The sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. 46Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed His last. 47When the centurion saw what had happened, he gave glory to God, saying, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Luke 23:45-47
I have too many commitments” is a refrain I often here from people inside and outside of the church. ‘I am stretched too thin’. In reality, we can only make one commitment because we can only be one person. What is the point of our life? Why do we exist? What are we committed to? Who are we committed to?
Jesus walked that lonesome valley all the way up to the cross where he was nailed and mocked and stabbed. In that agony, he has already forgiven those around him, he has already thirsted in his physical body, now he commits his spirit, his soul, his being to God the Father. Jesus speaks in intimacy with God as he teaches his disciples.
When you pray, pray like this: Our Father…
A cross is a public execution. Not only are you killed in public, but you slowly die. This is not a hanging or a beheading which happens fast and allows for tidy clean up. Jesus dies in public and it hurts and yet he has faith.
A commitment is an act of faith. When I committed to marriage, I had faith in God and Alina in our future together. When I committed to this vocation of ministry, I had faith that it was what God would have for me. When I commit to a lunch meeting with someone, I have faith that they will show up. When my son, Dominic, commits to jumping off a wall, he has faith that I will catch him.
In the letter to the Galatians, Paul writes what has often been translated as the following:
yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
In the Greek, what is often translated as faith in Christ (pistis christou) can also be the faithfulness of Christ. This interpretation radically shifts our understanding of this passage and our understanding of Jesus. If instead of fixating on our own actions (even our action of having faith), what if our justification comes purely from Jesus, purely from the faith of Jesus? We see in these penultimate words the power of Christ’s faithfulness. He is committed to God the Father in all that he is (‘all that he is’ could be another translation of spirit).
Are you committed to anything with such devotion? Christ offers himself totally for us, for you. Christ’s shows us that we, too, can commit ourselves to God. We can commit our lives. We can commit all that we are. We can call God Father not because of the works of the law, but because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
We all have victory in this. For Christ did not simply come back from the dead but defeated death itself and revealed that the last word for us had already been said in the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Yet we must not rush to Easter. Christ did not rush to easter. We see in Christ the actuality of absolute commitment to the Father. Absolute commitment to a faith that says our suffering is not in vain, our joy is not vain, our relationships and love are not in vain. Christ's words on the cross cover the span of human emotion and life and Christ's commitment holds through to the end.
The fullness of Christ is revealed on the cross. We must not rush to Easter. We must remember this place.