Pastor Doug Stevens
The Leadership Connection
John 19:28-30 Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
We cannot know the depth of suffering endured by Jesus on the cross. We can only imagine —but our best effort to empathize falls far short.
We may know about the discomfort of deprivation, or have some personal experience of physical pain that became a protracted agony, or some memory of social rejection, or some recollection of betrayal, or some connection with a history of injustice — or even been victimized by a cruel conspiracy. But the cross, this Cross, the Cross of Christ, was unlike any trauma any human has ever faced.
This man was the only innocent man ever executed. Actually the only sinless man who ever lived. That he would be so viciously treated is the worst travesty of all time. And he willingly went to his execution — because of his great love for us and his decision to take our place and absorb the punishment due each of us. And we didn’t realize or care that this man was carrying our sin. Before we knew him, we were his enemies. It was an utterly lonely, indescribably brutal, absolutely undeserved, pitiless and apparently meaningless death. No one understood, his religious rivals reviled, his close friends abandoned, and his own Father turned away. There was hell to pay, and he alone paid.
“I am thirsty,” he cried out, and he was offered a swab of bitter vinegar. And then, “It is finished,” was spoken with his last breath. This is where the mystery deepens; we stand in awe, and are at a loss for words. He endured what no one else has, to accomplish what no one else could. We cannot comprehend his suffering, but he fully embraces ours — the condemnation we are now freed from, and our great thirst that he fully satisfies.
Prayer: God, we are so grateful. That you would meet our hostility and indifference with such kindness is beyond explanation. That Jesus would endure to the bitter end, once and for all time, proves your love for us and our value to you. What can we do … but thank you with our lives, taking up our cross in solidarity with the One who redeems and releases us. We love you. From now on and every day, we belong to you and will live for you. May our lives speak the only Amen that matters.