Staring death in the face
Recognizing that the time had come make the payment for humanity’s sins, Jesus said one last prayer to His Father.
Luke 23:44-46 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.
This is Jesus fully trusting the Father all the way to the end. Staring death in the face, Jesus’ confidence in the Father’s provision and plan never wavered. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to suffer through beatings. It wasn’t enough that He was nailed to a cross and hung there for six hours. As brutal as Christ’s suffering was, our sin-debt would not be paid unless His death occurred.
But why must it be death? Why couldn’t the Father accept some other form of payment?
We were made for relationship with God. We were created such that God was both our purpose and our fuel. However, our rebellion separated us from the source of life. Justice would expect that for the choices a person makes, that person should experience the natural consequence of his or her actions. Since we cut ourselves off from our one source of life in all the universe, the natural consequence for our rejecting our Creator…is death, a complete separation from God.
However, God chose to be merciful and delayed the natural consequences that we deserved. Although our physical bodies were now corrupted and we would experience physical death, God allowed for a substitute to take our place so that a person’s spiritual death (eternal separation from God) would not occur. Israel’s sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
Jesus summed it up like this:
John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus knew that His death was to be a substitute for ours. His sacrifice took the natural consequences of what our sinful choices warranted. But it had to be death…because that’s what we deserved.
Earlier, Jesus quoted Psalm 22 as He dealt with the conflicting emotions of despair and hope. Jesus’ last words, His last prayer – Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit – underscored His complete trust in the Father as He completed the sacrifice, and His words find their source in Psalm 31.
Psalm 31:1-5 Lord, I seek refuge in You; let me never be disgraced.
Save me by Your righteousness.
Listen closely to me; rescue me quickly.
Be a rock of refuge for me, a mountain fortress to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress; You lead and guide me because of Your name.
You will free me from the net that is secretly set for me, for You are my refuge.
Into Your hand I entrust my spirit; You redeem me, Lord, God of truth.
All the way to the end, Jesus was trusting the Father. Because of His death, our opportunity for relationship with the Father has been restored. Eternal life is available to anyone who believes in Him, which means that you understand who He is, why He died, and you trust Him when He said that He will give you eternal life.
That is why today is a Good Friday.