Greetings in the name of Christ the Crucified!
The scriptural account for Jesus’ journey into death today, Good Friday, can be found here.
As we read through these accounts, I’d like to share a devotion that Nils Jakob Jensen Laache wrote for today.
Laache was the Lutheran Bishop of Nidaros in Norway from 1883 to 1892, and the book from which this devotion was pulled, The Book of Family Prayer (orig. Husandagts-Bog. Bibelstykker med Betragtninger til hver Dag, ordnede efter Kirkeaaret) was the “standard” devotional for many Norwegian Lutherans and many Norwegian-American Lutherans. It has been reissued in Norwegian over eight times, and in Norwegian-American households, was once as ubiquitous as the family copy of Rølvaag’s Giants in the Earth.
There is an excellent translation by Mark DeGarmeaux published by the ELS affiliated Lutheran Synod Book Company out of Mankato that’s easily attainable through Bethany College’s online bookstore. It is from this translation that I pull the devotion.
O Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; have mercy upon us.
John 19:30. Luke 23:46. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. […] And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.” And having said this, He breathed His last.
All that is predicted of the Messiah’s work and suffering in His state of humiliation is now finished. All that the Law demands of us Jesus has now fulfilled. He has fulfilled it perfectly for us all.
“It is finished,” this truth is what I need more than anything else in the world. “Because He has done this” – as it says finally in Psalm 22 – the kingdom is His, and there is salvation for Jews and Gentiles, for high and low, from the first sinner on earth to the last, for all, all from one end of the world to the other (Psalm 22:28-31). All is finished for me and for all. The Law condemns me because I have not kept it. But Christ makes me free, because He has kept it for me and suffered what I deserved, released me, and purchased me. The kingdom is His, and I am His. The work of Christ embraces every work necessary for our justification. All is finished, so there is no more room for any of our works to attain righteousness. He has done this, so in His kingdom there is no question about the merit of our works for salvation or the power of the Law to save and to condemn. For what He has done is truly done, and is not still to be done. Therefore it says: “Come, for all things are now ready” [Lk. 14:17]! This I will shout – O that it may be heard over all the earth! This I will confess, as long as I live, and when my time comes, I will leave, bow my head in death, and commend my soul to God with the words: “It is finished.”
The Lord began His words on the cross with prayer to the Father, and He ended with prayer to the Father. What He said between the first and last words, we have heard. What He endured, none of us can say or imagine. But it was all for us. Because He did this for me and has baptized me into His death, He is with me and in me. And therefore through all my suffering and in my last hour I can say “Heavenly Father, hear my prayer, and save me!” So Stephen in death could pray: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” [Acts 7:59], and Luther: “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth” [Ps. 31:5]. Yes, everyone who believes in Jesus, enters into communion of life with Him, the Lord victorious over death, shall go with Him from earth into paradise.
Live and suffer each day with faith in these victorious words of Jesus: “It is finished,” “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit,” and you are freed from the Law and dead to sin, and in your dying hour the faithful Holy Spirit shall whisper these words into your soul. Then you cannot be lost, but as surely as God lives, enter into eternal salvation.
“May my soul be calm and fearless As I lie expecting death; May Thy love so great and peerless Lauded be, with my last breath. When at last I fall asleep, Dearest Jesus, may I keep, Firm the faith that life and heaven By thy death to me were given.” Amen.
O sweetest Lord Immanuel,
Thou spared my soul from ceaseless hell;
Thy death, Thy pain, Thy bloody sweat
Have saved me from eternal death;
Thy capture and those cruel bands
Have freed me from the devil’s hands.
Let me consider, my life long,
Thy death, and give Thee thanks in song!
Thy merit let my comfort be
Since Thou hast saved me graciously
From Satan, sin, and hellish fire
Unto the joy of heaven’s choir!
And when my final hour shall come,
My soul to heav’n Thou callest home;
Lord Jesus Christ, with me abide;
Protect me from the devil’s pride,
Lest he with all his pow’r and might
May e’er deprive me of Thy light.
I am Thy true possession, Lord,
For Thou hast bought me by Thy blood,
Though I had wandered oft so far
Thou sought me ever to restore;
I die, Lord, if Thou leavest me,
My only comfort is in Thee.
Into Thy hands I do commend
My soul and body to the end;
Regard me as Thine own, Dear Lord,
And spare me from the hellish horde!
By Thy red blood I now am cleansed;
Receive me to Thy gracious breast!
Delivered from this vale of tears
I enter paradise with cheers;
With blesséd choir my soul shall sing
Honor and joy through heav’n shall ring;
There face to face my God I see,
His grateful child eternally.
Kingo: O Hjeterkjære Jesus Krist
In Christ’s Peace and Love,
Pastor Singer ☩