[The following devotional is a part of our 2015 Easter Season Devotional Book “Passion Road.” We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between February 18 – April 5, 2014.]
Crossing the Finish Line by Mark Robinson
Read: John 19:28-42
It was a cold, dark December morning in 2009. The wind was blowing out of the north driving the wind chills south. Along with a few friends, I was on a 20 mile run to Lake Hefner and back. My friends and I endured it because we were training for a marathon together. Running a marathon is an interesting experience. I like it because it feeds my desire for goal achievement. You don’t wake up today and decide to run a marathon tomorrow. You have to train for those events for months at a time.
On race day, there are tens of thousands of fellow runners and nearly 100,000 spectators, however, on cold December mornings, marathoners often find themselves alone. When you run like this, you are not racing against a competitor, you are playing a game with your mind. If you decide to cut a corner to shorten the distance, no one would ever know. If you decide to just stop running altogether, no one is there to call you a failure. Marathon runners choose to keep running because they want to finish the marathon. If corners are cut in training, a runner will never cross the finish line.
When Jesus came to the earth, He humbled Himself: the immortal God became clothed in mortality in Bethlehem’s manger. For 30+ years Jesus lived out His life on the earth while being confronted with a steady set of temptations. Jesus was “running” the marathon of life, knowing that at any moment, He could take the easy way out. Satan tempted Him to place His physical needs and desire for personal comfort over God’s will for His life: offering the crown without the cross. Jesus did not bite. He did not cut that corner. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion, He prayed asking that the “cup” of crucifixion might pass from Him (Luke 22:39-46). However, as that night turned into early morning, Jesus did not hit the snooze, but got up and walked forward in “Thy will” being done.
Jesus stayed the course because there was a finish line He wanted to cross. If Jesus had sinned with Satan or run away from the Garden of Gethsemane, He would have missed out on accomplishing His mission. Jesus came to the earth to live a perfect life and to die on the cross for our sins. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, the punishment He endured on the cross was not a penalty for His own transgressions. In the sovereign plan of God, the sin of mankind was placed on Jesus back and His righteousness has been offered to be credited to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21). If Jesus would have cut a corner and avoided the cross, then you and I would not have an opportunity to have our sins forgiven. However, Jesus endured to the finish line. At the point of His death, Jesus even cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). He knew that He had run the good race, and with His death purchased salvation for the souls of those who would embrace Him in faith. Cross(ing) the finish line at Golgotha was the ultimate accomplishment, but Jesus did not just wake up on Good Friday and decide the save the world.
- Have you ever stopped to realize that Jesus’s 30+ years of righteous living were necessary for our salvation? (If He had sinned in His life, He could not save us.)
- Thank Jesus in prayer for staying the course to finish “the race.”