It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 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 23:44-47, NIV)We have a hard time letting go of control over our spirit. It's not so much a trust in ourselves as it is a hesitancy to trust God. Jesus was divine, but he was also human . . . very human. In the garden, he gave voice to his humanity, asking the Father, "if you are willing, take this cup from me."
Remember, this isn't yet the resurrected Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father. This is the very human Jesus who wants to obey his Father but must summon every ounce of faith to do so. Yes, I believe that's what it took at that moment on the cross for Jesus to let go of his life and trust his spirit to the Father . . . faith. But not blind faith. Rather, a faith born of a relationship bathed in constant communion - and communication - with his Father.
I don't believe Jesus had any guarantees. There are no guarantees when you're human, because you don't yet know the outcome. No, what Jesus had was a promise, the same as we have. A promise that the Father would, in the end, raise him up.
When Jesus realized that his mission to humankind was completed ("it is finished"), he willingly committed his spirit to the Father, trusting his Father - whom he knew intimately - to keep His promise.
But it wasn't the first time he had "committed" his spirit to the Father. Far from it. He committed his spirit to the Father in the desert when he was tempted . . . and whenever broken bodies or broken spirits were brought to him for healing . . . and when the people turned to him for a word from God . . . and when he was unjustly accused by religious leaders and government authorities . . . and I could go on, but you get the idea. Committing his spirit to the Father wasn't simply a final act for Jesus . . . it was a way of life.
Last year, I produced a series of Baptist Briefs videos on the Youth Revival Movement for the Texas Baptists Committed Web site. No book has ever moved me as much as the late Bruce McIver's Riding the Wind of God: A Personal History of the Youth Revival Movement. What moved me most was the faith of a group of Baylor students, among them Bruce McIver, who started that movement in the mid-1940s. They almost immediately realized that the vision that God had given them was too big for them to accomplish, so they spent hours . . . and hours . . . and more hours . . . in prayer. They were often up 'til 2 or 3 in the morning, praying together in their dorm rooms.
In Chapter Six, Bruce McIver tells about Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China in the mid-1800s. He quotes Taylor as listing "three echelons, or levels, of praying" that he had discovered in his missionary experience:
First: "O, God, let me do your work.""A century later," McIver goes on to write, "hundreds of students at Baylor moved through these same echelons. . . . In a deep sense that can only come through prayer, there was a quiet cry, 'use me' or make us 'usable.'"
Second: "O God, let me help you do your work."
Third: "O, God, do your work through me."
A miracle is simply God doing His work through people. Miracles are not rare if you know where to look for them . . . or how to pray for them. But it takes faith born of an intimate, daily relationship with the Father. And it takes people who, with no guarantees - but with a promise of the Father's presence - will pray, "O God, do your work through me" and then "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."