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March 18

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
Luke 23:44-46

Perhaps as a child you learned the familiar bedtime prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray Thee Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take. Amen.” Now in the final minutes of Jesus’ life we hear him praying a bedtime prayer that he likely had learned from Mary and Joseph when he was barely old enough to string words together.

Jesus’ prayer, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” is from Psalm 31:5, that Jewish tradition tells us was a bedtime prayer for children and their parents. Facing the dangers of the night, and perhaps even death, the people of God and Jesus entrust themselves into the hands of God. In this Jesus is dying just as he lived, placing his life into the Father’s keeping.

This popular bedtime prayer from the Psalms has a second line that most of those standing around the cross would also have memorized: “…you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5). In his death, as in life, Jesus is placing his confidence in his Father’s faithfulness and love.

The Apostle Peter, who was an eyewitness to Jesus’ sufferings, says of Jesus: “When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly” (I Peter 2:23).

Jesus took all that he suffered, all the abuse and the shame, and placed it all into God’s hands who always judges justly. Father will take care of it!

The first Christian martyr, Stephen, also prayed this same bedtime prayer just as he was dying, commending his spirit into the hands of God (Acts 7:59). Enduring suffering and humiliation Stephen handed it all over to God.

Near our home there is a beautiful prayer garden where we often go to pray and seek the face of God. In the garden there is a moving statue of Jesus on his face in Gethsemane, praying. Below the statue are the words, “Father, I do not understand you, but I trust you.” I am often reminded that we do not always understand what God is doing in our lives, or why things are happening the way they are. But we can trust our “faithful God.” Whether in life or death, it is peace to commend ourselves to the hands of God.

MEDITATION

Soaking in Scripture…
Today’s Andy Moments…

 

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