The Last Word on Trust (Seven Last Words #7)

. 4 min read

Mar 2018, Christ Mountain Top
to Worship, Psalm 96
Joshua 3-4
John 19.28-42
The Last Word on Reconciliation, Feb 10/11
The Last Word on Hope, Feb 17/18
The Last Word on Family, Feb 24/25
The Last Word on Pain, Mar 3/4
The Last Word on Need, Mar 10/11
The Last Word on Endurance, Mar 17/18
The Last Word on Trust, Mar 24/25
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46, quoting
today’s psalm).
2, Easter Monday, the 2nd anniversary of dad’s death
      Commendation words:
·       It’s
okay, we’ll be okay, we’ll take care of Mom
·       “In
the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help? … Lord Jesus,
into your hands we commend Name in
sure and certain hope of resurrection.”
·       “I’m
going to Love” (to Marcy)
·       Easter
tide series, Love
(1 John)
last word of Jesus, this last word on Trust, give us comfort. “Father, into
your hands I commend my spirit.” We hear this and we are reassured that means
that we can commend our spirit, our lives to God. We can trust God. Let us not
overlook the fact, however, that Jesus’ expression of trust is offered in a
moment of great personal agony. And, if we go back to the fourth word, the last
word on pain, we heard Jesus say to his Father: “My God, my God, why have you
forsaken me?” So, here, it is the God-forsaken Jesus who entrusts his spirit to
the Father who has forsaken him. It takes the trust factor up a few notches.
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has
been there first. We can trust Jesus, even if we feel ourselves to be forsaken.

·       Only
the Son of God is capable of this task, that is, to submit fully to death and
yet redeem the destruction death names (Hauerwas, 97-98).
·       These words can
and should comfort, but that these words comfort us should not hide from us
that these last words of Jesus before his death name his willingness to embrace
the ice-cold silence of hell
descended into hell” was originally part of the Apostles’ Creed and has fallen
into disuse, at least in the United Methodist branch of Christianity’s family
tree. John Wesley, our founding figure, used it, but not always. Now, it is
relegated to a footnote in the hymnal. But it is precisely this descent of
Jesus that gives us reason for hope, even before what the Scripture calls “the
last enemy to be destroyed” – death itself (1 Corinthians 15:26).
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has
been there first. We can trust Jesus.
descent of Jesus is also the greatest demonstration of his divine nature.
Gregory of Nyssa writes, simply of Jesus becoming human,
The fact that the
omnipotent nature should have been capable of descending to the low estate of
humanity provides a clearer proof of power than great and super-natural
miracles…. The lofty, coming to exist in lowliness, is seen in this lowliness,
and yet descends not from its height.
notes, 280-281)
God become flesh, if the incarnation of Jesus, that descent from divinity to
humanity, is such a superlative sign of Jesus’ power, then the descent into
hell strings up blinking lights and erects a neon arrow to the power of Jesus
to deliver.
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has
been there first. We can trust Jesus.
descent into hell is all about the Love of God. “I’m going to Love.” The
ancient Fathers of the church engage in conversation around this question, and
they acknowledge that this is God’s way of making certain that no one misses
the offer of God’s grace, that no one misses the opportunity to say Yes to God,
not even those who lived and died before Jesus. They even address the question
of whether the betrayer, Judas himself, who committed suicide after betraying
his Lord, had one more chance to hear the gospel direct from Jesus himself (ACCS). The New Testament epistles
describe Jesus “preaching to the spirits in prison” and “leading captivity
captive” as he rises from hell and death. The Revelation introduces Jesus as
the one who holds the keys of Death and Hades (Ephesians 4:1-13, 1 Peter
3:14-4:10, and Revelation 1). No, the Devil is not in charge, not even of Hell.
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has
been there first. We can trust the love and power of Jesus.
one of the ancient hymn writers, who lived roughly from 348-413, leaves these
lyrics for us:
That the dead
might know salvation,
      who in limbo long had dwelt,
Into hell with
love he entered;
      to him yield the broken gates
As the bolts and
massive hinges
      fall asunder at his word.
Now the door of
ready entrance,
      but forbidding all return
Outward swings as
bars are loosened
      and sends forth the prisoned souls
By reversal of
the mandate,
      treading its threshold once more.
Hymns 9.70-75, ACCS NT XI, James-Jude, p
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has
been there first. We can trust the love and power of Jesus.
commends his Spirit into the hands of his Father. Jesus submits himself to
Death and Hell. Jesus redeems the destruction of Death and destroys the power
of Hell. Because he loves us.
      BC Comic: “Oh, my goodness… Says here… Jesus
descended into hell!” “You’re kidding!” “Oh, no, not to stay. He just dropped
in to cancel our reservations.” (2002)
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has
been there first. We can trust the power and love of Jesus. Love Won. No matter what hell we face, we are going to Love.
Hauerwas, Cross-Shattered Christ
Moltmann, The Crucified God
Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John
Brown, The Gospel According to John
A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke
Graham Scroggie, Guide to the Gospels
Bettenson, The Early Church Fathers
ACCS NT XI, James-Jude
(Prudentius hymn relative to descent into hell)
Shuman, Jessie Shuman Larkins, private email correspondence re Apostles’ Creed
Comic 2002, Mar 30