And now the last of the last words. The seventh:
“Into your hands,” he said, “I commend my spirit.”
(Where does your spirit go? Who holds it?)
All this language is coded. It says what it says and it says so much more.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
Jesus didn’t invent that, hanging there.
It is a prayer of his people.
It is a line from the thirty-first Psalm.
In You, O Lord, I seek refuge;
Do not let me ever be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me.
Rescue me quickly.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
A strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress.
Take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
For you are my refuge.
Into your hands, I commend my spirit;
You have redeemed me, Faithful God.
These words are not resignation. He does not speak them and hang his head. They are fighting words. He uses his very last breath to make sure they are heard.
And with them he says to the powers that surround him, “I do not belong to you.” I do not belong to your violence and I do not belong to your fear.
It’s what the artists said when they came together this week on the Ivory Coast, to film a music video in the place where a terrorist attack occurred two weeks ago. They wrote a new song, celebrating life and denouncing hatred. They danced and clapped and in a show of solidarity they held hands and sang together “you cannot make us hide.”
Like how Jesus speaks to God, but for us: says, Violence cannot claim our spirits and fear is no currency here.
It’s what the restaurant owner in New York City said when bombs had destroyed so much. He knew people would need to gather and he knew they would need to feel safe. When every other place had boarded up their doors, he threw his open, and made giant plates of pasta, and found a chair for anyone who could come, and played music that would be good for their souls. He hugged each person that arrived. When people called, because they heard the restaurant was open, they said, “Do we need a reservation?” and to everyone the owner said, “Just come.”
Like how Jesus speaks to God, but for us: says, Violence does not own us and fear will not hold us hostage.
The crucifixion is horrific like any murder is horrific.
And it is unjust like any execution is unjust.
And it is heart-breaking like every loss is heart-breaking.
And this horror, this injustice, this heartbreak – it is ancient. And we have not yet unlearned it. It is our story every day.
(So where does your spirit go? Who holds it?)
The one we mourn tonight said to the one who was with him always: Into your hands, I commend my spirit.
The words are offering, and they are reunion.
But they are also remembrance – these are the words his people have spoken for generations.
And they are reverence – these are the words with which he acknowledges that he is not his own.
And they are resistance – these are the last words, and with them, from the cross, he says, “This is not the last word.”