Friday, April 14, 2017

"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit": A Good Friday Reflection

These are the last words that Jesus speaks aloud before his last breath. He speaks them not softly, not with a shaky whisper I would expect to come from the mouth of one who has hung for hours on the cross as insults are hurled and followers weep, as the weight of all the world's sin, of my own sin, crushes him.

No, Luke tells us he says these words with a loud voice, to be heard (for our benefit) and perhaps, I like to think, as a defiant shout against death itself as the sun pulls back its warmth and the curtain of the temple is split. Jesus leans in to his last words, a final intimate and yet public offering of himself to the Father with whom he has been present from the beginning: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

As was planned from the beginning, Jesus has experienced the physical, spiritual and mental anguish of accusation and abandonment. Still, he knows and clings to his identity as the beloved Son of God, clings to the truth of God as his loving Father whose very hands had woven his body together in Mary's womb, hands that embrace tenderly and judge justly. Even as death presses in for its final blow, Jesus' thoughts are on his Father's hands. Jesus echoes the Psalmist's words, here, leaving unspoken the attached implication of deep trust and hope that the God of truth will redeem him. It's the same Psalm where those who hope in the Lord are told to "Be strong and take heart."

These are words I could stand to say on a daily, perhaps hourly, basis as words of destruction and death reaches my own ears. As realization of my own sin, the sin that held him there, bruises my own heart.

As always, Jesus leads the way for us even in his final words. Into what better place can we commit our spirits than into the very hands of the one who created us in His image?