“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” – Luke 23:46
“Do you trust me?” As my children were first being introduced to the pleasure of swimming it took some effort to get them to jump from the ledge into my arms. Standing there ready to receive them as they shook in fear at jumping into the unknown watery world I would ask, “Do you trust me?” In the same way I had to confront my own fears as I waded through the darkness of my own life in 2014. In the midst of a soul-crushing employer, the devastation of my wife’s health, and the overwhelming anguish of my mother’s battle with Ebola, I had to look passages like Romans 8:28 straight in the eye and listen to the voice of God asking me, “do you trust me?”
In the storyline of the Bible, this question pierces to the heart. Will you trust God? In some ways, this question is the very essence of true discipleship. Jesus calls each of us to turn from our former lives of death and sin and turn to a life of following him. That is predicated on this very question: do you trust God? And while the question may be something we want to answer quickly, we should consider Jesus’ life so that we answer it wisely.
Adam and Eve didn’t trust God, so they took and ate the fruit. Abraham failed to trust God and trusted his own cleverness to produce the offspring God was promising. Rebecca and Jacob didn’t trust God’s plan and stole the birthright and blessing of his older brother Esau. Moses didn’t trust God and struck the rock failing to enter the promised land. The Israelites after the Exodus didn’t trust God as they listened to the spies’ report and determined God couldn’t handle a few tall men. Israel continued a pattern of mistrust through the entire time of Judges and instead did everything that was right in their own eyes. David, in stubborn weakness, failed to trust God’s provision for him and seized what was not his then murdered to cover his tracks. His son Solomon failed to trust God’s gift of wisdom and instead lusted after the gods of the nations. The kingdom fell and the track record continues on to this day in all of us: We all fail to trust God.
Yet for Jesus the question of trust was raised before the foundation of the world. Did he trust the Father in his “definite plan and foreknowledge” to send the Son as a human (Acts 2:23)? Did he trust the Father as he submitted himself to baptism? As he was sent to the wilderness in temptation? As he endured hostility from his family and neighbors? As he was criticized by the religious leaders? As he was attacked by demon-possessed accusers? As he was denied by a close friend? As he was betrayed for thirty silver peices by someone in his inner circle? As he was handed over to an unjust court? As he was passed over for a crooked murderer? As he was beaten by a foreign army? As he laughed at by his own people? As he was abandoned by his followers? As he was humiliated to carry the instrument of his death? As he was mocked and jeered at by the entire world? And as his Father turned his back on him and Jesus took the sins of his people? The contrast with the other characters in Scripture couldn’t be clearer.
In every way, we are living failures. We don’t trust God or his word. He had laid out the promises, the covenant, the goal, and the glory for us. And we continually, like our fathers and mothers before us, fail to trust God. Perhaps it the hardships that we must endure that keep us away from embracing the promises. Perhaps its the seduction of this world that beckons us away from the goodness of God. It’s quite possible we’re too ambitious or too lazy to trust God and prefer our own way.
Yet as Jesus hung on the cross he says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” At his death, he demonstrates the heart of true discipleship. He with his last breath could have said, “NO! Enough!” and vindicated his name in his own power and for his own glory. He could have cursed all humanity with his last words and obliterated the entire race. But as he hung without strength and without hope of rescue coming, with no better tomorrow in view, and feeling his communion with the Father break, he portrayed perfect trust in the Father for all of us to see and hear. He trusted God in the midst of his suffering and with his last breath.
When we consider what it means to be a disciple, we must ask: Do we trust God? In the midst of the loss of family for the sake of his name, do we trust God? In the heartbreak of a cancer diagnosis, do we trust God? When we’re unjustly accused and mistreated, do we trust God? When we lose it all because the economy tanks and jobs are gone, do we trust God? When the seduction of the world calls and offers us an easier path, do we trust God? When the pleasures of this world are put before us and beckons us to give into temptation, do we trust God? When the dark night of our soul brings us to depression and anxiety, do we trust God? In every high place, in every difficult choice, and in every valley of despair, do I trust God? Our maturation into the image of Jesus Christ rests on the answer to this question.
Jesus trusted God through his entire life. Through every action and thought, Jesus looked to his Father and trusted him. And at the end, as death’s curtain fell over his eyes, he gazed up to his Father and answered fully and finally “I TRUST YOU!”
So the question stands for us. Do we trust him enough to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and go and follow him? He trusted his Father and was rewarded (Heb 12:1-2). If so, then everything about us will change. We will turn and look to his good, perfect, and pleasing ways and follow him to every pleasant pasture and through every valley of the shadow of death. We will say with the Psalmist “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack anything.”
As Jesus hung on the cross and cried out with his last breath “Father, I entrust myself to you,” he purchased for us the power to cry out with our every breath, “Jesus, I entrust myself to you.”
Jeremy Writebol (@jwritebol) has been training leaders in the church for over fourteen years. He is the author of everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present (GCD Books, 2014) and writes at jwritebol.net. He is the pastor of Woodside Bible Church’s Plymouth, MI campus.