Let's consider the last of Jesus' seven momentous words from the cross. In Luke 23:44-46 we read, "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.'"
Jesus' first word on the cross began with prayer to the Father. Now His last word also begins with prayer. His first word to the Father was a request: "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." By contrast, Bible scholar and commentator A. W. Pink declared, "This was not a request but an announcement. He was going home."
Are you ready to go home to Heaven? Have you committed your life to the Father?
This seventh and last word is about reunion and rest. Let us consider Christ's rest and our rest.
1. Christ's Rest
He went from the hands of evil men to the hands of His loving Father.
For the previous 15-18 hours, Jesus was in thee hands of evil men. With their hands they whipped and beat Him. With their hands they tormented and abused Him. With their hands they jammed a crown of thorns on His head and stripped Him naked. They nailed Him to the cross and thrust a spear into His side. Wicked hands did all they could to abuse, torment, and persecute Jesus.
But they could not defeat Him! Now He returns to the Father's tender hands of love.
What about you? Are you tired of being handled by the world? Abused by evil and hurtful men? Have you committed your life into the Father's loving hands?
Jesus' crucifixion was not an accident. He gave Himself over to death to be our substitute.
His death was the fulfillment of Prophecy. This last word, like the fourth word ("My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"), is taken directly from the Psalms. Around 1000 yrs before, David exclaimed these same words in Psalm 31:1-5. But David’s words were a cry to God to deliver him from his enemies and to give him rest for his soul during his lifetime. It was a cry for mercy and deliverance.
Jesus’ prayer is in marked contrast to David’s prayer. David prayed for divine Protection from his Enemies in life. But Jesus prayed for the divine Reception of His Spirit in death. David commits his spirit to God through Life. But Jesus commits His spirit to the Father through Death. How different was the cry of Jesus as He lay dying upon the cross! It was not a cry for mercy and deliverance. Rather, it was an exclamation of victory, a declaration of triumph!
Christ’s life was not taken from Him. Instead, He gave it freely.
It was a voluntary laying down of His life and, therefore, He knew when the exact moment of His death would be. Death did not take Him by Surprise. A. W. Pink declares, "Voluntarily had the Savior delivered Himself into the hands of sinners, and now, voluntarily, He delivers His spirit into the hands of the Father."
Each of the Gospel writers pictures His death in words that would describe, not a taking away, but a giving up. Jesus' life was not taken but given.
At His trial, when Pilate challenged Him, "Don’t you realize that I have the power to either free you or crucify you?" Jesus declared that Pilate had no power or authority over Him except that which was given to him from above (John 19:10-11).
Jesus could have called upon all the vast resources of heaven to set Him free.
At His arrest, Jesus said that He could call for 12 legions of angels (Matthew 26:53). A Roman legion consisted of 5,000 or more soldiers so 12 legions equals 60,000 or more angels! And Jesus didn’t even need one angel! The One who was there at the creation of the heavens and the earth could have simply snapped His fingers and His captors would have instantly been immobilized. He could have calmly walked through the midst of them. But His mission needed to be accomplished so He was willing to be arrested, tried, condemned and crucified.
He came to be our Passover Lamb.
Think about the timing of Jesus' death. While He is on the cross, a multitude of priests are in the Temple getting ready to make the normal evening sacrifice. It was Passover and there was a great sense of awe as the Passover Lamb was about to be sacrificed. (Exodus 12:12-13 tells us the Passover lamb's blood was to be shed so that death would "pass over" the home. In the same way, Jesus' blood was shed that death would "pass over" us.) Luke tells us Jesus died at precisely 3:00pm on Friday (Luke 23:44). The Jewish historian Josephus writes that this was the exact time the priests would be making the evening sacrifice.
Hebrews 10:11-14 speaks of Reunion and Rest.
"11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."
This was Christ’s purpose: In the fullness of time to come to earth in the form of a man and to become our atoning sacrifice. He came to give His life as a ransom for many, to bring us salvation and new life, to deliver us from sin and the kingdom of unrighteousness, to restore us to the Father. This was His purpose from the beginning: He came to die!
Jesus is now on the cross and His purpose is almost accomplished. Three days from now, He will miraculously break the bonds of death and prove His divinity and His completed work by rising from the dead. But for now He cries, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
2. Our Rest
For right Now
Because Jesus was able to rest from His work of atonement, we can rest in Him. Hebrews 4:1-11 describes the rest that Joshua was not able to provide for the children of Israel but that Jesus has provided for us. We don’t have to strive or struggle or perform because Jesus did it all when He died on the cross. He declared, "It is Finished" and it continues to be finished!
Jesus came to Die, to finish His work of atonement, to make us to be "at one" with the Father. Jesus was not a Victim; He was the Victor!
He conquered sin, death, hell and the grave. He came, not just to be our example, healer, or teacher. He came to be our Savior and Redeemer, to die on the cross and take our place of punishment. He did it all!
We can Rest in Him! It's not about our striving, our efforts to perform and be a "good" Christian. It’s all about Grace. It's not about what we can Do. It's about what He has already Done on the cross on our behalf.
For All Eternity
God’s wrath has been satisfied and Jesus is now experiencing His Father’s fellowship again. Can you hear the Joy in Jesus’ voice as He tenderly says, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit"? For three hours the world has been dark. The Father had withdrawn His fellowship as He poured out His wrath on His Son. Now their fellowship is restored, never to be broken again!
Mark Altrogge is a pastor and songwriter. (He wrote the beautiful worship song, "I Stand in Awe of You.") He is also a blogger at theblazingcenter.com and shares this insight.
"This is what heaven is: unbroken, perfect, eternal fellowship with our heavenly Father through Christ. How Jesus must have looked forward to going home. How we should look forward to going home to heaven.
"Many of us spend so much time working for the things of this world, trying to improve our lot in this life, and trying to enjoy this world, that we spend little time thinking of our life to come. Yet Paul tells us to set our minds on things above, where Christ is. Peter reminds us we are strangers and exiles here, just passing through on the way to our real home, heaven. Jesus looked forward to heaven. He longed to be in his Father’s presence again.
"I want Jesus' example to inspire me to long more for heaven, to think more about it. And as I think on heaven, I also want to contemplate hell. I want Jesus to give me a greater concern for unbelievers, because heaven and hell are real."
How fearful for unbelievers when they die. Hebrews 10:31 says it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. A. W. Pink observes, "Instead of falling in the arms of love, they will fall into the hands of justice."
Although we cannot choose the time we will die, for those of us who believe, we can entrust ourselves to our heavenly Father. When we who believe in Christ finally fall asleep, we will fall into the everlasting arms of love.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." These were Jesus’ last words, and they can be your last words too. Thanks to Jesus' suffering and death, God is not your condemning Judge. He is your loving heavenly Father who has promised to be with you for all Eternity.
Death is not a frightful leap into the dark. Death is not the enemy that needs to be cursed. Leaving this life means entering into the joy of our rest!
Are you ready to go home? Are you ready for reunion and rest? Have you committed your spirit and life into the Father’s hands?