“He saved others; himself he cannot save….”
“He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”Matthew 27:42-43
His apostles had seen Jesus escape from his enemies before. They had seen him eloquently and publicly silence enemies who thought to trick him and watched him pass unnoticed through mobs bent on slaying him. Though they knew the dangers of returning to Jerusalem after he raised Lazarus from the dead, they also had confidence that Jesus was the promised King of Israel.
Perhaps Peter followed the night before because he hoped to witness a similar miracle. Rather than the bold and profound wisdom with which Jesus typically spoke, Peter saw him endure humiliation in quiet submission.
After he was lifted up on the cross, perhaps John hoped for an unexpected escape. Instead, Jesus entrusted John with the care of Mary, his mother.
Perhaps all of his disciples thought he would say something to the enemies who mocked and derided him… he saved others; himself he cannot save… he trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him… Instead, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?“
The despair that those Christians must have felt when their master died is difficult to imagine. If their enemies could prevail over the Son of God… the chosen Messiah… who then could be saved? What were they to do?
Determined to honor Jesus, his disciples procured his body and set him in a new tomb. After observing the sabbath, several of them came to respect him with prepared spices. They found an empty tomb, and two men in shining raiment who asked, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen…“
The message of the angels was not some platitude expressing his endurance through the memories of those who continued after him. He physically appeared to Mary Magdalene, and to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
He appeared to ten of the apostles, and then to the eleven including Thomas, who saw the tokens in his hands and feet.
He appeared to many disciples in the old world, and then ministered to the multitudes in Bountiful.
And even more than a thousand years later, he appeared repeatedly to the prophet Joseph Smith.
All those years ago, his enemies thought their witty snark was a fitting end at the death of Jesus of Nazareth… he saved others; himself he cannot save.
BUT THEN HE DID SAVE HIMSELF.
The finality of death – the end of mortal men from Adam the Ancient of Days down to that very moment at Calvary – had never been seriously questioned. But on that Sabbath Morning, Jesus broke the curse of mortality, defeated an otherwise insurmountable barrier, and took back his flesh and bone.
Beyond the miracle of saving himself and restoring the hopes of all Christians that the King they believed would reign, he opened the door for all the children of men. Because of Jesus, death is not the end. Not only did He save himself; He reaches his hand to you so you need not fear the finality of the grave.
This Easter, we remember with reverence and celebration the One who broke death itself: He who gives us reason to live right in this life, by giving us a new life.
Take courage… because Jesus Christ is alive and well.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021, March 29-April 4.
- “He Lives” -Elder Richard G. Scott, October 1999
- “Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also” -Elder Shayne M. Bowen, October 2012
- “He Is Risen!” -President Thomas S. Monson, April 2010