"He will not let your foot slip..." Psalm 121.3
What a nail-biter. Fresh from their historic defeat of England at Twickenham, expectations clearly hung heavily upon Scotland's shoulders as they made a jittery start against Wales at Murrayfield yesterday afternoon, conceding an early penalty. But they soon found their stride, the magic flowed and they looked on course for a convincing victory. Then Wales rallied, ran in some spectacular tries and it was game-on... A thrilling exchange followed with each side taking the lead and then losing it. In the event Wales edged home by a single point.
I suspect that in many Scottish minds there was a sense of inevitability to all this. Does that betray a fatalistic attitude? Possibly, we are (in)famous in our own heads for our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But then our bards are equally (in)famous for transforming these crushing disappointments into heroic gestures. You could say that we have perfected the consolatory mindset!
But all of that falls well short of what really matters. If Jesus had faltered in the desert and given in to Satan's temptation, if he had capitulated to the demands of those who wanted him to lead a popular insurrection against Rome, if he had conceded the cup of suffering and opted for a quiet life instead... he might have been accorded a footnote in history as another heroic failure but there would be no Gospel, no Church, no hope.
It was indeed a nail-biter. Yet Jesus' death on the cross clinched victory - over sin, death and the devil. His glorious resurrection and ascension sealed the new life everlasting, which is the inheritance of our trust in him. And his promised return in glory fuel a faith that will never die and a hope which is equal to the challenges of today and tomorrow. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!