Good Friday – 29 March 2024

Luke 13:46

‘Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.’

We hear these final words on all that Jesus ever did and said in his brief but brilliant and often bamboozling life. This is the full stop.

‘Father, into your hand I commit me”.

This gets me thinking. What would be my final word on my life and work if it be later this Good Friday afternoon at 3.00pm?

Come to think of it, what would be your final word on your life and work if it me later this afternoon at 3.00pm?

  • “I hope I have done enough”.
  • “I hope I have earned enough to set the family, the farm, the house, the business up for a secure financial future”.
  • “I hope I was nice enough for long enough to get in”.
  • “I hope I did enough to be remembered”.
  • “I hope I did enough to extend the good cause into the future”.
  • “I hope I loved you enough – my dear wife, my dear kids”.
  • “I hope I did not miss out on anything good – that I lived life to the full – that I ticked off most things on my bucket list”.
  • “That I believed everything right – right enough to get in”.

All these hopes express something of what we think we are here for. Seems like we are very unsure on that these days. In post WWII Western culture we used to be a little more sure, but not now.

The late, Tim Keller and others have argued, for the past thousand years Christianity in the Western world could be said to have relied on two things. People believed the goal of life was to do good. And most people possessed, even if they professed no faith in Jesus’ goodness, a familiarity with Christianity’s basic teaching: The life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus and his teaching (mostly the Sermon on the mount), good and evil, life beyond this suffering life, and God being a person, not a mere force or first cause.

Maybe many of us here today may speak those more ‘other focussed’ last words like:

  • “I hope I have earned enough to set the family, the farm, the house, the business up for a secure financial future”.
  • “I hope I did enough to extend the good cause into the future”.
  • “I hope I loved you enough – my dear wife, my dear kids”.

At least these are in line with what we have been taught all our lives. They are ‘other’ centred and reflective of Jesus’ ‘golden rule’: the command to love others as you love yourself.

But things are changing a lot. Greg Sheridan of the Australian newspaper a few weeks ago comments on Keller’s view:

“Now, the purpose of life is self-centred power, not to be good but to be fulfilled, not to conform your life to the truth but to find and cultivate your most pleasurable self. Christianity is confused”.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/woke-leftists-and-extremist-us-evangelicals-threaten-the-west/news-story/9f15fd4a94d8bc3b84f91bc1d68bff03

Maybe we are a bit confused now? We might find ourselves speaking those other final words too, or even more?

  • “I hope I have done enough”.
  • “I hope I was nice enough for long enough for some reason”.
  • “I hope I did enough to be remembered”.
  • “I hope I did not miss out on anything good – that I lived life to the full – that got most of my bucket list done”.

Whether we are just aware of the basics of Jesus and are trying to live somewhere near that, or whether we have moved on from that old stuff to the modern affections of self, these words of Jesus remain.

‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

First thing I notice is that these final words are not spoken to some “god”; some garden variety impersonal ‘Force’, or ‘the universe’, ‘mother nature’, or self-chosen god. Nor are they spoken to some stream of philosophical thought, some dead mentor, teacher or parent, or a society needing something to remember him by.

These final words on all that Jesus achieved for others are not spoken to God, whom he knows well as a kind and loving parent.

‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

Yes, Jesus’ spirit is his spirit, but it was not his altogether either. He now gives himself (his spirit) to Someone; the One from whom he came to do this life and its work. His life, his person, his actions, words, accomplishments, his imprint on planet earth and its story were not only made by him or to be lived by him. Someone else was there for the whole journey. His whole life, with all of its details, is a gift received from his Father and a sacrifice given for his Father.

So, again, on this Good Friday, what would your final words be?

To speak these words of Jesus, you would need to trust that the same One from whom Jesus came and to whom he now returns after living his life and doing his work for the world is the giver, keeper and final receiver of you (your spirit; your very self)?

Can you trust that?

I learnt that these words Jesus speaks are learned words. Jesus learned these words. They are not only his. They have been spoken by millions before Jesus spoke them. They come from Psalm 31:5.

“Into your hand I commit my spirit”, sings the song writer.

This verse was the prayer every Jewish mother taught her child to say last thing at night. They are like a prayer you may have been taught or taught to the kids:

‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray, dear Lord, my soul to keep.

May angels guard me through the night and keep me safe ‘til morning light’.

Maybe Mary taught her boy to pray this prayer before the threatening dark came down: ‘Into your hands, I commit my spirit.’ Mary is standing there now. He is entering the darkest darkness now. She might be praying along…..

The Psalm 31 prayer Mary taught her boy lacked that first word; ‘Father’. Jesus now adds it in. As he does he reveals who the “you’ in ‘your hands’ really has been all along: “Father”.

“Father” … into you hand I commit my spirit”.

When he dies he will not wonder off to some vague nameless cloudy place where natural forces will be in charge, or some super-spiritual sphere of shining star

S in the sky that will be a ‘better place’ where he can ‘look down on us’ and not be lost.

He will Be WITH HIS FATHER – and that is enough. He will remain in his Father’s love and keeping in a whole new sky and sea, heave and earth, garden and city WITH THE FATHER.

So these final words summing up Jesus in his words from the community in which he was formed are intimate, trusting and complete surrender to the One whom he knows and whom, he knows loves him.

Are they your words today at 3?

I want to be able to speak these words today. I want to speak these words every day, whatever comes down the pipe.

I want to be able to speak to God as my Father and me, his suffering child; giving myself to his power and love on any given day.

Like a parent handing over the keys to the family business to a grown-up child, I want to be able to trust what I am doing, who I am and what I am handing from into the safe keeping of the Father, so I can trust others with more.

When the evening comes and the work is done and busyness of the world is finally hushed, in a loud voice, for all to hear and with a final show of absolute trust, I would like to be able to surrender all I am to the Father, knowing that this death will not be the end of me or him.

Friend, Good Friday is calling again. The Saviour is speaking again.

  • He has done enough once and for everyone.
  • He went ‘the whole nine yards’ and back for you to be safe in his grace.
  • “I hope I did enough to be remembered” you might say. No need to worry. He did enough to remember you. You are always remembered and known by your Father, and this brother. Saviour, Jesus.
  • You won’t miss out on anything good with the risen Jesus. You can scrub out the bucket list because you are on his list by faith in this Suffering Servant King and his great love for you.

Go ahead. Pray it today.

“Father” … into you hand I commit my spirit”.

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