44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, 45 while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. 46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life” [Psalm 31:5]. After he said this, he breathed for the last time.
Even on the cross, Jesus modeled the five practices that we have studied this Lenten season. There’s evidence that Jewish parents in Jesus’ day taught their children Psalm 31:5 as a bedtime prayer. It seems likely that Mary would have taught it to Jesus when he was a boy. According to Luke, he quoted these worshipful words of trust and gratitude—"Into your hands I entrust my life”—as a way to express his unbreakable bond with his heavenly father.
Forgiven. We are often our own worst critics, but God reminds us that we are forgiven. Remember a time when someone has offered grace and mercy to you, forgiveness in a beautiful way. How did their grace change you and fill you with gratitude? Write them a letter of appreciation.
O God, like Jesus I pray, “Into your hands I entrust my life,” because I realize you can care for me better than I can care for myself. Thank you for the promise that you will never let me go. Amen.
I am tempted to rush through the sadness of Holy Week to get to the joy of Easter. So I appreciate this week's focus on Jesus' last words on the cross and the depth of meaning for us today. Why does Luke, in today's scripture reading, emphasize the darkness that "covered the whole earth" for several hours before Jesus' death? Isn't the awful finality of Jesus suffering on the cross terrible enough? As I thought about this I wondered if the darkness represents the many attempts by those who felt threatened by Jesus' message of upheaval to finally extinguish the Light of Truth. As Jesus hung on the cross and death was imminent, it looked like that would happen. Those who loved or followed Jesus stood by helplessly or ran away and hid and it appeared that evil and death would have the final word.
But just before he died Jesus cries out in a loud voice, "It is finished," committing his soul to God's care. This final prayer was not whispered feebly, it was exclaimed loudly for all to hear, emphasizing that everything that took place leading up to the crucifixion did not happen to Jesus by chance but by his conscious choice as the culmination of God's plan. Every step that led to the cross was made intentionally and willingly as Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, waited in the garden to be arrested, and confirmed at trial that "I am who you say I am."
Luke reminds us why the cross was necessary and what it means for each of us. After hours of darkness the curtain in the temple is split from top to bottom; another revelation that God is control and at work on our behalf. Jesus' atonement means we are no longer separated from God by our sinful nature, but are reconciled through His grace.
I have areas of darkness that keep me from accepting the truth of God's grace and mercy. Worshiping God is a daily choice that takes my attention and trust away from these distractions and give it to the only one who is truly worthy, loving and eternal.
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