Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday 2011

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” (Luke 23:44-47).

The last words Jesus uttered before dying were, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” In Jesus’ day, these words were often used as a prayer before going to sleep. Jesus says this prayer before He dies in order to express His undying trust in His Father. (Though Jesus is equal to the Father, He lived His life daily trusting the Father.)

The words of this prayer are taken from Psalm 31. This psalm, written by David, is a psalm of an innocent sufferer. Jesus was the ultimate innocent sufferer. Three times in Luke 23 Pilate declared that Jesus was not guilty of any crime. “I find no guilt in this man” (v. 4). “Nothing deserving death has been done by him” (v. 15). “I have found in him no guilt deserving death” (v. 22). The centurion said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” (v. 47).

Jesus was perfect. He never once committed a sin. Yet He was falsely accused (v. 2). He was mocked (vv. 11, 35-37, 39). He was humiliated. He was beaten. And He was crucified.

It’s easy to see why Jesus identified with this psalm as His life came to an end. In Psalm 31, David laments about the distress that his enemies are bringing into his life. “You have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul” (v. 7). “I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also” (v. 9). “Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach” (v. 11). “I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life” (v. 13). That’s what the enemies of Jesus had done. They had plotted to take His life. But unlike David’s enemies, they had succeeded.

So there is also much in this psalm that Jesus could not identify with—especially verse 8: “You have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy” (v. 8). David declared his trust in the Lord and was delivered. Jesus announced His trust in the Lord and died.

Psalm 31 has a happy ending: “Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful.... Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” (vv. 23-24). The life of Jesus seemed to have an unhappy ending.

Was it a mistake for Jesus to put His trust in His Father? No! We know how the story really ends. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). Jesus prayed, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” because He knew that after His death would come His resurrection, ascension, and His glorious return.

As Jesus died, so we should live. I should commit my life to God. We should say, as Jesus did, “Into your hands I commit my life.” This means to trust in God no matter what happens. Jesus didn’t stop trusting during His intense agony on the cross. We must not stop trusting when life gets difficult. Why should I commit my life to God? Two reasons:

First, I should commit my life to God because He loves me. God is the “Father” of all who put their faith in Jesus. He is a perfect Father who knows and wants what is best for His children. During the final hours of Jesus’ life there was darkness—from noon to 3:00 p.m. But even in the darkness the God who loves us is still present.

Second, I should commit my life to God because His plan is always best. God’s “hands” make no mistakes. Sometimes, though, it appears to us that God does make mistakes. Before the resurrection, the followers of Jesus viewed the crucifixion as a mistake. They didn’t understand that the hands of God delivered Jesus into the hands of sinful men. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). Jesus was delivered into the hands of sinners so that sinners could be delivered. That was God’s plan. There was a happy ending!

And there is a happy ending to all who say, “Father, into your hands I commit my life.” Today, Jesus does not regret His decision to endure the suffering of the cross. And if who put your trust in Him, you will not regret that decision when you stand before Him in heaven. You will not regret that decision when He presents you with your heavenly rewards. You will not regret that decision as you live forever in His presence. There will be a happy ending.

Have you said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”?