Hello and welcome to Friday’s foundations podcast. It has been great to be sharing with you this week. Next Monday, my friend and colleague Tom Finnemore will be taking the podcast on as we finish the gospel of Luke together. Do think about listening in; I am sure they will be fantastic and if things that have stood out to you this week – share and talk about this resource in your communities. There might be one or two people who haven’t heard about them yet – it could really help them get a rhythm of reading the Bible and prayer.
So far this week we have looked at the disciple Peter and how Jesus shaped his identity as one of the pillars of the early church. We had two days considering Jesus’ innocence through the unjust trials of Jesus. And yesterday, we heard a simple reflection about a core component of the Christian faith, selfless love, as we heard again the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Today we get to hear the story of Jesus’ death and burial.
Let me read the first 5 verses out from our podcast today… and we can hear the whole reading together towards the end of the podcast.
The Death of Jesus
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.
I’d like us to think about Jesus’ last words… I’ve been doing some research into famous last words to illustrate this reflection. Often the results are highly disputed as a romanticised version of what people wanted to remember these individuals for… nevertheless, they sometimes (not always) tell us something of the person.
Beethoven, for example said, “Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.” …
This is a translated Italian phrase that was typically used after a specific kind of 18th century improvised comedy he was notably last involved in before passing away.
Mary Antoinette famously said, “Pardon me sir…” as she accidentally stood on the foot of her executioner.
Apparently, Winston Churchill declared “he was bored of it all” before he passed away.
Jesus, however, in the Gospel of Luke says these words in v45 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
They are a beautiful expression of trust as he commends himself to the Father in the words of a Psalm (Ps. 31:5). Jesus clearly knew the scriptures and when the pressure is on he finds comfort in these divine words. You might have heard this story told by the other gospel writers before… Matthew and Mark emphasize the terrible nature of the death Jesus died for sinners with the words, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). Luke is not saying this, but he is not denying that reality either. Crucifixion was a gruesome way to die. Luke lets us into that imagery, yet at the same time paints a picture that Jesus was at one with the Father; he was doing the will of the Father.
If there was something to take away from the last few days of looking at Luke 22 and 23 together, for me, I think it will be this. Despite the difficult circumstances… God’s gracious care is sufficient… there is never a time when we are beyond God’s care… Jesus’ prayers through Luke 22 and 23 show us that we can trust God’s goodness even in our darkest moments. When he needs strength to drink the cup of wrath, Jesus prays to the Father for help. On the cross, still confident in God’s mercy, Jesus asks the Father to forgive the soldiers who are crucifying him. Even at this moment we are reflecting upon today, when all outward signs of God’s favour have vanished (and there may be times when we have felt that way in the past – or feel that way today), Jesus still entrusts his spirit to his Father’s hands.
If God’s gracious care is sufficient for such trials as these… there is never a time when we are beyond its reach.
I hope you don’t mind me repeating that sentence again… It is the big idea for today: If God’s gracious care is sufficient for such trials as these [these things that Jesus went through]… there is never a time when we are beyond its reach.
So no matter what today holds: if it feels like it is full of light and wonder or if it feels dark and heavy, despite the circumstances God’s care will reach us!
How wondrous is the love of God.
God thank you for this week. We thank you that you died that we might find life. Thank you that even in each and every situation – help us to see and trust in your care today. Amen.
READING: Luke 23:44-56
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’ When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.