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It was the gall mixed into the wine that made it so bitter. Appropriate as it was for this horrific moment, He did not drink.
They were killing Him, via one of the cruelest forms of execution man has ever dreamed up-—terribly bloody, terribly painful. And crucifixion was a public show that sometimes dragged on for hours or days with no respite for the condemned, only shame, and pain, and horror.
His time among these dreamers had been mixed, as any human life is, with joy and sorrow, triumph and setback, friendship and betrayal.
He had healed the sick, restored sight and hearing, even raised the dead, only to be discarded in favor of a murderer. Where was the gratitude, the loyalty that He deserved?
He had fed thousands, and had spoken to thousands more, changing lives through His words, only to have ugly jeering words and insults hurled back at Him while He suffered.
Even His disciples, so sure of His identity as a political savior only days ago, were now mostly scattered, with just a few courageous followers still present at the foot of the cross, with Him to the very end.
To the bitter end, one would guess. No one escaped the cross and no one lived through it, so His death was inevitable. For the faithful, it must have seemed an unfair and pointless ending to a life that had held so much promise. Why would God have done so much and brought them so far, only to abandon them, and Him, to this bitter disappointment?
It was the gall, so pungent, that ruined what might have been the last earthly sweetness Jesus had the chance to experience, they assumed, before He gave Himself over to death. One more utterance, “It is finished,” then He was gone.
Gall mixed with wine, acrid mixed with sweet--one final cruelty for Jesus to suffer before the end.
The end from the human perspective, that is.
But from heaven’s point of view, death, though bitter, was NOT the end.
In the case of Jesus, death wasn’t even permanent.
Early on the Sunday morning following His Friday crucifixion, the news spread like wildfire, starting with what an angel proclaimed from an empty tomb: “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.”
The scattered followers began to regroup, and Jesus appeared to them over a period of forty days. They were convinced, finally! Jesus was not just a prophet, or a good teacher, He was the Son of God, and He was (and is) God.
After those forty days, He ascended (right before their eyes!), and they were promised that He would return in the same way.
He is now, even today, alive, and at the right hand of the Father, having achieved the sweetest victory possible over the bitterness of death.
The gall. The ruinous gall is gone for good, and has been replaced by honey, from the very honeycombs of heaven.
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