Word of the Week

I Surrender All

The Last Word from the Cross:

Jesus called out with a loud voice:“Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46 

“Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”

As we sit here with the very last word of Christ, death has come. We have reached the end of our watching and waiting by the cross. For the first followers of Jesus sitting by the cross that day, there was nothing more to do. Nothing.

If we read earlier in this passage, we know that symbols of this death were all around before Jesus spoke his last.  Darkness fell over the whole land. The sun literally stopped shinning in disapproval.  Many signs of God’s presence in creation were gone. It was a shattering moment— a moment that people of faith or no faith at all were forced to recognize. Everything was changing. Everything had changed with those last breaths of the one who was called God with Us.

There’s an old gospel song that I imagine many of you know: “All to Jesus, I Surrender, All to him I freely give. I will ever love and trust him and know that thou art mine.” And it was in those moments that the cross presented Jesus a choice. What would he do with his final breaths? Who would he bless? Who would he curse? Or, would he surrender to something greater than himself?

Yet, if you have sat beside the death of any, you know that the last of the last words are always hauntingly important. They are the words that stick with us, that we hear played in our head over and over after they have passed. We recite them to others. We remember them often times more than anything else the dying person has said previously.

So, if you only listen to one word of Christ, hear this:

When Jesus uttered his last, we hear in this utterance an acceptance of his death. What we hear is not a combative last wish, or an “I wish I’d done more of this.”  Or, “Why aren’t there more people here mourning my death?” But, an, “I accept the fact that even though this all is so painful and uncertain I WILL leave this earth in acknowledgement of my Father God.” I will surrender my life the plans of the one who sent me here.

“Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” 

Even more so, what we hear in Christ is a TRUST in the Father to handle what he could not—the mystery. There was no provable assurance of what would come next. There was much pain and few comforting presences gathered around him.

Sure, there was the hope of resurrection. Sure, this hope meant there could be good things to come. But in the pain and the agony of that moment of that very last breath type of moment, none of this was present, none of this was certain.

I believe this is where the cross often leads us, if we are going to be people who follow in its way. When we leave the cross, there is nothing more we can do than surrender. There is nothing more we can do than to lift up our hands acknowledge there’s a God who has a plan and who is working to bring even the most difficult circumstances for the good—even when we feel the most lost, forsaken and in our deepest pits. There’s nothing more we can do than sing, “I surrender all.”

It’s a difficult choice to give up our ability to control, to have our say, to seek to make things go as we wish. It’s frightening to just do the simple thing of “letting go.” It’s anxiety producing to look death in the face and not run away.

Yet, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

But, my friends, Jesus taught us that day that we aren’t just surrendering to anybody. We aren’t surrendering our lives to one that will toss us aside, ignore us, or not feel the agony of every tear we cry.

No, we can have confidence in the one in whom we are surrendering too: a God who was present with Jesus at Calvary, a God whom meets us in death.

Nineteenth century pastor and writer, Andrew Murray said this about surrender, “God is ready to assume full responsibility for a life wholly yielded to him.” It's God's job then to take our lives, take our deaths and make something useful of them once our surrender has been given.

So, In the darkness we surrender. In the pain we surrender. In the unknowing we surrender. Because yea though we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, we will fear NO evil. For we know, yes, we know who is with us; a loving God in whom we can commend our spirits.