Study for Crucifixion (1947) by Graham Sutherland, CC BY-NC 2.0
you were not only tempted for forty days down by the Jordan
but constantly all through your ministry.
Not to obvious blatant sins
but to the subtler deflections from the Father’s will;
to cunning compromise which would defeat the Father’s purpose.
As when the presence of the seeking Greeks
suggested the possibility of a wider mission
in which you might have been listened to and welcomed,
without the necessity of the cross.
As when in the Garden of Olives across the valley,
you wrestled with the doubt that death could be the Father’s will.
Or when, in the presence of Pilate
you might have pleaded your case with your accusers;
or in those fiercest moments of pain,
acquiesced to the mocking cry of the crowd to
‘Come down from the cross and we will believe,’
Until one temptation remained –
the final test, the last claim of love,
the fiercest attack of evil –
more subtle and shattering than the rest,
when, cloaked in a blanket of darkness
came the whispering doubt:
What if God too has forsaken you?
And at last, the battle done, the last temptation met,
faith complete, the task finished, evil defeated,
love triumphant, you said:
‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit –
the rest lies with you, Father, dear Father.’
And then it was that by the cross with its limp body
there must surely have sounded the voice from heaven
‘This is my beloved Son.’
Son in call,
Son in obedience,
Son in love
Son in death and in triumphant life.
George Appleton, 1902 – 1993, Anglican Bishop in England and Jerusalem
It was now about noon,
and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,
for the sun stopped shining.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he had said this, he breathed his last.