And so we come to climax of this incredible part of history. He is risen! This day we celebrate the most wonderful event in all of history – the risen Son of God makes himself known to us – he is alive!
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
Mary and the others go to the tomb. It is empty. The stone is rolled back. There are angels present. And then – there he is! He is alive! Yes, He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive. Let’s never stop saying it, “He’s alive! This is the risen Son of God!”
Now let’s go to the last of these seven ‘words’ of Jesus on the Cross. Yesterday we noted that Jesus “gave up” his spirit as he ended his life in complete control. Different Gospel writers would have recorded different things that were remembered by their sources. John, who had been standing there watching, was struck by the finality of those words, “It is finished.” Luke, as he perhaps later talked with Mary, catches the relational aspects of Jesus’ last words. Women pick up relational things better than men, and doctors (which of course is what Luke was) pick up personal things better than most men. Thus in Luke’s record we have what are probably the words that immediately followed, “It is finished”. What do we see here?
The first thing is Jesus awareness now of the Father. A few minutes earlier he had been crying out for God’s presence. Now he addresses the Father directly. Now whether that is because the burden bearing and resisting the enemy opposition has come to an end is not clear. When we refer back to Psalm 22, that messianic, prophetic psalm of the Cross, the latter third of it is a declaration of faith that starts in verse 22, “I WILL declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I WILL praise you.”
Again and again in the psalms there comes a turning point where the psalmist speaks out in faith, while the situation is still unchanged, and praises the Lord. Whether Jesus is now aware of the Father’s presence as he approaches death, or whether he determines to make a faith statement despite the circumstances, is irrelevant. The key thing is that the Son, at the end, addresses the Father. This has been a plan executed now, but planned before the world began, a plan formulated within the Godhead. Within the Godhead the Son is always subservient to the Father, and so even here, now, right on the edge of death, the Son’s last words remind us of his relationship with the Father. It is as if his final act is to direct us to the Father, as had been his aim throughout his years of ministry.
It is as if the Son is saying, “Father, I’ve done my part so now I hand over to you for you to do what only you can do at this moment.” We noted yesterday, verses from Acts that acclaim the resurrection as the work of the Father. Very well, says Jesus, I leave this body and leave it up to you Father, how and when the resurrection will occur.
If Jesus did descend into hell (Eph 4:9) as we suppose, is it, that in going down to eternal punishment, he will stay there until the Father retrieves him and gives him back a body on this Easter Day? Is that the extent of the Son’s submission to the Father’s will, to go into the utmost depths of eternal punishment and to stay there until the Father raises up the body, three earth days later? If this is so, it just further adds to the wonder of the work of the Son of God who died for us. Total and absolute submission to justice, to the will of the Father, on our behalf! There he stays until, on this morning in earth time, the body rises up, unwinds the grave clothes and the Son is back on the earth with a body through which to communicate to his followers for the next weeks. He is alive! He is alive!! He is alive!!! He has conquered!!!! And now, God has “exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) Praise His Name!
Father, I worship and adore you! Lord Jesus, I exalt and praise you! Thank you Lord for this wonderful thing that you have done – for me!