Friday, April 22, 2011

Father, into Your Hands I Commit my Spirit!

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)

These are the final words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which were uttered before his death on the cross. These are the words of One who was in total control of his life and death. Jesus Christ came for this very reason and with these words we see that his purpose has been fulfilled. What comfort we can take in the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

Moments earlier on the cross we see the separation of the Father and Son when Jesus cries out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was not as if the Father forgot about his Son or completely abandoned his Son but this is the moment when the Father had to turn his face away in order to pour out his righteous wrath against sin. This is one of the most glorious and tragic moments in all of history. I would argue these most glorious and tragic moment in all of history. There was separation in the Godhead that was required in order for sinners to have a substitute. This moment is tragic because of the separation but it is glorious because of salvation. Without sin being punish God would cease to be perfectly just and without a substitute to pay the price for sin God could not justify sinners. But with the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”, we see the union of the Godhead is restored. The payment had been made for sin and now the fellowship is back because the work was finished.

Now with the work being completed and the fellowship being restored, Jesus could now lay down his life in death. The excruciating pain of crucifixion is not what killed Jesus. It was not shock or suffocation or loss of blood that put Jesus to death but rather the completion of his Father’s will. With these words we see that Jesus was in control of his death just as he said in John 10: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have authority to lay it down” (18). Here we see his claims to be true. Jesus was in control because he was and is the sovereign God over all events including his death on the cross. Jesus says, “I commit my spirit.” Death did not conquer Jesus but Jesus laid down his life. This is so amazing. We also see that this was not some last gasp of breath because the text says, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice.” Crucifixion brought about suffocation and near the end of a life the victim would barely be able to breathe let alone talk but Jesus cried out with a loud voice. No doubt he was weak after six hours upon the cross but clearly this shows us his control once again.

One of the greatest witnesses of this event comes after Jesus laid down his life. The text goes on to speak about a certain centurion who was placed by Pilate at the cross to watch over this crucifixion. Surely this man had witness many crucifixions in his line of work. He had seen how other men had died probably kicking and screaming and cursing until their life was no more. He must have seen how men walked through their trial. He must have seen how men responded to the beatings of his fellow soldiers and most likely to his own beatings of criminals. After all this was the man’s job. But something was clearly different with this man Jesus. Silently he walked through his trial. Silently he took the mockery. Silently he took the whip. Silently he carried his cross. Silently he took the nails. But once he was on the cross he spoke and his words penetrated the heart of this centurion. No doubt he heard Jesus ask the Father to forgive his executioners. No doubt he heard the tender words spoken to his mother. No doubt he heard the agony of separation. No doubt heard the conquering words: “It is finished.” And now he hears Jesus say to his Father: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” The centurion had to know at this point that Jesus was in control the whole time. He had to know Jesus laid down his life rather than dying from his execution. We see his glorious confession: “Certainly this man was innocent!...Truly this was the Son of God” (Luke 23:47; Matt. 27:54)! Jesus is the Son of God. He is the crucified Savior of sinners and he is the resurrection Lord of heaven and earth. He is God!

Grace upon grace,

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