Here’s a trivia question for you: What precisely were Jesus’ last words on the Cross? We discussed his cry of anguish to the Father (My God, my God. . . !”), and we also mentioned his prayer for his enemies yesterday. According to Luke, his very last words before he breathed his last were also a quotation from a Psalm: “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”** So not once but twice he uttered Psalms as an expression of his emotions and thoughts.
Unlike the first quotation (a cry of despair and abandonment), the second quotation actually summarized Jesus’ entire life. From the moment of earliest childhood he was trusting his Father. When John the Baptist questioned Jesus’ baptism, the only response was that it was necessary to “fulfill all righteousness.” In other words, it’s the Father’s plan to do this, and that's all the reason we need. One of his first temptations was to show less than complete trust in the Father’s provision: Satan tried to persuade him to turn stones into bread, but our Lord was willing to wait for the Father’s timing to end the fast. Every moment of every day he consciously decided to follow the Father’s plan, and steadfastly ignored the advice of everyone else.
And this continued into his arrest, trial, torture, and execution. Peter put it this way: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” From the moment of his arrest up to his last breath, he could've ended it all with a word. When one of his disciples foolishly sought to defend his Master with a sword, what was his response? “Put your sword back in its place. . . Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Considering that one angel killed over 185,000 men in one night, I think that twelve legions (a legion was 6,000 soldiers), would be enough to do the job, if that was what Jesus wanted. But no. He was going to trust the Father.
And why is this so important to us as believers? Once again, we're saved not just by the sinlessness of Christ (as Peter mentioned above) but the positive righteousness of Christ. He is our righteousness, and we'd be fools to claim any other, especially our own. When we receive him as Savior and Lord, this perfect righteousness is "credited" to our "account."
I’d like to point out something back in Peter’s passage. Read it in context, and you’ll see that the apostle’s main concern is not teaching us doctrine about Christ. Yes, it teaches us wonderful things about Christ, but it has a practical point: We’re supposed to emulate him. In his submission to the Father’s will, he was trusting the Father to vindicate him. If he was willing to submit himself to such injustice, such evil, such malice, then where’s my right to complain about unfair treatment? Um, nowhere.
Father, I’m so quick to complain and slow to trust. I’m not very much like Jesus most of the time, am I? Please change that, as only you can.
**To be completely fair, there are some interpreters who, based on John 19:30, say that his last words were "It is finished." That's possible, but the preponderance of the interpreters I examined said that Luke's quotation is probably his actual last words just before he died.