by Darren Pope
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When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30).
Wow, that is heavy going! In a few short words of simple text, it says that they crucified him. Reading it is hard to digest. Tears well up in me, my heart beats faster, my head spins and my demeanour sinks. It’s just ugly, gruesome and horrific. Crucifixion causes death, but not by pain from the nails driven through hands and ankles. It is gruesome and horrific. Death by asphyxiation. Lungs collapse after hours of agony, pushing up on severed ankles to expand the chest and gasp for another breath.
What a hopeless scene. So where is the gospel in the hurly-burly of this messy power grab and complete humiliation? Where is hope?
Jesus experienced false accusations, taunts, temptation, excruciating suffering, emotional torture, exclusion and public humiliation. I need to pause after that list. Every one of these words is an action and things people deliberately did to him. In each of these, Jesus is fully God and fully human. Soaking up the horror of sin as God, feeling every nerve being severed as a human and continually being grounded in the reassurance of unconditional love, forgiveness and eternal life through grace, Christ radiated hope. The quiet, intentional way that Jesus absorbed every battering, and ultimately his gruesome death, injects bold and unquestionable hope into our lives today and in the days yet to come. That’s the gospel right there. It is always God’s work. It doesn’t matter how ugly it is; he gets it. Lean into him. Our hope is in Christ. It’s enough.
God of hope, I am leaning into you today. Thank you for being enough. Amen.