Calmness in Death
“Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit“ (Luke 23:46)
In the death of Jesus there were elements of fearfulness, which the believer can know nothing of. It was with Him the execution of a penal sentence. The sins of an elect world were bearing Him down! The very voice of His God was giving the tremendous summons, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd” (Zech. 13:7). Yet His was a death of peace, nay, of triumph! Ere He closed his eyes, light broke through the curtains of thick darkness. In the calm composure of filial confidence He breathed away his soul, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!” What was the secret of such tranquility? This is His own key to it: "I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do” (Jn. 17:4).
Reader, will it be so with you at your dying hour? Will your "work" be done? Have you already fled to Jesus? Are you reposing in Him as your only Savior, and following Him as your only pattern? Then, let death overtake you when it may, you will have nothing to do but to die! The grave will be radiant with His presence and smile. He will be standing there as He did by His own tomb of old, pointing to yours, inhabited with angel forms, nay, Himself as the Precursor, showing you the path of life! There can be no true peace till the fear of death be conquered by the sense of sins forgiven, through the blood of the Cross. "Not till then,” as one has it, “will you be able to be a quiet spectator of the open grave at the bottom of the hill which you are soon to descend.” "The sting of death is sin, but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:56.57).
Seek now to live in the enjoyment of greater filial nearness to your covenant God; and thus, when the hour of departure does come, you will be able, without irreverence, to take the very words of your dying Lord, and make them your own: "FATHER, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” FATHER, I’m coming HOME! The heart of the child leaping at the thought of the paternal home, and the paternal welcome! "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine” (Lk. 15:31).
It is said of Archbishop Leighton (1643-1715), that he "was always happiest when, from the shaking of the prison doors, he was led to hope that some of those brisk blasts would throw them open, and give him the release he coveted.” Christian, can you dread that which your Savior has already vanquished? Death! It is as the angel to Peter, breaking the dungeon doors, and leading to a new day. It is going to the world of your birthright, and leaving the one of your exile; it is the soldier at night-fall, lying down in his tent in peace, waiting the morning to receive his laurels.
Oh, to be ever living in a state of holy preparation, the mental eye gazing on the vista-view of an opening heaven, feeling that every moment is bringing us nearer and nearer that happy Home! Soon to be within reach of the heavenly threshold, in sight of the Throne! Soon to be bending in adoring rapture with the Church triumphant, bathing in floods of infinite glory! "LIKE HIM” — "seeing HIM as he is” (1 Jn. 3:2). And that for Ever and Ever!
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