Prayer is a privilege of the children of God. If there is one thing we ask of the Lord what is it that we should ask for in prayer? Many of us would ask for material blessing others would ask for healing and good health but what is our greatest need that we should ask the Lord, is it not forgiveness? The very first word of Jesus on the cross is; “Father, forgive them.” Forgiveness is the very reason why Jesus went to the cross, for our forgiveness. But the there is no forgiveness when there is no genuine repentance. It takes the life of the only Son of God for our forgiveness and that should bring us to genuine repentance.
The wages of sin is death and since Adam’s fall we were all condemned to death. What about a promise of life and resurrection? To a sinner condemned to eternal death how sweet it is to hear from the mouth of Jesus hanging on the cross the words; “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” The moment we come to faith through the proclamation of the Gospel and the workings of the Holy Spirit, this promise is for us not in the Day of Judgment but today. The assurance of God’s promise is sure and reliable because it takes the life of the Son on the cross to bring us all to his Kingdom.
When we fail to our commitment Jesus is faithful to his commitment. Nothing is left to chance even the care of his human mother. He just cannot leave his mother unattended in her old age for the remainder of her life on earth. “Woman, behold your son”, leaving the care of his mother to his disciple John. In the same manner that he would not leave his church unattended when he is away. He said to Peter, “Feed my Sheep”. Feeding the sheep is to feed with Word and Sacraments, the means of Grace. The Church of Christ then is preserve in the true faith through Word and Sacraments unto life everlasting.
“We have been saved by grace through faith and this is the gift of God”, St. Paul said in Ephesians 2. It is only by the mercy of God that we are saved. We should have been suffering the penalty of death but Jesus took our place on the cross. Can we imagine if God abandoned us? God is the source of life and we were separated from the source of life because of our sins. The closing of the Garden of Eden and the guarding of the way to the Tree of Life by an angel with a flaming sword is an imagery how it is to be abandoned by God. Death came to Adam and Eve and all their offspring. Pain in childbearing and thorns and thistles in the production of food are imagery of pain and sickness and eventually death. Jesus took this abandonment to himself so that we might be reconciled to his Father in heaven. He went into darkness and the excruciating pain of the penalty for sin that he shouted; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God’s mercy on man was possible because it was the Son of God that was abandoned for our sake.
He thirst, it was high noon and his human body thirst for water, so also for our salvation, for our forgiveness, life and resurrection. “I thirst”, but instead of water he was given vinegar. Why Jesus did voluntarily suffered even to the cross? He thirsts for our forgiveness and righteousness for God so loved the world.
“It is finished!” The battle is won, on the cross, by his death. Our sins are forgiven. What can the devil accuse us of? Nothing! The devil cannot charge us anymore of our sins for whatever sin we are guilty of it is pardoned. O death, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting? The wages of sin is death but when there is forgiveness, there is life and resurrection.
The committal, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is a word of faith, of trust and confidence into the grace given on the merits of Christ on the cross. “Into your hands…” no longer in the hands of the devil, but into the hands of our Father in heaven. Indeed the words carved on the tombstone of a dead believer, “Died in the grace of the Lord” for we trust that our soul is in the hands of the Lord waiting for the day of resurrection and the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life. What a better place to go as we commit our spirit into the Father’s hands.
As we reflect on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross, we see not the dying Christ but the death of the power of the devil, the defeat of the power of death and the power of sin over us. What we see more clearly is our forgiveness, life and resurrection by grace through faith in the vicarious work of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
A Devotional by Rev. Daniel Pondevida, Chairman of the LCP Board of Control and Parish Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Quezon City