Final Hours

Today’s Reading: Matthew 27:39-49, 51-56, 59-60, 62-66; Mark 5:23, 25, 27-28; 15:39-45; Luke 23:32-37, 39-43, 46-49, 55-56; John 19:19-42

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians when he found them being detracted into considering our faith to be like a religion, “… but may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world had been crucified to me, and I to the world.” And so today as we quietly mull over the facts of our precious Lord paying the ultimate price for us at the cross – I think the world’s bid over me begins to be broken forever!

How could they insult Him in such a methodical way – crucifying with criminals, casting lots for His clothes in front of Him, hurling insults and mockery – He trusts in God, let Him save Him! – things thrown at Him, like darts – deeply wounding Him in the most insensitive ways! How can my cold heart not be deeply touched by the details of His last minutes on earth!

Such compassion! To the thief – “Today you will be with Me in paradise!” Why is it there is no answer to His deepest hurt, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I think about the Chinese lady at the hospital I saw and heard once when she learned her husband had died wailing, “Why did you go and leave me alone?” But although Jesus knew the answer to the question, it was the painfulness of the moment of being forsaken by the One whom He always lived and for whom He laid down all the wonderfulness of Heaven in order to accomplish what no one else could accomplish for God! Perhaps it is the question word that everyone who is in great pain always asks!

And then He tastes the bitter wine to fulfill Scripture and hears people misunderstanding and mocking, but now with holy calm, He says in triumph over sin and death, “It’s finished!” And I am filled with great joy at the thing being finished FOREVER. But He does bow His head and gives up His Spirit to His loving Father – the only One who understood and valued properly the preciousness of His Son and our Saviour! The soldier can stab His spear into Jesus’ side out of frustration or anger or whatever, but out comes blood and water. Scripture simply says, “The blood of Jesus Christ CLEANSES us from all sin! We praise God and Jesus for His victory at the cross!

Wouldn’t it be lovely to be a Joseph and Nicodemus? All fear is lost at this momentous moment, brave enough to beg the body of Jesus, as far as they knew, it could cost their life to be a friend or disciple of Jesus – but what does that matter anymore? Did it seem somehow not right but that His body should be lovingly and gently and honourably cared for? Can we respond with the same sensitivity when remembering our Lord, doing it in a meaningful way when we meet together on Sunday? What if I knew He was actually there on Sunday morning – what joy and worship it would cause in me! (and He actually is there, although unseen by human eye!)

You have to smile at the chief priests and the Pharisees being troubled that Jesus might be said to have been risen again! And what did they actually do? By planting their own guards, they simply proved His resurrection beyond a doubt! “Pilate says, “Make the tomb as secure as you know how.” Apparently not secure enough, Mr. Pharisees – because no one can stop the triumph of Jesus rising from the dead and proving beyond a doubt that He had indeed paid the price for sin and now our sins and death for Him and us are gone for ever!

Have you rejoiced today over the beauty of our Saviour and His triumph for His Father and us over death and the grave! Is it that we are living our last days, last hours, maybe minutes before we too will break through the clouds with our loved ones at His triumphant shout to meet our Saviour in the clouds of “the beautiful morning of forever – without clouds?” And so as someone said, “Maybe today?” or as my mother used to say as she looked out her window, “Rob, do you think that’s the cloud Jesus is coming on?”! Yes, Mum, maybe or maybe not, but someday soon it will be that particular cloud!

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