Skip to main content

"Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit" -- Luke 23:46

Even though we now celebrate the season of resurrection, I thought I would share my reflections from last week's Trumbull Interfaith Committee's Good Friday Service. I was assigned Jesus' final word from the cross: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

It is the very end, the end of the ordeal, the end of the suffering. Jesus dies alone on the cross, tortured, exhausted, abandoned by his friends, forsaken by God, gasping for a last breath and gathering strength for one final cry. (1) Jesus dies with the words of Psalm 31 on his lips. However, he only quotes half the verse. In a loud voice Jesus says, “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” but he doesn’t say the second half of the verse: “Redeem me O Lord, God of truth.” The writer of Psalm 31 prays for deliverance from enemies, saying, “You, Lord, are God of the covenant. I trust you. Come, keep your promises, and rescue me.” Does Jesus have this in mind as speaks his final words?

We like to disinfect death. Go to a funeral, and death is discreetly mentioned. You remember the dead person’s life with an optimistic celebration. You get lively music, humor, and a nice spread of food. No one wants to think about that moment of death. The Lord’s death also gets sanitized. We are told that his last words are the final recommitment of his submission to the Father’s will. To the very end, Jesus persistently obeys God. But, what if his last words are really a final cry for help? What if Jesus is scared? What if he doubts? What if he thinks, “Father, I’m a good Son. I have always committed myself into your hands. Come and rescue me.” What if Jesus draws his final breath as a prayer for deliverance from death. And it doesn’t happen.

Or does it?

On Good Friday, there is no deliverance from death -- it’s not God’s way of doing things. God doesn’t deliver Jesus from death. God delivers Jesus through death. Christians need to wrestle with this just as Jesus did. We are not often rescued from life’s pain. However, as we struggle through the dark times, we announce our trust in a God who calls his sons and daughters to new life on the other side of death. (2)

“Into your hands I commit my Spirit.” Jewish mothers taught their children to pray these words before bed. As darkness fell, children learned to lay themselves before God. And on Good Friday, as darkness descends and the Son of God dangles on a cross, Jesus prays those memorable words and then dies like a child falling asleep in his parent’s arms. (3) Maybe in that moment Jesus knows he can trust in life beyond the grave.

How about you, Christian? Life pitches pain and doubt, and grief, and loss, and horror at us. What do you do when darkness falls and you face your deepest fears? What happens when you pray for relief, and it feels like God ignores your wounds? Hear the words of Christ. “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” His words are also our creed. They belong to the living as well as the dying. If we can’t learn to practice trusting God in the living of our lives, then we have not learned what it means to fully live. (4) It does take practice. Living a full life of trust and faith means seeing, and hearing, and feeling sure signs of God’s presence during life’s pain. Faith does not need to be the casualty of our woundedness. So, practice trusting in God. God promises to deliver his people through the darkness and into new life.

Sources:
(1) Good Friday Worship Service, The Seven Last Words, http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/a-gdfr-sn.php
(2) Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, WBC (Waco: Word, 1983), 263.
(3) William Barcaly, The Gospel of Luke (Edingurgh: St. Andrew, 1956), 301-302.
(4) William Mays (quoting John Calvin), Psalms (Louisville: Knox, 1989), 144.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sermon for March 12, 2017

The World Needs our Feet




Here are some of my favorite bumper stickers . . . · I’m not gaining weight, I’m retaining food!. · I brake for no apparent reason. · Forget about World Peace. Visualize using your turn signal. · He who laughs last, thinks slowest. · Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math. · Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. · I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you. · Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let him sleep. · Hard work pays off in the future. But laziness pays off right now. · It’s lonely at the top, but you eat better. · Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else. · There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can’t. · Do you follow Jesus this close?
Some bumper stickers are funny, some are informative, some make you think, others make you mad. In any case, they’re usually a reflection of direction the person in life is traveling. When it comes to bumper stickers, the words on the outside of a car are often an indicator …

Sermon for February 5, 2017

Orienteering 100: Finding the Morningstar

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star. Rev. 22:16

I can’t find my car anymore. It’s a new thing for me lately. I park somewhere in a large lot, like a mall, I go inside to shop, and when it’s time to go home, I can’t remember where I parked. I know the general vicinity where I parked, but it takes me a while to locate my car. The other night I was at the mall, and I could not find my way out of a department store. I knew about where my car was parked, but I could not find the door I entered the mall through. I ended up just going outside and walking the perimeter of the mall until I found where I parked. If it happened just once, I’d say it was a fluke. But, since it’s happened four or five times over the past two months, I think something is going on. I don’t think its dementia. I think it’s a crisis of awareness. Lately, m…

Sermon for January 15, 2017

Then Jesus Turned
The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following,…