What makes something your “finest hour”?
To answer that question, we first have to reach back to June 16, 1940, when that phrase was made famous in a speech by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
World War Two had begun the previous year. France, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands had all fallen under the jackboots of the Nazis. It was a dark time, and the only thing standing between Hitler and control of the rest of Europe was the island nation of Britain.
In this context, Churchill prepared his people for the immense sacrifices that would be asked of them in the coming battles. He told them that the survival of their nation and way of life lay at stake. He let them know the consequences both of success and of failure in the task ahead of them.
He concluded his speech with one of the great rallying cries in history:
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”
Churchill was telling the British people that their finest hour would not be a time of ease or comfort. Rather, it would encompass pain, sacrifice, duty, and selflessness.
The same holds true for us.
And the same held true for Jesus in His finest hour.
When we talk about someone’s “finest hour,” we’re usually not referring to a time in their life when everything is coming up roses for them. It’s not a time when they’re receiving accolades or awards.
That’s not what a “finest hour” looks like.
Rather, it looks like a mom or dad staying home to care for a disabled child, or an adult son or daughter quitting their job so they can look after an infirm parent.
It looks like a spouse working an extra job so their mate can go back to school and get a degree to advance their career.
It looks like volunteers spending their free time helping the downtrodden, the rejected, and the helpless.
It looks like a missionary spending decades in a foreign country, serving others and presenting the gospel to them.
Our finest hour always involves sacrifice on behalf of others.
So it was with Jesus.
His finest hour was on the Cross.
It involved immense emotional and physical pain, obedience to His Father’s will, and a willingness to give up everything to benefit others.
His atoning sacrifice gives us the chance to receive forgiveness for our sins, and to spend eternity with God in Heaven.
And He did it all for us, not for Himself.
Jesus so braced Himself to His duty and so bore Himself that two thousand years later people still say of His sacrifice on the Cross:
“This was His finest hour.”
© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.