiritual is eternal. Nate Saint had it exactly right when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” In Silence, the brightest point for me was the one believer who was martyred by being tied to a cross on a beach where heavy surf would frequently hit him. It took four days for him to die, but he sang hymns while he waited. Such people experience salvation indeed! Paul learned salvation both by faith and by daily experience. Not only did he write such passages as Ephesians 2:8-9 to explain how eternal salvation is received, he also wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) That’s what Jesus was doing on the cross, and it was what His mockers couldn’t grasp.
This is of course vitally important for me, as it is for every believer. As a pastor I seek to lead others into this understanding, but it’s difficult for us to shift focus away from our flesh. Today I’ll be attending the wake of the mother of one of our church members. She was not a Christian formally, but her daughter and grandson talked about Jesus with her in her final days, and her response seemed to be very affirmative. I cannot say definitively that she is with Jesus now, but the possibility is very real. If so, she is saved, even though her body is lifeless. The irony is that most Christians, even, are so distracted by their flesh and the world that they lose the “eternal hope” that is so central to the Gospel. It is when we keep that hope in sharp focus that our faith becomes so attractive that others beg us to share it with them. (1 Peter 3:15) That is how I want to be, and how I want everyone in this church to be.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I pray that the events of the next few days would draw many to Christ as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. May the believers be renewed in faith so that we may be and do all that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!