We’ve been going through the book of John, and in the course of doing so, we’re taking a minor detour and examining the seven statements Jesus made from the cross. Last week we posted on his sixth statement, “It is finished.” Today we’re looking at the final statement Jesus made from the cross:
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 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.Luke 23:44-46
According to Keener, “the sixth hour” would come just before noon, and the “the ninth hour” just before 3 pm, so just three hours passed. The speed with which Jesus died was atypical of those who perish from crucifixion, it happened much faster than usual. “The sun’s light failed” and there was darkness over the land. The Son, the light of the world, hung there on the cross dying, and the absence of light resulted in darkness.
The curtain of the temple outside of the holy of holies where no mortal could enter, where only the high priest was permitted once a year, the barrier between the holy of holies inhabited by God, and the world outside of the holy of holies was torn in two. Jesus spoke of this to the woman at the well. “The hour is coming,” Jesus said, “when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
The veil is rent, the curtain is torn, and now the high priest isn’t the only one who has access to God. Because of Jesus, anyone and everyone can now experience intimacy with the Father.
Where Do I Run?
Now that God’s available, the only question is, will anyone and everyone give themselves to the Father? Will I give myself to the Father? Will you?
Jesus cries out with a loud voice and says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” He’s been tortured and tormented. He knew it was going to be unimaginably hard. He’d been prophesying about it for some time before “his hour” had come. We know he knew how hard it was going to be because he sweat great drops of blood in the Garden. And he asked his Father, if there was any way possible for Him to take this cup away. He asked three times.
He was mocked, scourged, beaten, bloodied, wrongly accused, and nailed to a cross. But maybe worst of all was the separation he endured from his Father. The outlook couldn’t have been more bleak. It’s so bad, even darkness covered all the land. And it’s at this moment, his darkest moment, that he says in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
He was quoting Psalm 31:5. According to tradition, this is a line that was often shared at the time of the evening offering, about the same time as Jesus’ death. The verses before Psalm 31:5 provide the perfect context. “Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your names sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit.” (Psalm 31:2-5)
In his moment of great trouble, he commended himself to his Rock and his Refuge. He just surrendered everything. He gave his whole self over to God. At his lowest he just gave it all up. He commended his spirit. He gave himself to the One he trusted most, His Father.
The other day I learned something about someone I love and care about. This man is a salt of the earth person and I admire him so much. He’s one of these guys who just looks for every opportunity to do good for others. Solid guy. Loves Jesus and he loves people. This salt of the earth man found out his wife is having an affair. Betrayal has to be one of the worst experiences anyone can endure. The surprise that hammers us when someone you love and trust does something completely unexpected: It just rips your guts out.
But this man, he’s going to get through this. The reason I know he will is because of the way he responded to the news. He’s commending his spirit to the Father. He’s running toward God. He’s casting his anxieties on Him, because he knows He cares for him. He’s commending himself to the One who revives the spirit of the lowly. He’s pouring out his heart before Him because he knows the Father is his refuge, a stronghold in his day of trouble. God is his fortress. God is his refuge. (1 Peter 5:7, Isaiah 57:15, Psalm 62:8, Nahum 1:7, Psalm 31:1-5)
The day of trouble. There are those who have experienced the day of trouble, and there are those who will. None of us escapes it. The only question is, how will you respond. I’ve experienced it myself and I’ve seen many friends and family go through it too. Based on what I’ve seen, and what I see in scripture, I’m completely convinced that anyone can make it through anything,
as long as they respond by commending their spirit to our Father.
He is a very present help in our time of need.
Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament,
InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 255
Image of Christ on the Cross between Two Thieves by Peter Paul Rubens via Wikimedia Commons — Public Domain