Thursday, May 2, 2013

Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit

“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 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. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.” (Luke 23:44-49)
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. It was the ninth hour, the city would have heard the horn blow. This would announce that the afternoon sacrifice was now taking place. It was also a time typically set aside for prayer among pious Jews, we know that the disciples followed this custom of setting aside the ninth hour for prayer. Prayer for Jews was very much a liturgical sort of thing. They prayed with set prayers, namely the psalms, they kept a routine, and the routine kept them. And this routine meant that prayers at the ninth hour started with the Thirty First Psalm. “Into your hand I commit my Spirit.”
By quoting one line of a Psalm like this, the whole Psalm would be brought to mind. It was a Psalm that brought to mind the resilience of faith in the face of distress and trouble. “Into your hands I commit my spirit, because you have redeemed me.” This is the “thy will be done” of the Lord’s Prayer. Whatever happens, we know that God will work out for good for those who love him. It is a simple trust. We may not see a way out. We may see only suffering. We may not be able to understand what is going on. But we are in God’s hand. He has redeemed us. And here is our redemption, crying out in faith, praying the prayers of Judah, joining the saints in prayer even as he dies. The last words on his lips are words he has prayed since childhood, they are God’s words, words that do not fail. With these words he died. And even the Centurion, if no one else, saw and understood, this man truly was righteous.

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