Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last.
One of the favorite activities at summer camp is called the “Trust Fall.” Someone stands on a platform, about 5-6 feet off the ground. Eight people stand below the platform. The person on the platform, with his or her back to the people below, falls backwards and is caught by them. The first time anyone does this, it is pretty unnerving. Because in order to fall, one has to surrender total control of their bodies to those catching below. There is definitely a “moment of truth” when you are about to fall, when you wonder, “are they REALLY going to catch me?” That’s normal, to have a little bit of doubt. In order to fall, though, there has to be enough faith that those below will catch you. What helps with this is watching others do it successfully. That gives one confidence in the catchers and faith that one will be caught and not harmed.
Of course, there are some people who won’t get up on the platform, or once on the platform, they elect not to do the trust fall. There are some who try to fall but instead of falling back and allowing their weight to be equally dispersed, they go limp sending all their weight on just two people. One could actually get hurt if they don’t do this activity correctly. They could also hurt others.
There are other instances in life, besides the trust fall, where we have to concede control to someone else. If you’ve ever been put under general anesthetic, you have to trust a doctor to render you unconscious and trust that they will bring you back. Even more common is flying on an airplane, and ceding control to the pilot who will take the plane off the ground and safely bring it back down.
The ultimate “trust fall” is for one to close his or her eyes in death, and fall into the unknown, trusting that God and all His angels will catch his or her soul, so to speak. Jesus gives the ultimate example of how to die, because at the moment of His death, He uttered the words “Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit!” (Luke 23:46) And then, we are told in John 19:30, that “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” Unlike Hollywood movies where a person dying is shown struggling, breath stopping and then head falling, Jesus lowered His head and then gave up His spirit. He surrendered.
At the beginning of this unit, we discussed why it is necessary that we die. Now, for a quick comment about why Christ had to die. There are two reasons and two comparisons with real life that will help this make sense.
First, salvation is like an algebra equation. If you take the equation, 2x +2 = 6, x = 2, and you arrive at that by subtracting two from both sides and dividing by two on both sides. Whatever happens on one side must happen on the other. When God created human beings, He made us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), so that man could live forever, like God. We were not created to die. After the Fall, as we have previously discussed, a Pandora’s Box of consequences opened on humanity’s side of the equation. Now people got sick, tired, angry, frustrated and eventually died.
Which leads to the second comparison for real life, which is the concept of paying a remittance. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” In other words, because of the Fall, we now owed a debt of death. When someone has a credit card bill, or some other kind of debt, they receive a statement in the mail that comes with a “remittance,” a place for payment to be made. If I owe $200 to the credit card company, I “remit” $200 in the form of a check and the debt is paid. If I owe the money and YOU write a check to the credit card company for the $200, the credit card company won’t mind. They’ll clear my account to $0, regardless of who pays the debt. And so God, through the Incarnation, sent Jesus to pay the remittance of death that we owe God because of our sins. And the way this happened was that Jesus came to earth and balanced the algebra equation, by suffering on His side, in the same way we suffer on ours, right up to the point of death. In John 19:30, before bowing His head and surrendering His spirit, Jesus uttered the words “It is finished.” In other words, the equation was now balanced. We must die. Therefore, He would die. And He died the way someone does a trust fall, He placed His total trust in God and surrendered His spirit. And the equation was now balanced.
Next on His side, He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. The equation now again is unbalanced, because we have yet to die. If we live in faith, and die with faith, then we have the potential, through His grace, to be resurrected, ascend to heaven and sit at the right hand of God, which we know from a previous reflection will be permanent, we won’t be able to fall from there if He grants us to sit at His right hand.
The previous reflection discussed how we have to put up a good fight when it comes to living, and even in dealing with illness. But at some point we have to surrender. I’ve done the trust fall so many times at camp, that when it comes time to do it, I actually relax, close my eyes and just fall, and every time I’m fine. It hardly gets my heart rate up anymore. Ideally, I hope my exit from this life works in the same way. I hope that I am so comfortable with my faith and with my relationship with God that when the time comes for me to pass, that I can close my eyes, relax, and just let go, confident that He is going to catch me. In the journey of those who have serious illness and who run out of treatment options, there hopefully is a time when they recognize that all avenues have been pursued and now it is time to just surrender. As we will read shortly, a person’s family, as well as their priest and church family can do a lot to help someone surrender. The greatest help, though, is practicing through life, surrendering control to God about small things, so that when the ultimate thing, death, comes, we are comfortable with the concept of faith, and also of surrender.
O, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thy commandments makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep Thy precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Thy word. I do not turn aside from Thy ordinances, for Thou has taught me. How sweet are Thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:97-104
We will all be on the platform one day to make the ultimate trust fall. Seeing others do it (dying with faith) will help. Thinking about the day we will do it will help. And building faith by trusting God throughout life will help. Make sure that as you go through life, that you think about and prepare for the ultimate trust fall you will make one day.