Dateline: Good Friday, March 29, 2013 A.D.
Location: Flight Level 310, 30 nautical miles west of JST (Johnstown, PA, USA)
Time: 6:45 PM
Speed and Course: GS 417 knots, course about 085 degrees magnetic
This is where we were and where we were going, in the sunshine and smooth air.
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands I com-mit my spi-rit". I was looking for something to help me bide my time with to Philly.
The autopilot was engaged, I was the pilot flying, and I had the ADF tuned to 1060. A Catholic station with a strong but distant signal was fading in and out some, but without much static.
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands I com-mit my spi-rit". A Priest with a reverent voice was singing, slowly, a beautiful chant from some unknown location. I started listening intently.
I noticed the words and remembered where they came from. Was this in one Gospel or more? The sun was behind us, and scattered, early spring cumulus clouds far below were doing the best they could to grow, not very much albeit. A weak layer of haze between the clouds was obscuring the earth in between.
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands I com-mit my spi-rit". Repeatedly, with a perfect rate and rhythm, and pause in between. These were the last words my Lord and Savior, and I hope yours too, said on the cross before he died, and 'gave his life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45).
We were still forty minutes out from landing in Philadelphia. I had time to ponder questions that arose in me. In saying this, Jesus in his bodily death gave his spirit back to the control of God the Father. So, where then, did the Father send Jesus to in between his death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day after he was crucified?
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands I com-mit my spi-rit". It was from Luke 23:46 (and Psalm 31:5), I later learned, and Luke was the only gospel these words of Jesus were recorded in.
After my good First Officer, in a precise manner, brought us back to terra-firma on Philadelphia's 5,000 foot runway - a demanding but typical feat for our CRJ200, I had time to ask Dr. Google these questions. Jesus didn't descend to Hell, per se, (yes it is in the Apostle's Creed) for more punishment for mankind's sins, all of it was paid for on the Cross. However, scripture seems to indicate that He visited Sheol/Hades, two other realms of he underworld, 'waiting areas for the dead' you might say. It is interesting and educational reading waiting for you at Got questions? and "C.A.RM.".
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands in com-mit my spi-rit". I was reminded of some of the other last words Jesus also said were ones of complete humiliation and abandonment, of separation from God. Because our sins were laid upon him - although He was without sin, He was made to become sin for us, for my sins and for your sins (2 Corin 5:17) These words of separation from God are from Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" How could Jesus issue these trusting words of finality, after He had asked God in a seemingly highly confused and anxious state (he was still human after all) "why have you forsaken me?"
I think this showed his humanness in that his reaction displays the difference between knowing that something difficult is coming and actually experiencing the overwhelming, unfamiliar emotions of it. Jesus had already sweat drops like blood, been tortured and humiliated incomprehensibly, been nailed to a cross, and now the sin guilt burden of all humanity had been laid upon him, an innocent man. Our Holy God had withdrawn His presence from Jesus, because a Holy and Perfect God cannot be in the presence of sin, it is his very nature. This is not a weakness or fault of God as post-Christian thinkers assert, but a characteristic that belies his universe and life creating majesty, honor, and glory that He deserves. Besides, our Holy God's complete presence in the midst of any sin utterly destroys that person (Moses saw God's backside - He wouldn't let Moses see his front because it would've killed him).
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands I com-mit my spi-rit". Via Max Lucado through Pastor John O'Neal, the clarity of contrast is made that Jesus is now reunited because he calls Him Father, not God, when he gives up his spirit to his control. He is separated from God because he took on the guilt and bore the punishment of MY sin; He asks "My God why have you forsaken me?". Then the work is just complete, He knows it and exclaims "It is Finished!". Then
"Fa-ther, in-to your hands I com-mit my spi-rit". I was feeling blessed by these now comforting words Jesus gave in complete trust to the Father, just as those in Christ should aspire to do in death and in life.
He is risen, He is risen indeed! The richness, the mystery, and the truth of the Gospel message is well worth your time investment in getting to know the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep. And took it up again. Jesus' resurrection is proof that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life!
God bless you, and thank you for reading my blog.