Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cross-Shattered Christ: Reflection on "The Seventh (and Final) Word"

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46).

cross-shattered Christ2Stanley Hauerwas ends his 102-page book with this invitation: "So come, draw near, fear not, and behold the mystery and wonder of Jesus's cross."

What leads up to this point is a final reflection on the seventh word of Jesus. The final prayer of Jesus, like much of his life, is a direct conversation with the Father. "My Father" is one of Jesus' most-uttered phrases in John. Now, here on the cross Jesus again speaks to his Father and gives the ultimate trusting word. My life is in your hands.

Only through Jesus' laying his life in the hands of the Father can we do so. We join Jesus in his death and resurrection because Jesus at this moment trusted the Father enough to lay down his life and face hell and mysteries of the world he entered on Friday and Saturday that we'll never fully understand on this side of eternity.

Hauerwas points out that since Jesus has done this great work, he can say in Revelation 1:17-18, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades."

The person of Christ (that he took on our humanity) and the work of Christ (that he gave his life willingly to the Father) allow us to join him in his life, death, resurrection. "By giving himself up and commending his spirit to the Father," Hauerwas says, "Jesus invites and enables us to give ourselves up and become 'united with him in a death like his' (Romans 6:5)."

Jesus died so that we join with Israel, with the church worldwide in the hope that death is not the final word. Hauerwas quotes Christopher Seitz, who says God has become for us death, destroying "whatever gap we might have suspected existed between God and his complete disclosure of himself to us."

Thank you for joining me in these seven reflections on Stanley Hauerwas's Cross-Shattered Christ:Mediations on the Seven Last Words.--Greg Taylor

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