The Glorious Paradox of the Cross

Posted: March 6, 2016 in John, Uncategorized

John 19:17-24, “The Glorious Paradox of the Cross”

We call something a “paradox” when a situation seems to be the opposite of its description.  Grammatically, it’s a statement that contradicts itself or seems to defy logic.  For instance, if a person says, “I always lie,” are they then telling the truth – or is that another lie?  For science-fiction fans, if a person travels back in time & kills his ancestor, how is he ever born in order to make the journey?  Paradoxes don’t make sense.  But sometimes, a paradox can be truly wonderful.  At first glance, the vicious death of the Son of God is the most tragic occurrence to ever take place by the hands of humanity – but at the same time, this is precisely how humanity can be saved.  Jesus’ death on the cross is a glorious paradox!

By the time of our text, Jesus had already suffered in horrendous ways, and He had not even yet been nailed to the cross.  The suffering had actually begun the night before, when He fervently prayed in the garden, asking His Father to take this cup away from Him as He sweat great drops of blood (Lk 22:44).  It continued with Judas’ betrayal, His abandonment by His disciples, and arrest by His own countrymen.  His suffering had been mainly emotional to that point, but it was during His kangaroo court in front of the Jewish priests that the beatings began, and things only got worse from there.  Jesus was eventually handed over to Pilate, who didn’t want any involvement in the whole façade, but was too corrupt and apathetic to actually do anything about it.  The Jews obviously wanted blood, so Pilate was happy to oblige.  He ordered the scourging of Jesus – which was illegal, considering that Jesus hadn’t yet been condemned to die via crucifixion.  At that point, the Jews still didn’t want Him, so Pilate allowed his soldier to abuse Him, and in a half-hearted attempt to avoid a mob, Pilate finally ordered Jesus’ crucifixion.

The rejection by the Jewish nation had been total.  According to John’s account, they had at least four opportunities to demonstrate some sort of mercy to Jesus, but they took none.  First they chose the murderous Barabbas over the Innocent Jesus.  They were told to “Behold the Man,” as humiliated as He was, and they still chanted for His death.  The Jews went so far as to threated Pilate himself with committing treason if he released Jesus, and then went beyond all imaginations and finally declared their allegiance to the Roman Caesar rather than the God-given King of the Jews.  They didn’t simply shut the door on Jesus; they slammed it in His face & double-bolted the lock.

Of course, none of this was a surprise.  All of it (including what we’ll see today) was foretold by God within the Scriptures.  The Jewish people were destined to reject their King – the Gentiles around Him were destined to abuse Him – Jesus Himself was destined to die.  Contrary to its outward appearance, this was not chaos; this was the determined plan of God.  And it is exactly that plan that made salvation possible.  The King of the Jews was crucified for all people – the Son of God suffered in horrendous ways – but the end result of it was wonderful.  It is the glorious paradox of the cross, and it is the only way anyone can be saved.  Looking back, we can see it for what it is – we can look upon our Jesus & believe.

We see the suffering of Jesus here in three ways: the cross, the crime, and the clothes…

John 19:17–24

  • The cross (17-18)

