Jesus’ Final Words

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. Many of us will attend services at one of another point during the day. In some churches, people will offer reflections on the words uttered by Jesus as he was dying on the cross.

The final words Jesus is recorded as saying is “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

There is a particular reflection on that line that has always been very powerful to me. It is by John C. Ortberg, and is part of book of meditations on the last words of Christ in a book titled Echoes from Calvary. I share it for your reflection today:

Into your hands….

A two-year- old girl stands by the side of a pool.  “Jump,” her father says.  She is filled with fear.  She is quite certain that if she jumps, she will die.  But she knows these hands.  She trusts these hands.  So she jumps.  She abandons herself to her father.  In between the jumping and the landing, everything in the world depends on these hands.

The history of this earth, in a way we don’t fully understand, comes to this one moment.  A lone figure is stretched out on a cross between heaven and earth, life and death.  All the fear and loneliness of the human race has been somehow poured out on him.  He has been asked by his father to do that which he most dreads.

But he knows these hands.  He trusts these hands.  So he says a prayer.  He says it now because he has said it every day of his life.  It’s not the kind of prayer you hold in reserve. 

Into your hands…

Each of us will stand on that edge one day: in a hospital room, maybe; or a convalescent ward; or some unsuspected place.  We too will taste fear.  None of us knows all about what comes next – not really; we all live between the jumping and the landing.

So Christ invites us to make his prayer our own.  He offers these words as the final gift of his earthly life; the last, best prayer of humankind.

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Blessings on this Good Friday.

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