A Word of Trust (Luke 23:46)
- Order of Service: Good Friday Main + Septem Verba
- Hymns: LSB #435, 434, 447
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!" And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. (Luke 23:44-49)
One of my favorite things to do is play with my kids. When they were younger, I enjoyed tossing them up in the air and catching them. They loved the game because they trusted that I would catch them. As long as I caught them, they had a great time laughing and giggling. But if I dropped them just once, all the laughing would stop. All the trust would be gone. But I didn't drop them. Not even once.
How’s your trust doing lately? Do you feel like you’ve been dropped? Has your trust been shaken by health concerns? Marital problems? Loss of your job? Then the seventh and final word that Jesus spoke on the Cross has to fill you with awe. After all He’d been through—the lack of sleep, the stress of the trials, the mockery, the beatings, the nailing to the Cross, the physical and spiritual agony—JESUS SPOKE A WORD OF TRUST.
- A word of perfect trust in His heavenly Father.
- A word of trust that is now ours by faith.
It’s a word of perfect trust. Perfect because Jesus had been dropped by His heavenly Father. From noon until 3pm, “darkness came over all the land.” The darkness of God’s judgment against His Son. God had been forsaken by God. The Father abandoned the Son to Hell. How hard that is to comprehend!! Jesus had just cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” On the Cross, Jesus experienced the absolute anguish and loneliness of Hell. He was, for the first time in all eternity, separated from the perfect love that is God. That is what Hell is—separation from God.
It had to be that way. Jesus shouldered the sin that infests our very hearts: “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” All of that was piled onto Jesus’ shoulders that day. Not only all this, but our lack of trust sent Jesus to the Cross. It is the same lack of trust that we see in our first parents. God had set them in a beautiful garden with only one restriction. But Satan was able to exploit the naivety of Adam and Eve and ruin their trust in God with one simple question. With that one question, all of us are born without the proper trust in God.
It wasn’t just our lack of trust that sent Jesus to the Cross. It was our misplaced trust as well. This is easy to see in our every day lives. If I were to take a poll, I’m sure many of you could pull out at least one dollar bill from your wallet or purse. It wouldn’t matter what denomination it was. The phrase “In God we trust” is on every bill minted in our country. But do we really trust in God like our money says? Maybe if our wallet is full of the bills we feel better about trusting in God. We sleep better if we have a healthy savings account or retirement nest egg with our name on it. But if the nest egg is lost in a pension scandal or the savings account is drained because of high energy costs or our wallets are filled with cobwebs instead of dollars, trust in God is much harder. It’s much easier to trust in God when things are going well, but once they turn sour, we cry foul. The trust leaves and is replaced by worry, fear and medical stresses.
Despite our lack of trust or our misplaced trust, Jesus took care of all our sins. The flood of all our sins flowed directly to Golgotha. To Christ’s Cross. There Jesus “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins.” Our sin forced the Father to turn His back on His Son. Your sins and mine caused Jesus to be forsaken by His Father because He had become sin for us. Having suffered the three hours of Hell on the Cross, the work was now finished. There was only one last thing to do—defeat death. The Savior who said, “I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” Now, it was time for Jesus to do just that. He laid His life down with the words, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Even though Jesus had been abandoned by His Father. Even though Jesus had suffered the eternal torments of Hell. Even though everything looked bleak, He still trusted His Father. It was that perfect, innocent trust that was never seen before and hasn’t been seen since that brings us the forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus confidently placed His soul into His Father’s hands for safekeeping. He knew He wouldn’t be disappointed. The charge to lay His life down and take it back up again was given from the Father Himself to Jesus. This promise as well as another promise in Scripture, “Nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Even in death, Jesus trusted His Father’s plan.
This is good news for us. Very good news. Why? Jesus had said earlier, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Everything Jesus did was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Every word He said while He taught and preached among the people of His time. Every word He spoke from the Cross. Everything was to fulfill what had been given to us in the Holy Scriptures. He did this in our place—as our substitute. He lived, suffered and died without committing a single sin, so that “through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Christ’s perfect trust is now ours by faith. When the Father looks down at us, he doesn’t see our sinful acts. He sees Jesus, our perfect substitute. After Jesus uttered the words, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” He breathed His last breath. At that same moment, the curtain in the Temple tore in half from top to bottom. The barrier between God and man has been taken away. We have direct access to the Father again! Access to Heaven when we die and access to the heavenly Father right now—all through God’s grace poured out on us through Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
This trust makes a difference in our everyday lives. Because of what Jesus has done, we can trust that our heavenly Father will never drop us. He will never let us fall. When the economy turns sour and times are lean? We trust as did the psalmist, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” When life’s problems pile up like mountains? We trust our Savior’s promise, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We can trust all that our Father has promised because He has never broken a promise. We can trust with Paul, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” The Father has given us the Son. The Son has given us His life and through it—heaven! Do we really think our Lord would drop us before we get there?
This trust is no more evident than at the deathbed of a believer. It’s humbling to see a courageous Christian battling illness and doing it with the patience, courage and confidence that only a God-given faith can bring. It is also comforting to often see the faith played out as a childlike faith as the believer faces their last moments before death. You can almost see the peace of Jesus written all over the believer’s face. It’s in the eyes. It’s in the voice. How precious it is to hear these last words from a Christian, “I am not afraid. I know Jesus is my Savior. I know He is with me now. And I’m ready to go home.” Doesn’t that sound just like Jesus’ dying words? “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” When you and I come to the end of our lives, we will be able to make Jesus’ dying prayer our own, because Jesus Christ has taken away the sting of death. We believe, know and trust that this last word from the Cross was not the Savior’s last word. He who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die,” fulfilled that promise by rising again on the third day. He is the Resurrection and the Life—our Resurrection and our eternal life. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”
“Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” Jesus spoke these words with confidence, because He knew His Father’s plan for Him wasn’t finished on Good Friday. God’s plan included Easter morning, an earthquake, angels and an empty tomb. God’s plan also includes you and me. Be like my children tossed high into the air! Trust in your Savior and all He has said and done for you. He won’t drop you. You have His word on it. “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” Amen.