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After the end, God …

Friday, April 4, 2003

Psalm 34:17-20
17) The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19) A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20) he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.


Of course this is for all of us, but pre-eminently this is for Jesus, the man Jesus, crucified and pierced, but not broken.

After Jesus was put on the cross, and as the Passover Sabbath approached, the governors did not want any of the crucified criminals lingering, so the soldiers were instructed to hasten their dying process. The soldiers had orders to break Jesus’ bones.

But they did not. They took one long look at the dead man and knew he was gone. They pierced his side, but nothing more was necessary. They could see that he was dead.

Then Jesus’ resurrection came just a few short hours later. Death was barely even a waystation on his path. In Jesus’ life, death was swallowed up, defeated, made mute and irrelevant.

Once again I’m struck by God’s always-presence, both in the beginning, and then also … after the end. The troubles of a righteous man will certainly include his death, “but the Lord delivers him.”

With the gift of Jesus’ atonement, I am free to be with God forever and without end, in the beginning and after the end. For me too, death no longer wins. As Isaiah wrote,

“He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
He will swallow up death forever”
(Isaiah 25:7-8).
Lord when I encounter death you are with me. Let me walk through its impotence into the arms of my Father.



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