April 20, 2014
FROM THE ARCHIVES: CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING:
'Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit': Jesus' important addition to David's cry. (David Neff, 3/20/2008 , Christianity Today)
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
Jesus' spiritual life was bathed in the language of the Psalms of David. He was a descendant of David and was hailed on Palm Sunday as the Son of David (Matt. 21:9). The Psalms reflect the rough emotional terrain of Jesus' famous forebear's turbulent life.
Like a leitmotif in a Wagnerian opera, the theme of trust in the face of doom returns, repeats, reasserts itself in the Psalms of David: "They conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God'" (Ps. 31:13b-14).
In his most trying moments, in his dying moment, Jesus reached into the depths of his experience for the words of his archetypal forebear David. He brought forth Psalm 31:5: "Into your hands I commit my spirit." His dying moment was a moment of trust.
Recall, though, that but for the circumstances under which these words were spoken they would be little more than boilerplate. After all, how much different would God sending His Son to tell us we can trust Him be than John McCain or Hillary Clinton sending their kids as surrogate speakers to tell us we can trust them.
What freights Christ's words with significance is that they follow hard upon the heels of Him calling into question God's trustworthiness. Had Christ died after saying, "My Lord, My Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me," it would have been an indictment of Creation. If human existence was such a hard row to hoe that we were left with no other option but to despair of God's goodness then life would have no point and the world would approach the unredeemable.
Instead, even after having been brought to the singular moment in History, when God despaired of Himself -- and, thereby, finally came to comprehend His creations -- He got past the crisis and offered words of reassurance that He was still to be trusted.
It really is the greatest story ever told.
Posted by oj at April 20, 2014 5:02 AM
[originally posted: 3/23/08]