The seventh word from the Cross – Into your hands I commend my spirit – J. Barry Vaughn – Good Fri – Apr. 19, 2019

April 19, 2019

The seventh word from the Cross – Into your hands I commend my spirit – J. Barry Vaughn – Good Fri – Apr. 19, 2019

The seven sayings of Jesus on the cross conclude with our Lord commending himself into the hands of his Father: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

 

In despair he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” but at the end he entrusted himself to his loving Father.

 

My friend, Peter Gomes, wrote:

 

When Jesus quoted Psalm 22, he addressed the Holy One as “God,” but at the end he calls God “Father.” “As the end came in sight he addressed the Great One as “Father,” a term of intimacy. That is how he taught us to pray, “Our Father…” It is a term of proximity and familiarity. So the first sign of confidence… is the very word with which he begins this final sentence…. He has confidence in the one who holds his life, past, present, and future, and he knows that [God] not as the unmoved mover, not as the ground of being, not as the author of our past, present, and future design, but as “Father.” (Gomes, Growing Up, p. 209)

 

The Christian faith teaches us that in some sense, Jesus was bearing all the sins, the brokenness, the ugliness of all humanity, so when he commends himself to God, he is also commending all of us, all that is good in us and all that is broken in us, all that we love and all that we hate, all that we display to the world and all that we hide in the darkest corner of our hearts.  So when we are in extremis, in our last moment, in our time of despair, we can stop hanging on, cease our self-justification, stop grasping the lies we tell about ourselves and to ourselves, and trust that Jesus has done for us what we could not do for ourselves: He has made peace with God for us. Indeed, he IS our peace.

 

Make no mistake: Jesus did not die on a pristine, beautiful altar between two silver candlesticks; he died on a trash heap between two thieves, put to death in the most brutal way possible by a corrupt empire aided by the religious establishment. But when he breathed his last, when he let go, he did not fall into an empty, meaningless abyss; he fell into the “everlasting arms” of his Father.

 

As the old gospel song says,

 

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

 

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

 

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