Twelfth Station of the Cross: Jesus dies on the cross
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– Jesus, Luke 17.33
With his last breath Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit,” (Luke 23.46, Jesus is quoting Psalm 31.5). This prayer was the condition of his entire life leading up to this moment. The statement is poetic and profound as well as intimate and insightful. Even while he is being very literally physically subjugated by his peers, church leaders, and government officials, he never confused their authority over his body with God’s authority within his spirit. He was free, even in the midst of physical, governmental, and social domination. Christ offers us a freedom which transcends circumstance.
But does that even interest us? Or we so entrenched in the idolatry of circumstance that we are completely indifferent to the depth, height, length, and width of this Divine offering?
Regularly, our faith and prayer are used to commit our spirits to our own hands. We confuse the freedom of being with Whom we want with getting what we want. We use God in our pursuit of happiness, rather than using happiness in our pursuit of God.
A few years ago, I discovered how I was using my religion to commit my spirit to my own hands. My belief in God was more about manipulation than maturation. I was trying to manipulate a happy life and believed that having the “right” beliefs or opinions about God was a way to get it. Believing the correct belief was what would make God happy and powerful in my life. This ultimately led to my holding on more tightly to my beliefs of God than the precepts and presence of God. “Beliefs” (or what can more appropriately be called, opinion) can become emotionally charged and have more to do with our pride in knowledge. And this begets fights and division and condescension.
Jesus did not fight for his life. His spirit was free and no one could give him that or take that away from him except God, Whom will only ever give it and never take it away. Anger and fighting are the product of bondage to knowledge. We are not committing our spirits into the hands of God by forming opinions of what those hands look like, who they will accept, or who they will reject. We are doing the opposite. We are attempting to commit God’s Spirit into our own hands.
How often do we fight for our honor or our rights or our beliefs or our emotions? Jesus did not define himself or others by those things, but by how God saw him and others. That is the only thing worth fighting for. But the kind of fighting that it requires looks very different from our kind of fighting. It looks like fighting our urge to fight. It looks like freely accepting death, in all of its myriad of manifestations.
“Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit; my honor, my rights, my beliefs, my thoughts, my emotions, my life.”