17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,

  • Due to paintings & movies, we often get a distorted picture of what really happened.  Crucifixes were obviously made in two pieces, and the vertical piece remained at the actual execution site.  When Jesus carried His cross, He didn’t drag a fully-assembled cross through the streets of Jerusalem – He carried the patibulum or horizontal crossbeam on His shoulders.  Not that only one beam made it any easier.  That alone weighed anywhere between 75-125 pounds, which would be heavy for anyone to carry any amount of distance.  Combine that with the fact that Jesus had been brutally scourged earlier that day & most likely lost copious amounts of blood (on top of having His back ripped open), carrying that raw, heavy beam of wood was painfully burdensome.
  • John records only the barest of details here.  Nothing is mentioned of Simon of Cyrene, though from the Synoptics we learn that Jesus was unable to carry His cross the entire distance to Golgotha.  Jesus is the Son of God, but physically speaking, He was just a man – not a superhero.  It ought to come as no surprise that between the physical shock, the blood loss, the pain, and the sheer exhaustion from the night’s events that Jesus no longer had the strength to bear up the wood.  The Roman soldiers simply grabbed the first person they saw & forced him to carry the crossbeam of Jesus the rest of the way.
  • It doesn’t sound very glamorous, does it?  It’s not supposed to.  Yet this is what it means to carry the cross.  And this is what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus.  Matthew 16:24–26, "(24) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (25) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (26) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"  So often, Christians quote a bit of what Jesus says, attributing it to all sorts of minor trivial things.  “Oh, my boss is so difficult…I guess I just need to carry my cross!” Or sometimes we pick something that’s hard (like enduring a disease, etc.), and label that as our “cross to bear.”  No.  One’s cross is something far more difficult than a difficult person or difficult situation.  Someone only picked up a cross when they were on their way to die.  The cross isn’t difficult; it’s execution.  When we pick up our cross to follow Jesus, it means we’re following Him to our death.  Our old ways & old preferences (our old flesh) has to die.  We die to self & live for Christ.  That is discipleship.
  • The actual place where Jesus died was well-known to the Jews of the day.  It was “the Place of the Skull, which is called in Hebrew [Aramaic] Golgotha.” The Greek term is Κρανιον ~ Cranium, which translated in to Latin is Calvaria ~ Calvary.  The place may have been well-known to the Jews, but it isn’t well-known to us today.  There are two common theories: (1) a site within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has the longest history dating back to the 2nd century, and (2) a site commonly known as Gordon’s Calvary or Skull Hill, which was proposed as a possibility in 1840.  One has the considerable weight of tradition behind it, though no special appearance; the other has a strong physical resemblance to a skull, though not much archaeological evidence.  Both would have been located outside the main city of Jerusalem at the time, so either is a possibility.
    • The bottom line in all this is that wherever the actual location of Golgotha, Jesus historically and factually died there.  It may be best that we do not know the precise location.  Too many people have already committed idolatry with the theoretical location; confirmation of it may be too much to bear.  We don’t worship the site; we worship the One who died upon it.

18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.

  • Crucified.”  Neither John nor the other gospel writers expand upon this word.  For them, it wasn’t necessary.  For the people who knew of the practice, the word itself was enough to strike terror into their hearts.  Further description would only dilute what they already knew to be true in the memories of what they saw.  For us, however, times are different.  Crosses for us have become casual pieces of jewelry or tattoos, worn by people who don’t even believe in Jesus.  To us, “crucified,” is just another word – perhaps we know it to be a method of ancient execution, but we don’t think too much more of it.  It’s like hanging or the guillotine – perhaps a bit gory, but antiquated & extinct.
  • If we truly want to understand the price of our salvation, then we need to educate ourselves, and that requires getting a bit uncomfortable.  To be crucified was not merely to be killed; it was to be tortured in one of the most horrendous & painful ways imaginable until death finally came as a sweet release from it all.  Think of it this way: to have one’s legs broken was an act of mercy, in that it caused someone to die quicker.  If that was a good thing, was does that say about the actual crucifixion itself?  David Guzik quotes Cicero writing of crucifixion: “It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an act of wickedness; to execute him is almost murder: What shall I say of crucifying him? An act so abominable it is impossible to find any word adequately to express.”  That’s what the Romans thought of it…it must have been bad.  Spikes 5-7 inches long & up to ¾ inch wide were driven between the two bones of the arm just below the wrist, directly piercing the median nerve, causing excruciating pain.  These were used to affix the arms in an outstretched position, while the knees were bent and the feet were often nailed between the metatarsal bones of the feet, which meant that the victim’s head was below his arms, ensuring extra stress & pressure.  Because of the position, the victim would have to push himself upright in order to breath, causing increased pressure on all of the nails as well as scraping the rough wood against his raw back. 
  • It was the agony of breathing that eventually caused death.  The nail wounds and the rest were certainly traumatic, but they were just the torture that made suffocation possible.  With as hard as it was to take every breath (much less release it), breathing was shallow & like sucking through a sponge.  Add to that the exposure from being stripped naked, insects flocking to the wounds, and whatever else Jesus suffered from the crown of thorns & other tortures that day, and His remaining existence was truly horrifying.
  • Christian – brothers & sisters – this is what our Lord Jesus did for us.  The cross of Christ is no casual thing.  It was the brutal method of His execution.  And He didn’t deserve it…we did.  Notice there were two other crosses beside Him that day.  Jesus’ cross was originally scheduled for Barabbas – Jesus had become His substitute.  Jesus’ cross was meant for us.  That was the common method of execution for those who committed crimes against the Roman Empire.  We have committed crimes against a far higher Authority, and we deserve far worse than what the Romans originally planned for Barabbas.  And Jesus took it.  He substituted Himself for us upon that cross.  He bore our agony – He bore our punishment – He bore the full onslaught of the wrath of God in our place, in order that we might be free. Isaiah 53:4–6, "(4) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. (5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
  • The crime (19-21)

