Our Good Friday service, the second portion of the Triduum, focused on the seven words from the cross. The following homily followed the seventh word.
THE SEVENTH WORD — Luke 23:33-46
For us men and for our salvation, (he) came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. (Nicene Creed, TLH p 22)
Our Creed confesses why Jesus came and what Jesus did. We confess what happened, just as the Apostles declare. Jesus accomplished it just as he had learned it, just as the Prophets foretold.
Jesus did not have his life taken from him. He laid it down of his own accord. He had accomplished his work. He had completed his mission. And finally, he surrendered his spirit.
With his last breath, Jesus again recited his Psalms: “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)
In his final word, Jesus does not address “God,” but his “Father.” Jesus is a faithful son who had completed his assigned task; therefore, he presented himself to his Father and submitted his work certain of his Father’s good pleasure. Jesus willingly put himself into his Father’s hands. He willingly gave himself into death. He confidently awaited his resurrection.
Now you also are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26) Therefore, you, like the Son of God, can face death with equal comfort and confidence. The God who gave you life has also secured your eternal life. The Savior who conquered death remains your Savior even when death comes to you. There is nothing to fear. You can go into death as a beloved child who has completed the task God has given you to do. You can commend your body and soul and all things to your Father, confident that he approves of you and loves you as his own child; for, that is what you are. You can lay down confidently awaiting your resurrection. Death is but a sleep for you, and your Lord will awaken you from it.
So, when your last hour comes, you can recite your Psalms as Jesus did: In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)