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April 18, 2014

"Your hour... My hour"

"This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53 KJV)

An hour can change everything; the hour when you got your first job, when you got married, when the ambulance came for you! But the hour that split history had been foreseen by Jesus during all his ministry. He would talk of 'my hour' that still lay ahead (John 12:27). Then, on the night of his arrest, he told his enemies that this was 'your hour.' But there were different facets to that 'hour' of the Cross.

1. It was the hour when accident and design converged. It looked like an hour of tragedy, marked by deceit and treachery, and yet this was "by God's set purpose and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:24), Christ being 'the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world' (Revelation 13:8).

2. It was the hour when evil and good clashed. "Your hour, My hour." The Cross represented the high watermark of human sin; an execution with no proper charge, with false witnesses and no real sentence. And yet this was the hour when eternal salvation would be achieved for all who in centuries to come would follow Christ. We call it Good Friday.

3. It was the hour when defeat and victory coincided. It was 'your' hour, but it was only an hour! The Cross marked the summit of evil, but also its limit. In the very moment of apparent defeat, there lay blinding victory. Satan's kingdom was based upon the naked power to GRAB. Christ's is characterised by the very opposite; an outreach in generous, self-giving GRACE. The kingdom of darkness was doomed from that 'hour' onwards (Colossians 2:15).

As Augustine said, "What a death, that gave death its death-blow!"