19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS

  • That Pilate wrote “a title” (a sign) is not unusual.  It was fairly common to broadcast the crime that led to a person’s execution.  What was striking was how the crime was worded.  Each of the four gospels record the inscription differently, though never with contradiction.  Put it all together, and the title read: “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  Remember that Jesus had been specifically rejected as king by the Jews, so it seems likely that Pilate was thumbing his nose a bit at the Jewish priests.  If they wanted Jesus treated no different than any other challenger to Caesar, then so be it.  He’d receive the title appropriate to the crime.  Whatever Pilate’s motives may have been, what he had written was absolutely true.  He could not have been more accurate if he tried.  Jesus of Nazareth IS the King of the Jews!
  • That Jesus was from the town of Nazareth emphasizes His humanity and incarnation.  The Son of God put on flesh to dwell among us, and lived as a normal man for most of the 33 years of His life.  The bulk of His earthly life was spent in a nondescript Jewish town, and He was just a nice, but nondescript guy.  Even His name and occupation were common: Jesus – Yeshua – Joshua.  This was Josh the carpenter, who just happened to be the nicest, godliest guy you ever met.
  • At the same time, this humble carpenter had a royal birthright.  He was directly descended from the kingly lineage of David, and born in David’s own city.  He was the rightful King of the Jews, fully deserving of all the trappings and luxury of born royalty.  More than that, according to the ancient promise made by God to David, this eventual son of his would truly be the Son of God.  This Man deserved more than a bow to royalty – He deserved worship as God.  Truly that was what was owed to this King of the Jews!
  • Yet the Jews rejected their King – which is why Jesus was delivered over to Pilate and hung upon the cross at all.  The crime Jesus committed was being the King of the Jews.  He was the King they needed, but He wasn’t the King they wanted.  They saw His miracles, heard His teaching, and instead of flocking to the True Shepherd, they revolted against Him, and the Shepherd became the lamb of sacrifice.  The King was placed upon the cross, and He died the death of a traitor…exactly what it was the Jewish people deserved against Him.
  • They may have rejected Jesus as King, but it doesn’t change the fact that He IS King.  And one day, they will see Him as such.  One day their blindness will be removed, and they will look upon Him whom they pierced – one day all of Israel will be saved! (Zech 12:10, Rom 11:25-26)  They will see Him as their King, and worship!  (May that day come quickly!)
    • Their opportunity is our opportunity as well.  We also have the chance to see Jesus now as our King – for that is who He is.  Whether we recognize Him or not, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is the Son of God who died for you upon the cross, taking your punishment in your place.  So see Him as your King – believe upon Him & be saved!

