This brief sermon was part of a seven last words of Christ from the cross service at First Baptist Church (Niagara Falls, New York).  My assignment was the seventh word: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).  Much more could be said, but I was working with a ten minute time limit.  I’ve preached on the larger context here.  The prepared text is below and the video is available here and is also embedded at the bottom of this page.


Ad for the service where I'm preaching on Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit

Luke
23:46

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into
your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed
his last.

(ESV)

  1. Jesus’
    seventh word on the cross committed His spirit into the hands of His
    Father in heaven.

    1. Committing
      His spirit into the hands of His Father is a fitting conclusion to
      the words of Christ on the cross. Both Matthew 27:46 and Mark
      15:34 give us Jesus’ last word from Psalm 22:1, saying, “My
      God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew and Mark
      understood that Psalm 22:1 is prophetic and that it was fulfilled
      on the cross when Jesus cried it out loud. Thus both Matthew and
      Mark highlighted the objective reality that God had abandoned Jesus
      on the cross and that God poured out His wrath upon Jesus. We know
      that God was not personally angry with Jesus but Jesus endured
      God’s wrath for us and Jesus was forsaken by the Father for us.
      Jesus felt that abandonment in His very soul and we hear that as He
      says it in Aramaic and as we hear it translated. However, Jesus
      also did not feel alone on the cross and He wasn’t alone. Thus
      the three words of Jesus on the cross in Luke reflect the
      subjective reality that Jesus was in perfect communion with the
      Father while on the cross. Jesus says, “Father, forgive them for
      they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); he told the repentant
      evildoer, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43);
      and now says, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit”
      (Luke 23:46). Luke intends for us to infer from these last two
      that Jesus’ spirit went to be with the Father in Heaven when He
      died. And Luke wants us to appreciate from all three that Jesus
      did not feel alone on the cross and that this was a valid view of
      His situation. Indeed, this subjective reality was possible
      because Jesus personally was innocent and because Jesus is not only
      fully human but also fully divine. In other words, Jesus can say,
      “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and say, “Father,
      into Your hands I commit My spirit” and not contradict Himself
      for it only appears to be contradictory—it is not contradictory
      in reality. But allowing Luke to have the last of the last words
      is fitting since even Psalm 22 later says that God “has not
      hidden His face from Him” (Psalm 22:24) and ends with expressions
      of faith. (Thus the seventh word is a fitting conclusion to the
      words of Christ on the cross. But the seventh word also did
      something.)

    2. When
      Jesus said “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit,” He did
      just that. These were not empty words. To be sure they are a
      statement of faith. Jesus was quoting Psalm 31:5, which reads,
      “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O YHWH,
      faithful God.” This is a verse full of faith and trust in a
      psalm that is full of such statements. But the seventh word was
      not just a verbal expression of Jesus’ active faith and trust in
      the Father. Grammatically we speak of it as performative. That
      is, the seventh word accomplished the very thing that was spoken.
      Just as God said, “Let there be light” and there was light or
      just as Pastor Kathleen said in December “I now pronounce you
      husband and wife” those words made Michele and I married. Thus
      Jesus said, “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit” and by
      saying this He breathed out His spirit. Modern translations often
      say “He breathed His last.” I kinda prefer the way the old
      English versions put it: “He gave up the ghost.” Either way,
      “He breathed His last” and “He gave up the ghost” are
      euphemistic idioms meaning “he died” like when we say he passed
      away, he is resting in peace, he departed, he was called home, he
      is in a better place, he met his maker, he kicked the bucket, or
      his body is, in the immortal words of Monty Python, bereft of life.
      The Greek word literally means to breathe out but the Gospel
      writers used it euphemistically for dying like expiring. It is a
      euphemism for dying that is fitting because it conveys this idea of
      Jesus breathing out His spirit with His last breath. That’s why
      the Gospels used that euphemism instead of another one. I prefer
      the old English translation because it brings out the connection –
      “He gave up the ghost” or to update the language we might say
      “He gave up His spirit.” Those who died on a cross ordinarily
      would continue to suffer for much longer, but Jesus committed His
      spirit into the hands of the Father and by saying this He breathed
      out His spirit. (Jesus’ seventh word did something else too.)

  2. Jesus’
    seventh word leads some evildoers everywhere to praise God saying
    Jesus was innocent.

    1. The
      Roman centurion praised God saying Jesus was innocent in the very
      next verse.
      The
      centurion
      saw
      Jesus say this seventh word as He breathed out His final breath.
      It says, “Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he
      praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent’” (Luke
      23:47).
      The
      centurion
      realized that Jesus was innocent when he saw that trusting faith
      with which Jesus faced death
      and
      how God answered that faith
      .
      He
      praised God because Jesus spoke this word of committal and it was
      so. This centurion had probably seen many crucifixions in his
      career but this was the first time he had seen anything like this.
      Being crucified was a sign of being under a curse but Jesus’ word
      was heard by God.
      Furthermore,
      this centurion had also heard the exchange between the two
      criminals where the one rebuked the other, saying, “Do you not
      fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
      And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our
      deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41).
      And
      now
      seeing
      what had taken place
      the
      centurion
      was compelled to agree that Jesus was indeed innocent
      .
      It
      is worth noting that Luke chose a different word for the criminals
      than we find in the other Gospels –
      Luke
      uses

      a compound word of evil and doer. Those two men were evildoers or
      wrongdoers. They were wrongdoers but Jesus did nothing wrong. Or
      in the words of the centurion, Jesus was innocent. The centurion
      who says this was one of the soldiers.
      You
      will remember that the soldiers
      also
      mocked
      Jesus.
      But
      now like the repentant wrongdoer to whom Jesus promised, “Today
      you will be with me in Paradise,” the centurion expressed faith
      in Jesus.

    2. The
      seventh word continues to have this effect today f
      or
      an
      innocent Jesus died in place of us
      who
      were
      evildoers
      and
      who
      call upon Him for salvation.
      The
      crucifixion of an innocent man is a tragedy. The crucifixion of
      the only
      sinless
      person
      to ever live is a monumental tragedy. The only tragedy that is
      greater than this is that there are wrongdoers who don’t turn to
      Jesus for salvation and thus won’t commit
      themselves,
      body and spirit,

      to the Father.
      Some
      are in open rebellion against God and others think they are a
      pretty good person and don’t see what all the fuss is about. But
      for everyone who hears this word and believes, we praise God and
      recognize that Jesus is the one who is innocent
      and
      He died in the place of
      those
      who have done wrong
      .
      But
      death
      will
      not

      get the last word.
      Thanks
      be to God. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: