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Good Friday Reflection

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching with the pastoral team this morning on Christ’s crucifixion. Each of us took a passage from Luke 23. I loved hearing the different voices – but was also interested in the strands that were held together in the reflections and music. I thought it was cool that God had orchestrated the many people involved in such a way that without sharing what we were focusing on, the reflections blended nicely. Anyways, here is mine!

Luke 23:44-49

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[a] When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Throughout this week, I have been thinking about the quiet trust of small children. I used to nanny a very young boy and often had the task of preparing him to sleep. As he would fall asleep in my arms, I would reflect on the privilege of having this child’s trust. He would surrender himself to sleep as I sang lullabies to him. Sometimes he would resist sleep, but eventually tiredness would win out and he would close his eyes.

The words of Jesus on the cross that Luke records make me think of the quiet trust of a child. Jesus says “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit ” and breathes his last breath. This trust and surrender to the Father’s will meant that Jesus was utterly obedient – even to death on a cross.

He was quoting Psalm 31 which in some Jewish circles would have been a bedtime lullaby of sorts, read each night as one surrenders his or her self to vulnerable sleep.

I wonder how many lines of this psalm Jesus had as He placed His spirit in God’s hands?

Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,

    for you are my refuge.

Jesus had performed a multitude of miracles, demonstrating that even raising the dead was within his power. At the beginning of his ministry, he was tempted by the devil to use his powers in order to gain glory on his own accord and not by humbly submitting to God’s will. Perhaps the final temptation Jesus faced was to escape death and what lay beyond death.

Instead, Jesus says “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;

    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,

    my soul and body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish

    and my years by groaning;

my strength fails because of my affliction,[b]

    and my bones grow weak.

I cannot even begin to fathom the amount of pain Jesus experienced in the journey to the cross let alone the cross itself. I imagine in those final moments on the cross his soul and body were consumed by distress, sorry, anguish and groaning.

And in the midst of such affliction, Jesus cries out: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

11 Because of all my enemies,

    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors

and an object of dread to my closest friends—

    those who see me on the street flee from me.

Besides excruciating physical pain, Jesus had been mocked and rejected by the very people He came to serve and to save. Even his closest friends abandoned him in his time of need. Luke tells us that even the women stood at a distance.

And as those who mock him and those who flee – Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Like a sleeping baby, Jesus moves into the sleep of death trusting His father. Unlike the baby, Jesus gives up his spirit in obedience to God’s will – knowing what lies ahead. Jesus who has the power to change the events submits and gives up His own life – demonstrating ultimate trust in God the Father.

As we reflect on Christ’s work on the cross, may we each grow closer to being able to echo Jesus words with trust and obedience:

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Amen.

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