Today’s Bible passage and an excerpt
Read Luke 23:44-49
Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.
More thoughts for meditation
We have come to the end of a week’s journey of praying through what is known as The Way of the Cross. This spiritual practice is a contemplative prayer method that has, hopefully, helped us this week to move deeper into the reality of what Christ did on the cross to give us salvation from sin and direct access to God. Such forgiveness and relationship, in turn, gives us new connection with one another. Because of Christ, we can live life on earth (and one day in heaven) together, no longer isolated – from sharing resources and supporting each other during difficult times. Because of Christ, we have hope that we will survive and thrive, even in the moment of death.
Jesus’ seventh and final statement on the cross before he died was actually the reality of what it is to truly live, because of his death. It may seem counterintuitive to think this way. In part, it is. As we began our journey this week, we recalled Jesus’ words to his disciples before he endured the cross that “whoever wants to be my disciple must take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). By this, did Jesus mean personal death? To answer this question, we have gone deep this week and are trying to go deeper into Jesus’ meaning, which implies death is needed to live. When the first humanity disconnected themselves from God due to a selfish decision, living life with God openly and freely required an intervention, a sacrifice. We recalled, while praying through Jesus’ fourth statement, that the first sacrifice occurred in Genesis by God to allow humanity to not feel ashamed in approaching God. That first sacrifice began thousands of years of traditional sacrifices of animals, on the behalf of people, to remove sin’s separating reality between us and God. This repetitive bloodshed was no longer needed when Jesus declared it to be so, as we prayed through his sixth statement. The finality of being separated from God was confirmed with Jesus’ final statement when he said aloud, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. Jesus committed his life into the hands of his Maker.
Such commitment suggests two vital things: First, there is an acknowledgement that one’s life belongs to a caregiver. This requires trust in the one giving care – that the entrusted will be cared for without neglect. Second, there is a surrendering of self that has taken place. Because one trusts the caregiver completely to provide care accordingly, there is no doubt present to suggest otherwise, nor competing will to assert another (a better) way of caring. C.S. Lewis described the antithesis of this kind of commitment as “the great sin”. Lewis identified pride as the most significant stumbling block that keeps us from “taking up our cross”. Taking up our cross means we acknowledge Jesus’ death should have been our death. Taking up our cross means to no longer identify with our own attempts to be good, or be in charge or exist on our own; but rather, we identify with Jesus as the best Way to live. Humility is essential to carry this out this way, to carry the cross and follow Jesus. Pride and humility cannot co-exist. We saw this play out in the Garden of Eden, as we reflected this week, when Adam and Eve did not trust God to know best, and then they could not undo what they had done without God intervening. God, through Christ is the once and for all intervention that reconciles us with God and proves God is trustworthy to care for us forever. Jesus declaring his commitment to the origin of his life, before he breathed his last, is our example of how to live. After all, he knew that his last breath was going to be transformed into resurrection.
Suggestions for Action
Pray: “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”
Use not only Jesus’ words but his work on the cross, for us, be your life identity. Acknowledge that God, your Creator, is the best one to care for you, no other. Surrender yourself, your pride of thinking you know best. Allow God’s Spirit to hold your spirit and help guide you as you continue to walk the Way of the Cross.