Download or listen to The Seventh Word, “Father, Into Your Hands I Entrust My Spirit” (Luke 23:46)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Father, into Your hands I entrust My Spirit.” The final Word of the obedient and completely faithful Son. Jesus finishes His life as He had begun it: the helpless Son of God at the mercy of the Father. That is not to say that it was against His Will. As the eternal Son, His Will was united with His Father’s and the Spirit’s. And that unified will was the salvation of the world. But in a body like ours, He does what sinners never do: submit to the holy will of God. The one who is in the sinful flesh does not submit to the Law of God; indeed he cannot. The one in the flesh is hostile to God. And the cross is all that hostility channeled into whip and thorn and nail. But it is far more than that: it is the willing death of God in the flesh, rather than that the enemies of God be crushed by His wrath. It was the will of God to crush Him, Isaiah says, and Jesus submitted to that will so that sin would be condemned in His flesh instead of ours.
We fear that to entrust ourselves to God will be the end of us. We do not fear, love, and trust God above all things; we would rather take our chances with us in control. To entrust ourselves to another means to believe that that one has our good at heart, and the doubt always lurks at the back of our minds that perhaps God does not have our good at heart. Perhaps His will is not good for us. We start to doubt that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him, and so we hedge our bets, take out some insurance on our futures, try to hold back or hide our deepest selves from the bright illumination of the Law. We try to keep one eye on the things of this world and one eye on God, but we can’t do it. The lusts of our flesh, the lusts of our eyes, and the pride of life always turn us to this world. And the world knows how to dress herself to kill. Everything around us whispers in suggestive tones: Did God really say? What if God does not come through? What if God does not make good on His promises? What if death really is the end?
Not Jesus; not this Son. Not even on the cross, confronted with certain death. No, He knows that His prayer, prayed centuries earlier by David, will be answered: “In you, O Yahweh, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! … Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Yahweh, faithful God. … I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become a broken vessel…But I trust in you, O Yahweh; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand…O Yahweh, let me not be put to shame” (cf. Psalm 31:1, 17). And He is not put to shame; God does not let His Anointed One see decay. He is vindicated, and the proof is the third day, when there is no one in His tomb. He became a broken vessel, pouring out His life for this dying world, and God was faithful. Do not doubt, but believe. To entrust yourself to God will be the end of you, but that is good news, because it is the end of your sinful nature, the end of your death, the end of your weakness and unbelief. You are in Christ, crucified with Him, buried with Him by baptism, and raised to new life in Him. The Spirit of Christ dwells in you, and He is the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead. Christ Himself, on the cross, entrusted you to His Father. In Him, every single night, and on your last night, and on the world’s last night, you can say with the confidence of the faithful Son, “Father, into Your hand I entrust my spirit,” and know that you are safe with Him. He cannot fail you; He will not fail you. He sees you in His Son, and you will not be ashamed. On that great Resurrection Day, the Day of the Lord, your grave, too, will be empty. The God who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, by the Spirit who dwells in you. And your life will end as it began: at the holy mercy of your Father in heaven.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
– Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 3/22/13