He Saved You
On 13 January 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 taking off from Washington, DC, crashed into the Potomac River. It was winter and the river was full of ice. The crash happened near a bridge going over the river. The TV cameras could see everything. Millions of viewers, sitting in their living rooms, watched as a helicopter overhead let down a life-belt on a line to a man struggling in the water. He grabbed the line, swam to another survivor just by him, clipped the woman in and they hoisted her up to safety. The helicopter let down the line again, and again the man did the same thing. He swam to someone else, and rescued them. He saved others, before finally, exhausted, he himself drowned.
Why did this man not save himself? The answer is that he was out to save others. In an even more amazing way, Jesus did not save himself because he was out to save you and me.
Today, focus your thoughts on Jesus, the Saviour of the world, and meditate on how he saved you.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
2 You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
3 You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the Lord;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken.
Saved by God
You cannot save yourself. Only God can save you. He saved you because of his ‘unfailing love’. Therefore, like David, put your trust in him today (v.7).
This psalm begins with David praising God for his salvation:
‘O Lord the king [David] will delight in Your strength,
And in Your salvation how greatly will he rejoice!’ (v.1, AMP).
In this passage we see some of the many blessings that salvation includes:
1. Answered prayer
‘You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips’ (v.2, AMP).
2. Unending blessings
‘You send blessings of good things… You set a crown of pure gold on his head… You make him to be blessed and a blessing forever’ (vv.3,6a, AMP).
3. Eternal life
‘He asked life of you, and you gave it to him – long life forever and evermore’ (v.4, AMP).
4. Victorious living
‘Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendour and majesty’ (v.5).
5. Joy and gladness
‘You make him exceedingly glad with the joy of your presence’ (v.6b, AMP).
Jesus Before Pilate
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Saved by self-sacrifice
The people of God in the Old Testament expected a Messiah (Christ). This Messiah was to ‘reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness’ (Isaiah 9:7).
However, in the Old Testament there was another stream of messianic expectation. This is seen in the ‘suffering servant’ of Isaiah 40–55 who ‘was led like a lamb to the slaughter’ (Isaiah 53:7), who would take the sin of the world on himself and die on behalf of the guilty (vv.5–6).
Nobody expected the messianic king and the suffering servant to be the same person. Yet, in a breathtaking way Jesus brought together these great messianic themes. Jesus is both the King and also the suffering servant.
1. Messianic king
When Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ (Matthew 27:11a) he replied, ‘Yes, it is as you say’ (v.11b). The soldiers mocked Jesus, dressing him up as a king and pretending to salute him and kneel down before him, hailing him ‘king of the Jews!’ (v.29b).
‘Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS’ (v.37). The religious leaders also mocked him, saying, ‘He’s the King of Israel!’ (v.42).
Matthew makes clear that the only crime of which Jesus is ‘guilty’ is being ‘the King’ (v.11), the ‘Christ’ (Messiah) (v.22) and ‘the Son of God’ (v.43).
2. Suffering servant
Jesus also fulfilled these prophecies. ‘He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth’ (Isaiah 53:7).
When he is accused by the chiefs and elders, ‘he gave no answer’ (Matthew 27:12). When Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ (v.13), Jesus ‘made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor’ (v.14).
Jesus, the innocent suffering servant, died in your place so that you may go free. In this sense Barabbas represents you and me, the guilty. He is ‘a notorious criminal’ (v.16). It is a question of ‘Barabbas or Jesus’ (v.17). The people asked for Barabbas and put Jesus to death (v.20). Barabbas is set free (v.26). The prophecy of Isaiah about the suffering servant is fulfilled: ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities’ (Isaiah 53:5).
Although Jesus was the long-awaited king, he was not the kind of king that the people expected – such as one who would go from one great victory to another. Rather, Jesus had to deal with envy, false accusations, unjust criticism, unfairness, misunderstanding, weak authorities, mockery and insults from religious people and the secular world – even the robbers. It came from all sides.
Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. He realised that it was ‘out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him’ (Matthew 27:18). (Envy is often the sin of the religious. There is a temptation to envy those whom God appears to be using more than he is using us.) Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent for another reason also. His wife had been warned in a dream and confirmed that Jesus was an ‘innocent man’ (v.19). He foolishly ignored her advice.
Ironically, the man who was to be remembered throughout history as the one responsible for the death of Jesus (‘crucified under Pontius Pilate’ – recited in the creed for hundreds of years throughout the world) tried to avoid responsibility by blaming others: ‘I am innocent… It is your responsibility!’ (v.24).
Jesus’ blood was shed as he was flogged and handed over to be crucified (vv.24–26b). Again, ironically those who passed by said, ‘Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ (v.40b), but Jesus died as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. The onlookers didn’t understand that Jesus’ self-sacrifice was voluntary. They said, ‘He saved others… but he can’t save himself!’ (v.42a).
He saved you and me because he was willing not to save himself.
The Plague on the Firstborn
11 Now the LORD had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbours for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)
4 So Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.
9 The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
12 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”
21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.
29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The LORD had made the Egyptians favourably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the LORD for the generations to come.
43 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal:
“No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.
46 “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.
48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”
50 All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.
Saved by the Lamb of God
Jesus says to his disciples, ‘As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified’ (Matthew 26:2). St Paul writes, ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7b).
The blood of a lamb protected the people of God under the old covenant at the first Passover (Exodus 12:1–30). You are far better off now under the new covenant. The blood of Jesus (the Lamb of God) cleanses and protects you permanently (Hebrews 9:12–26).
At the first Passover, a lamb had to be sacrificed. The lamb had to be ‘without defect’ (Exodus 12:5), pointing forward to the innocent Jesus. There is great emphasis on ‘the blood’ of the lamb (vv.7,13,22–23). The blood of the lamb without defect was to be shed as a sacrifice (v.27). When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, ‘Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29).
The blood of the lamb gave the people protection from God’s judgment. It was the ‘Passover sacrifice’ (Exodus 12:27). This foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus.
God’s instruction about the Passover lamb, ‘Do not break any of the bones’ (v.46), was specifically fulfilled at Jesus’ death. Breaking a person’s legs was a way of speeding up death by crucifixion. They broke the legs of two men crucified with Jesus, ‘but when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs’ (John 19:33).
Where there was blood on the door-frames of a house, it indicated that death had already taken place in the household. Those who obeyed God’s word by putting blood on the door-frames were spared. The blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, has been shed for you and me. The Passover points forward to how Jesus died as a sacrifice on our behalf. He saved you.
As we see in Matthew 27, one of Pilate’s many mistakes was that he didn’t listen to his wife! (v.19)
Verse of the Day
THIS IS JESUS.
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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)