India had to come up with the best ever chase done in a World Cup Final--overhaul Sri Lanka's 274--to win the Cup. Sehwag, first and Sachin, later, got out cheaply. India's score stood at 31 when Sachin, just one ton short of his 100th, got out. When Virat Kohli after a fighting 83 run partnership with Gambhir got out, India were in real danger, danger of losing the World Cup, danger of not becoming the first ever team to win a World Cup at home. That's when Captain M. S. Dhoni stepped in. He volunteered to bat at No.5. He could have stayed back and sent the in-form Yuvraj into the tension-filled middle. But he marched out of the Indian dressing room to bat when India still needed 161 runs to win in the 22nd over (161 from 170 balls, to be precise). In his previous eight innings Dhoni played leading up to the final, he had scored a grand total of just 150! Yet he backed himself. He volunteered to go up the batting order when India were in a crisis. He stuck his neck out saying, "I will do this for India!" In the middle, he was sweating, he was blowing his running nose and he received treatment for his back. But he kept going. He was the calmest soul in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, when he hit the Cup-winning six for India with 10 balls to spare. And India were home. Quite memorably!
You and I are in danger, the danger of living a life of hell (life without purpose, meaning and real joy, a life in which we are empty despite having everything) and going to a literal hell (a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth forever, a place which Jesus spoke about 8 times). That's when Jesus stepped in. Jesus could have stayed back in heaven and sent someone else to save us from going to hell. He did not. In eternity past, there was a meeting held in heaven. In that meeting Jesus stood up. "I will go, Father! Just give Me a body! I will get into it, become a human, go to the earth and die for the human race. I will march down the Calvary route and open a doorway to save the human race!" (My imagination based on Psa.40:6-8.) He came down and became a man. He chose to swim the amniotic fluids of Mary, rather than swim in the praises of angels and cherubs in heaven. God took on flesh and bone. Yes, He did it for you. Yes, He did it for me. For everyone. When He was stopped from the cross-route, He was determined to keep going (Lk.9:51). He called 'Devil' the one who tried to discourage Him from walking down the road to Golgotha. On the road to the cross, Jesus endured infinitely more discomfort than Dhoni did in the World Cup Finals. Jesus endured the following 12 's' things to win the only true salvation offer for you. Here they are:
1. Sold. Judas sold priceless Jesus for a price that was less than the price of a man 20 to 60 years old (Lev.27:3). We sell Jesus even today when our friends apply peer pressure on us, don't we? 2. Sweat. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated blood (Lk.22:44). This happens only when a person experiences highest tension. That punishment would have been apt for a pleasure-lover. But Jesus took it upon Himself. 3. Strapped. Jesus was rope-bound before the High Priest (Jn.18:12). Jesus was dying for a poison-bound generation, a generation bound to drugs, alcohol and Facebook! 4. Spat Upon. This happened twice (Matt. 26:67; 27:30). Only an irresponsible husband was to be spat upon (Deut.25:9). We were irresponsible when it came to using what God had given us and the punishment went to Jesus. 5. Slapped. He was slapped by the High Priest's servant (Matt. 26:67). His sinless mouth was hit hard. The reason-He was dying for a human race that consistently uses its mouth to sin, by lying, using abusive language. 6. Scourged. When Jesus was whipped, His back became like a ploughed field with strips of flesh hanging loose. Only the back of fools was to be whipped (Pro.19:29). We were foolish to race behind temporary worldly pleasures (Heb.11:25) ignoring the eternal pleasures at the right hand of Jesus (Psa.6:11), and the punishment for that sin went to Jesus. 7. Stripped. To make fun of Him, He was also clothed in purple colour too (Matt.27:28). He was dying for a generation that takes pleasure in making fun of others, while the affected live in excruciating pain. 8. Splinter-pressed. The thorns were pressed on His head. It was you and me who had a big proud head. Those thorns should have come upon us, but Jesus, in His great love, took it upon Himself. 9. Shamed. The cross punishment was akin to being urinated upon in public those days (Phil.2:8). 10. Spiked. Nails were thrashed on to His two hands and legs. Those nails should have gone on our hands-we sinned against Him with our hands and legs, sins such as cigar-smoking, masturbation while porn-watching, fondling, and walking into an adult movie show. But Jesus took our place on the cross. He was our substitute (Isa.53:4,5; Gal.2:19,20). The nails did not hold Him to the cross. Love did. He could have ripped them off and come down when He was challenged and scoffed at. But He stayed on because He loved you. 11. Separated. God turned His face away from Him as all of our sins were placed upon Jesus. With His Heavenly Father, Jesus was ever so close, and this separation was heart-breaking for Jesus, and so He cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" He became lonely in order to lift the loneliness in your life, the loneliness that comes even when you are rubbing shoulders with your friends in a packed party. 12. Speared. This treatment was given to Him, even after He was dead (Jn.19:34). The final blood drops in His body came out then. Every drop says, "I love you!" Only this blood can cleanse you from every sin!
How do you respond to His great love so supremely demonstrated (Rom.5:8)? You could, in stone-hearted stubbornness, press the nails onto His hands a bit deeper, by continuing to live in sin. You could press down the thorn crown on His head roughly and crudely, once more, in rebellion, by continuing to flirt with the Devil and the world. That's one way to respond. Or will you, repent like one of the dying thieves beside Jesus on the cross? And would you believe on Him (He who is alive today, He who is coming back), like the Roman centurion who screamed, "This is indeed the Son of God!"? The choice is yours.