Friday, April 10, 2020

Sermon -- Good Friday: The Seventh Word from the Cross (April 10, 2020)

Seven Words from the Cross:
The Seventh Word

Luke 23:44-46

     “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep.”  No one goes to bed in terror.  We close our eyes at the end of the day, confident that we will wake up to a new day. 
     It is with this same confidence that Jesus gave his life into death.  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)  The word “commit” refers to a person who entrusts something to the care of another with the understanding that it will be restored to him as he left it.  So, Jesus entrusted his soul to the Father, confident that he would have it given back and that he would live again, body and soul, raised from the grave.
     “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  Jesus expressed not only confidence in his resurrection, he also expressed his confidence that his heavenly Father was still his heavenly Father and was pleased with him.  The previous hours would not have suggested that at all.  I suppose you could even go back to the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed that this cup might be taken from him.  The answer was, “No, you must consume all of it.”  When darkness covered the whole land for three hours, Jesus was consuming the most bitter part of that cup: the consequences of all our sin—the rejection and the wrath of the Almighty God.
     Nevertheless, Jesus did not trust in what he had experienced.  He trusted in what his Father had foretold by the Holy Spirit.  “My flesh also dwells secure.  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” (Psalm 16:9-10)  And again, “When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days.” (Isaiah 53:10)  Jesus trusted that he was still his loving Father, that he would be true to his word, and that the grave would have to surrender him.  His spirit was in good hands.
     “Teach me to live that I may dread the grave as little as my bed.” (All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night – Thomas Ken; Hymn 592 in Christian Worship)  You have been united to Christ in baptism.  His death has become your death.  And if you are united to him in death, you will also be united to him in resurrection.  For, he does not merely save your soul, but he saves you completely.  You are in the Father's hands.  He will not abandon you, even at the grave.  When you close your eyes in death, they will open again to a new and everlasting day.  As Jesus lives, so shall you.

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