20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

  • The title was obviously public, in that it was affixed above Jesus’ head on the cross.  Thus it was read by all who passed by.  Crucifixion was done outside the city walls, but never too far away.  The Romans intended crucifixion to be a warning to the rest of the people, so they wanted the public to see the agony of the condemned.  Thus many people would see the sight, and whoever was literate would be able to read what was written.
  • Pilate included every language in the land: Hebrew (which was likely John’s gloss for Aramaic), Greek, and Latin.  Aramaic was the common language of the people – a close cousin to Hebrew, the religious language of the priests.  Greek was the common language of the empire, the one used in matters of commerce, philosophy, and academia.  Latin was the language of the government, used in all civil and military matters.  Every sphere of influence imaginable was addressed.  All the world could know that Jesus of Nazareth is the King of the Jews, and that He was being killed upon the cross.
    • The King of the Jews is also the King of the world.  When Jesus died upon the cross, He did not do so only for the sins of the Jewish people; He did so for the sins of all humanity.  All of us find our salvation in the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus…but we must respond to Him in faith.  Our faith doesn’t change the fact of whether or not Jesus IS the King, but it does change whether or not He is OUR King.  All of humanity will be judged by this King one way or the other, but you will either be seen as one of His subjects, or one of His enemies.  Do you know that you belong to Jesus?  There is one way to be sure: believe!
  • Intentionally or not, Pilate told the world about the King of the Jews. The world still needs to be told of its King…and we’re the ones to tell them!  Beloved, this is what the Great Commission is all about: witnessing to the world of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews who has become the King of the Universe.  If you can point someone to the cross, you can point them to Jesus.  Go and tell the news!

21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

  • The priests were obviously offended by the title sign Pilate had inscribed.  After bothering him all morning in their nagging attempts to have him crucify Jesus, they nagged him once more about the sign.  They wanted the “official” record corrected, or at least clarified.  Why?  (1) They didn’t want to admit the truth.  Between the Pharisees and the chief priests, they had seen more than enough evidence that Jesus is in fact the Christ, the King of the Jews.  They simply didn’t like the conclusion.  If they wanted a king, they didn’t want Jesus.  He hadn’t come according to their preferences.  Although He came according to Scripture, He hadn’t come according to their interpretations, and thus they deemed Him unacceptable.  (As if man has the right to tell God Almighty was is/is not acceptable!)  (2) They didn’t want others to know the truth.  Thus far, they were able to convince the mobs outside to turn against Jesus, but what would they think when reading the sign?  Would they become confused?  Would some of them come to the realization that even Rome acknowledged Jesus as the King of the Jews, and then perhaps put their faith in Him?  The priests couldn’t have that…so they called for Pilate to change the sign.
    • The very thing Jesus had accused the Pharisees of, they were proving true.  They were hypocrites, shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither going it nor allowing others to ender (Mt 23:13).  It was bad enough they rejected Jesus – but they didn’t want anyone else to have faith in Him either!
    • There will always be some who rail against the gospel, attempting to convince people not to believe.  Don’t listen to their distortions of the truth – look upon Jesus with your own eyes!  See through the lens of history & the Scripture what it is He has done for you, and who He is.  See the fact of His resurrection from the dead, and draw your own conclusion about Him.  Who else could He be, other than God Himself?
  • Despite all the nagging of the priests, Pilate didn’t care.  He brushed off their concerns, being unwilling to change the title sign.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  This wasn’t faith on the part of Pilate; this was simple stubbornness.  If Pilate truly believed & understood what it was he had written, he would have personally pulled Jesus off that cross with his bare hands.  Pilate no doubt knew that Jesus was innocent, and who knows what Pilate thought about Jesus’ claim to being king – but Pilate certainly didn’t believe that Jesus was the true Christ, the Son of God.  Pilate may have had the right words, but he didn’t have the right heart.  True faith is a combination of both.
  • In regards to the sign itself, Pilate’s decision was final.  Why?  Because the judgment had been written.  What was written, was written.  It would not be altered.  Final judgments are just that: final.  The time to appeal to a judge is before the order is given; not after.
    • What is true in a civil court is infinitely more so in regards to God.  We will face a final judgment.  All of humanity will line up before the enthroned Son of God, and will face a judgment based upon what is written in a book.  Will your name be found written in the Book of Life, or will your judgment be based upon the crimes you have committed against God?  The time to appeal to God is now; not after the judgment has been made!
  • The clothes (23-24)

