Each day of Holy Week, we will post a devotional reflection on the 7 last words of Christ from the cross.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
Nothing is scarier than death. Nothing.
It is a consuming shadow that lies across the path of us all. At some point we all must experience a final moment; take a final breath; think a final thought; give up final control; and then…what?
Nobody knows. And it is the unknown that haunts us.
What will it be like to enter the realm of death? The question of all questions. The question every religion is trying to answer in some way.
Every religion is a post-mortem claim that invites you to trust them with your death. Or we could go the secular irreligious rout and trust that what awaits us is nothing but nothingness. There is no realm after death, only expiration of body and conscience. But that too can only be accepted by faith.
Truth be told, we don’t know. We can’t know. That is unless someone could come back and to tell us. I’m not talking about these stories where people are resuscitated and write a best seller about the experience. I’m talking about someone actually dying, as in cold rigor mortis, as in a corpse in a grave. If someone like that comes back, I’m listening.
Well that was Christ’s promise. Again and again, he told his followers that he would rise from the dead. A claim as brazen as this sets him apart. For the first and only time, we have verifiable death promise. If He is does it, then He alone should be trusted with this thing called death. If He fails, then He is nothing more than one of countless other alleged answers to death.
And now it’s time to find out. He is in His final moment, His last words on His lips.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And with that, Jesus breathed His last.
Jesus closed His eyes in death with words of unreserved trust. Trusting that the Father can do what He has promised to do, trusting that things will go according to the Divine plan, trusting that His outrageous prediction will be vindicated—Jesus falls asleep confident that God will wake Him up.
His claim hangs in the balance, and it seems His claim was in vain.
He is taken down from the cross. Still dead.
He is cleaned and prepared for burial. Still dead.
He is placed in a tomb. Still dead.
A couple days go bye. Still dead.
And then just as Jesus of Nazareth is about to be forgotten beneath the rubble of antiquity, history’s greatest assertion becomes history’s greatest truth.
He’s alive. Just as He promised, He has come back from the dead.
And He has returned with the most glorious of promises: All who fall asleep like Him, with their souls committed to the Father’s care, will also awaken like Him. Indeed, He returns bearing the first and only death promise that has been verified and vindicated.
In your final moment, as you surrender final control, and slip off into the darkness of our own death, you can know for certain that the One you trust has gone before you, has been on the other side, and has lived to tell about it. Alive to proclaim that as He has been raised, so shall you be raised.
O death, where is thy sting?
-Rev. Robert Cunningham (@tcpcrobert on twitter)