Monday, April 6, 2020

Christ & the Coronavirus Holy Week | 7 Last Words from the Cross: Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit




“Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit.”


Previous Seven Last Words from the Cross Posts:

+ Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do 
Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise 
Woman Behold Your Son 
My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? 
I Thirst 
It Is Finished

Final Words Focus

“Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit.”


Luke 23:44-46

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last.

Final Reflection Readings

Jesus began His time on the cross praying to His Father. We should, therefore, not be surprised as His death draws near that He again prays as only the Son of God can pray. He prays to the Father.

We are told in John 1:18 that without the Son no one can see the Father. Hans Von Balthasar, therefore, reminds us "when the Son, the Word of the Father is dead, then no one can see God, hear of Him or attain Him. And this day exists, when the Son is dead, and the Father, accordingly, inaccessible. This is the terror, the silence of the Father, to which Jesus has committed Himself, this is why He cried the cry of abandonment. He has commended Himself to the Father so He might for us undergo the dark night of death.

Only the Son of God is capable of this task, that is, to submit fully to death and yet redeem the destruction death names. This great work makes possible our baptism into His life and into His death. By giving Himself up and commending His Spirit to the Father, Jesus invites and enables us to give ourselves up and become "united with Him in a death like His" (Romans 6:5).

+ Stanley Hauerwas, Cross-Shattered Christ 

The atonement drama has only two actors: the one triune God and us. And it is God who bears in Himself the consequences of our sin. God puts Himself in our place on the cross. He does not "punish somebody else instead." It was God's self-substitution in our place through His own Son. "God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:19). The Bible sometimes expresses this with balancing statements, and we need to take both side of the balance seriously.

So, for example, we know that the cross was God's will (Acts 2:23). Yes, but Jesus also said, "My food (will) is to do the will of Him who sent Me" (John 4:34, emphasis mine). Isaiah 53:6 says that "the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Yes, but Peter also adds, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross" (1 Peter 2:24). John tells us that "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son" (John 3:16, emphasis mine). Yes, but Paul adds, "The Son of God ...  loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, emphasis mine). The Father's plan and the Son's actions go together in perfect harmony.

The book The Cross of Christ by John Stott is a classic. In one section, he discusses exactly this point, and he said it far better than I can:

We have no liberty ... to imply either that God compelled Jesus to do what He was unwilling to do Himself, or that Jesus was an unwilling victim of God's harsh justice. Jesus Christ did indeed bear the penalty of our sins, but God was active in and through Christ doing it, and Christ was freely playing His part (e.g. Hebrews 10:5-10). ... We must never make Christ the object of God's punishment or God the object of Christ's persuasion, for both God and Christ were subjects not objects, taking the initiative together to save sinners. Whatever happened on the cross in terms of "God-forsakenness" was voluntarily accepted by both in the same holy love which made atonement necessary. ... The Father did not lay on the Son an ordeal He was reluctant to bear, nor did the Son extract from the Father a salvation he was reluctant to bestow. There is no suspicion anywhere in the New Testament of discord between the Father and the Son. ... There was no unwillingness in either. On the contrary, their wills coincided in the perfect self-sacrifice of love.

Never separate the Father and the Son in your understanding of the cross. They were as one in Christ's death as they were one in His life. 

+ Christopher J.H. Wright, To the Cross

"The Christian life is lived in between My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me? and Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." So in this last saying from the Cross, Luke is teaching us how to die and how to live. In Jesus' suffering, we find our redemption. In Jesus' abandonment, we find our acceptance. In His being forsaken and condemned, we find our freedom and salvation. And at last we are able to say even in the midst of doubt and perplexity, Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit, even as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said.

Anyone who has read this far has stayed with our Lord on the Cross for some special reason. God has His hand on you in some way. You can trust that. Even as you listen, you can give yourself up in this hour to the prayer of our Redeemer and commit yourself to our Father through Christ. The hymn, "Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured" repeats in the refrain: Thou didst give Thyself for me. Now I give myself to Thee. You can make these words your own in this very hour. Your crucified Lord holds out His arms to you in love that will not let you go. Will you receive Him and His gift of salvation for you?

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