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. …

  • The picture is so callous & so cruel.  Jesus is not yet dead, and already the soldiers are dividing up His belongings.  But of course, that is the sad point: to them, Jesus was as good as dead.  He would never need these clothes again.  (Three days later, Jesus would be clothed…in glory!)  Again, it wasn’t only the Jews who treated Jesus shamefully; it was the Gentiles as well.  ALL nations are implicated in the death of the Lord Jesus.
  • As sad the picture was, it wasn’t unusual in the slightest.  This was part of the soldier’s payment for the day.  The four soldiers present (a quaternion) were responsible for carrying out the grisly duties of crucifixion, and they were supervised by a centurion.  The clothing of the condemned served as a bit of a financial bonus for the executioners.  They were able to divide up the headgear, belt, sandals, and outer garment among themselves.  However, there was one piece they could not divide…

…Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” …

  • Many people have made an issue of Jesus’ tunic, noting that it was too valuable to tear into pieces.  However, there’s no indication that the tunic was something luxurious or special.  Despite the claims of the prosperity preachers, Jesus’ tunic was not a sign that He was rich or had expensive clothing given Him.  It’s just that a ripped tunic doesn’t do anyone any good.  Each of the soldiers could take home a single item of clothing for themselves, but Jesus had five items of clothing; not four.  What use would a fourth of a tunic serve?  Better to find a fair way to give it out than to take home a shredded up shirt.  Thus they made the decision to “cast lots for it,” or to throw dice.
  • So what?  So it fulfills prophecy…

…that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.

