[Jesus said] "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30 NLT 1st Ed.)
At first glance, what Jesus did in this situation goes against everything I have been taught over the years. It also seems to defy everything I have tried to instill in teams I've coached. It appears to go against everything I've tried to imprint on my own kids. Jesus actions also runs counter to human nature and to the human "instinct" to survive. Jesus gave up his spirit!
Jesus could have stopped this whole illegal charade from happening, yet he allowed it to continue. So in effect, Jesus willingly endured ridicule, abuse, scorn, mockery, and humiliation as soldiers gambled over his clothes and his enemies took glee in his agony on the Cross. Jesus gave up his spirit.
How did he do it?
Why did he do it?
Very simple: Jesus did it, he endured, he allowed it, he gave up his spirit, because of his love for you and me.
Jesus did more than say, "It is finished." He also allowed his mortality to overtake him when he voluntarily "gave up his spirit" and died. This was a conscious act of his will. Jesus had hinted to his followers about this event in his teaching on the Good Shepherd. He said:
No one can take my life from me. I lay down my life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again (John 10:18)
No one could take Jesus' life from him. He had to give up his life or it would have never happened — no person, no power, and no government could have forced into reality. Yet Jesus died alone, bearing the awful cruelty and the debased mockery, so we could be God's holy and precious children. John put it this way in his later letter:
We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us (1 John 3:16a).
So let's be touched and changed by this incredible act of Jesus' loving grace. I can't think of a more honest response to such a loving gift of mercy than the closing words to the seventeenth century hymn, "O Sacred Head Now Wounded":
What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Yes, Jesus gave up. But, he did not give up on his mission. He did not give up on his love. He doesn't quit on his mercy. Jesus did not quit on sharing his grace. He gave up his spirit ... willingly ... because of love ... so he could ransom you and me.
This time, giving up meant winning us from the grip of hell's insatiable appetite and winning us to God for eternity. This time, giving up was winning.
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