In his final hours on the cross, Jesus spoke his “Last Seven Words.” Not simple words, but phrases rich and deep with meaning for those who proclaim him “Jesus, Savior, Redeemer and Lord.” We now conclude our exploration of these extraordinary words of our Lord.
The Seventh Word: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
The Gospels record last moment of Jesus’ human, earthly life:
Matthew 27:50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
Mark 15:37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
John 19:30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
In Luke, we read Jesus’ 7th Word from the Cross: “Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46, NRSV)
Why would Jesus, God incarnate, commend his spirit (soul) to God? This is the same conundrum we faced when exploring Jesus’ Fourth Word from the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34, NRSV) But when we remember that Jesus was not only fully divine, but fully human, it makes sense. The words of the Athanasian Creed, which all “orthodox” Christians (including Lutherans) profess, remind us that Jesus possessed “a rational soul and a human body.” It is his “human soul” that Jesus commends to God, his Father. Jesus offered his human soul to God’s eternal care. In doing do, Jesus reveals his complete trust in God. In essence, he was saying “Thy will be done.”
As I was writing this devotion, I asked my theologically brilliant, born and bred Lutheran husband for his take. He reminded me of Luther’s teaching on interpreting Scripture: Let scripture interpret scripture. When we are faced with a difficult text to “unpack” we need to look at texts that are more readily understood. In this case, we need only look to the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6, Luke 11) and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “He [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want’.” (Mark 14:35-36, NRSV) Because our dear Lord and Savior came to earth in the flesh, gave his life willingly to pay our debt, we can boldly pray the prayer our Lord taught us:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
God's Blessings on this Good Friday,