  • What itself seemed to be a random event – the luck of the draw – was anything but.  It was a spot-on fulfillment of prophecy, written 1000 years earlier.  Everything that happened to Jesus that day was foretold in the Scriptures, right down to the detail of what happened to His clothing.  Psalm 22:14–18, "(14) I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. (15) My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. (16) For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; (17) I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. (18) They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots."  The anguished opening words of Psalm 22 were actually quoted by Jesus while hanging from the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  The entire psalm of David, written hundreds of years prior to the development of Roman crucifixion, goes on to perfectly describe crucifixion from a 1st hand perspective.  Specifically, it describes Jesus’ crucifixion.  What would have been too agonizingly painful to declare in detail from the cross, God had written centuries earlier through the pen of prophecy.  Jesus was indeed poured out like water, having no strength left in His body to pull Himself upright.  His bones were violently thrown out of their joints & sockets when the crucifix vertically fell into the ground.  His heart felt immense physical pressure as it & His lungs gradually filled with fluid.  Jesus suffered weakness, shock, immense thirst, and the hatred of His own countrymen.  His hands and feet were literally pierced through with iron spikes, and as He hung upon the cross His bones protruded visibly.  And yes, His clothes were divided up & gambled for.
  • What (if anything) from all of this could have been forcibly manipulated by Jesus or the disciples?  Nothing!  When we say that Jesus fulfills prophecy, some people assume that Jesus purposefully did things in certain ways trying to make it appear as if prophecy was being fulfilled, when in reality it was all a pretense.  Not so with Jesus!  There was indeed purposeful fulfillment of prophecy, but it was all guided by the hand of God, being impossible to manipulate by the hands of men.  How can someone dictate the terms of his death, apart from suicide?  Much less, how can someone force soldiers to gamble for his clothes, while helplessly hanging in agony from a cross?  It cannot be done.  This was not a pretense of prophecy; this was the reality & fulfillment of it.  God absolutely knew what was going to happen, and He foretold it in His word.
  • That tells us two things. First, it tells us that Bible prophecy is valuable.  Human prophecy is a dime-a-dozen, and unless it is truly given by the Holy Spirit, it’s entirely worthless.  Anyone can get on TV and claim whatever they want, but they cannot make it come true.  Only God knows the future, and only God’s word regarding the future can be trusted.  Thus, if we want to know what the future holds, where can we turn?  The written word of God.  God’s word has already been proven true in abundance – over 300 prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus alone, not to mention any of the other myriad of prophecies already fulfilled throughout the history of the Jewish people.  God’s word has proven unfailingly reliable in the past; it will continue to prove reliable in the future.  The only sure guide to future events is the word of God.
  • Secondly, it tells us that God is sovereign.  In the midst of perceived chaos, God was in control the entire time.  Think about it: from the outside, it would have appeared to been the complete and utter defeat of Jesus.  The priests may have jockeyed back & forth with Pilate on the details, but it was Jesus who was crucified to death.  The people saw the influence of the priests & the sheer power of the empire of Rome.  Rome had the power to destroy any competitor to Caesar, even the purported King of the Jews – humiliating Him in the worst possible ways.  That’s what it looked like on the outside, but that wasn’t the reality.  This was not crushing defeat; this was the precursor to total victory.  This was not the whim of Rome; this was the plan of God.  This was not chance happenstance; this was prophecy fulfilled.  God was supreme over the Jews, over Rome, and over the world itself.  The proof could be seen even in the tiniest details – even as Jesus’ clothes were being gambled away, God was sovereign.
    • God was sovereign then; God is sovereign now.  Do you believe it?  Do you trust in the sovereignty of God at all times?  The times when it is most difficult to believe God’s sovereignty are the times it is most important to do so.  When the world is at its most chaotic is when we need to know that God is in command.  He is!  Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without our Father in heaven knowing it (Mt 10:29).  He knows what happens to us, and He is sovereign over it all.
    • That’s not to say that all things are God’s desired will for us.  Some things are truly bad, just as the events of the cross were truly evil and carried out by sinful men against Jesus.  But God does not abandon us during those times.  God does not waste those times.  For those who love God & who are called according to His purposes, God has a plan to use those times for good & for His glory (Rom 8:28).  This is where our trust in God becomes practical.  How do we endure the times of chaos?  By placing ourselves in the hands of the God who is in control.

When it came to the cross, it was simultaneously awful and awesome.  It was horrendous and tremendous.  It was where our Lord suffered the most, yet accomplished the most.  It showed the King crucified, yet never defeated.  Truly it was a glorious paradox!

There’s no doubt that the cross itself was suffering in the worst possible way.  Physically speaking, it was one of the most horrific things ever dreamt up in the perverse imaginations of men.  Yet it was to that extent that God the Son humbled Himself.  Jesus did not merely die for our sins; He died the death of the cross.

The crime for which Jesus died was that of being the King.  Pilate may have meant it as a taunt, but it was the truth.  Jesus is the King of the Jews who is also the King of the world, and one day every eye will see Him for who He is.

The clothes that were gambled away would have appeared to have been a random act of chaos, but in reality it was the confirmation of God’s sovereign command.  Everything that happened to Jesus happened according to the prophetic plan of God.  His death was not random, nor was it wasted.  It was done purposefully, and it did exactly what it was intended to do.

The best part about the events of that day is that they were temporary.  Jesus suffered upon the cross, but He no longer suffers.  He was rejected by the Jews & humiliated by the Gentiles, but He lives in victory today.  Today, everyone has the opportunity to see Him as He truly is: not as a dead rejected pretender to the throne, but as the Victorious Messiah – the Son of God.  The cross was temporary; His victory is forever!


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