Disheveled Theologian: The last seven words of Christ -- reunion
We have reached the final “last word” of Christ. The last thing he said while in the process of dying. The other things he spoke of were forgiveness and salvation — a good pairing — and relationship and abandonment — again a sort of compare and contrast of ideas. He then spoke of distress followed by triumph, the ultimate juxtaposition of ideas. Now, in this final word, he spoke of “reunion.”
Reunions can be interesting things, can’t they? Class reunions, especially. I’ve attended a few from my school on Orcas Island, Wash., which were both weird and good. They invited me since it’s a small school, even though I didn’t graduate from there, which was friendly of them. We’d known each other since preschool, after all.
I went on to graduate from high school in West Berlin, Germany, which makes attending class reunions a bit of a trick. They do have reunions in the United States, which is nice, held every few years in various cities. They’re usually events for the entire school however, not just one class. I haven’t attended any of them, but I’d like to someday.
One thing that also complicates matters is that our school, Berlin American High School, doesn’t exist any more (except as a German Oberschule) due to the military leaving Berlin upon the reunification of Germany. Now there was a reunion that was worth celebrating! Families were reunited after decades and a country, split in half following World War II, was finally whole again.
Yes, reunions can be grand things. Jesus, when he spoke his last sentence before dying, was looking forward to a reunion with his father. “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46).
Jesus was on earth for 33 years. That meant that for over three decades he was separated as never before from God, his father. Sure, he spoke to him in prayer all the time, but his time on earth followed an eternity of being together in heaven, making it a very real separation. And now, with Jesus’ death, would come the reunion.
But physical reunion with his father wasn’t the only union ushered in by the death of Jesus. Jesus’ death had a purpose: to free us of our sins. And since sin is what separates us from Jesus, his death meant that there was no longer anything keeping us from spending eternity with him in heaven. We, too, can be united with God, provided that we accept Jesus’ payment for our sins on our behalf.
It’s all rather heavy, theologically, isn’t it? Easter is thought of as a celebratory season! But the happiness of Easter is dependent upon the death of our Savior.
The reason that Jesus could willingly die for us and suffer the ignominy of the cross — and commit his spirit into the hands of his father — was because he knew what lay ahead:
Jesus didn’t stay dead. He committed his spirit to God, breathed his last, and died. And three days later, at the dawn of that first Easter morning, he got up out of his grave clothes, neatly folded the cloth that had been over his face, and walked out of the tomb, alive.
When we commit our spirit to God, who knows what miracles can happen! God will take us, hang on to us, and reveal hitherto unknown and astounding things! The excitement of this idea is almost blinding in its power, when you stop to think about it. And that same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead is living in us (Romans 8:11).
The last words Jesus spoke were of commitment to God. Of faith in his strong hands. Place your spirit in God’s hands, my friends. If it was so important to Jesus that he spoke of it with his last breath, how can we not follow his lead with every breath remaining to us?
Happy Easter indeed.