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Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit

Mar 30, 2018

Passage: Luke 23:44-46

Preacher: Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Category: Holy Week, Good Friday, Lent

Detail:

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Recall the fourth word, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But now the seventh word, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” With our sin upon Him, the Father turned from His Son as He was covered by our curse; the Holy God could not abide with the One “to be sin for us (2 Co 5:21).” When we understand that the worst part of hell is separation from God – being cut off from the author and giver of life – then we understand that this was when Jesus knew hell. For a torment that was already excruciating, at the juncture of His cry on-account of being forsaken, that was still the worst part. How could one ever know what this caused our LORD to suffer? Severed from His Father? Impossible! And yet it happened. His cry expressed horrific torment. He was already in physical pain beyond words (in this cruel slow death by asphyxiation), but at-the-moment of His knowing having been forsaken, the pain in His soul must have been even worse. Combine the two and all He could say was “My God, My God, why…?”

In-the-midst of the cross though was the rest of Psalm 22: after the cry of being forsaken, He probably prayed in His heart knowing the Psalm -- He had written -- full well: “But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid (vs 19)!” He knew that the Father was accepting His holy sacrifice. Notice that before – not after – the LORD’s final words, the curtain of the temple was torn in two: the old sacrifices were officially over; and the one final sacrifice was now finished. All-of-this the LORD knew when He finally spoke the last word: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” We know why He could pray this way since His sixth Word – “It is Finished” -- signaled what He knew: The Father was pleased to accept His becoming a curse for us. His Beloved Son accomplished what He had been sent to do. We were at that moment saved.

Thus, when Jesus prayed the last word: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” He also knew His forsaken status had passed. The Father turned back towards His Son. And for the LORD Jesus when He knew this – even while appearing so helpless and so tortured – He was full of power again. Everything was under control. All was well in the universe. In fact, it was better than well. In the power that created the heavens and the earth, He was about to enter death and death was about to receive its worst nightmare.

But physical eyes could not perceive this. All eyes could see was an even more exhausted body; closer to its ugly close; proof of having been conquered by the enemy who wins over all. And yet, that was NOT what was happening. But physical eyes could not perceive this. All eyes could see was an even more exhausted body; closer to its ugly close; proof of having been conquered by the enemy who wins over all. And yet, that was NOT what was happening.

All that the people saw or even could have heard was a miserable and desperate death. And yet, when He died He did not die miserably. He did not die desperately. He died in peace. Oh, sometimes people will try to console themselves and others at-the-moment of death and attempt to generate a kind of coping mechanism: “he looks peaceful,” “she is at peace now.” But I am not talking about such things. Peace in Scripture is vitality; peace is healing; peace is wholeness. Jesus died with peace. He was living when He died; He was living after He died. He was living with His Father, and into the Father’s hands His living spirit was received. Not only was the eternal Son of God forever in union with the Father without any interruption whatsoever; but further, also in accord with His full humanity, the LORD’s living spirit was -- at the point of His breathing His last -- also with the Father.

This is the reason why Good Friday must always be called “Good.” Know why Christian. If there is one way of describing “how the Gospel works,” if we may be somewhat mechanical for a moment, then it is to employ the word “substitute.” While Jesus lived, He was your substitute; he wore your number; he took on your skin; he bore your name (as far as legal representation is concerned: he was you). And as you -- your substitute -- He kept the Law of God. The Law of God was fulfilled by your substitute and as you trust in Jesus, you get all the credit for it.

And – furthermore – He was your substitute on the cross. On the cross He bore your sin. You cannot be condemned for it anymore – the punishment for your sin has passed. All on- account of your substitute.

But Jesus’ substitute ministry didn’t end there. It continued: the entire experience of death has been altered by your substitute. Because of what we have here in these words – the 7th word – “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.” His human spirit as substitute for you and for me, paved the way for our spirit – that which makes you, you…to know beyond all doubt that at death, you don’t die.

Picture a great guardian angel standing at the portal of death. On account of this 7th word tonight, when we come that same way again, the angel will check the records, “Ah yes, pass through, the legal record of who goes onto life confirms it; yes, you have been through here before (the substitute with your number)…this way is for you; you get to pass through the door that leads to heaven; yes, this is very much for you…because indeed, the record shows that this way of life is yours, because the One who bore your life, death, and life again has already been through here…and came through – and through all of His substitute ministry not for Himself, but for you, for you, for you; yes, Amen, come through, it has been established. This path to life is yours!”

Our hearts are properly humbled Christians as we contemplate the LORD’s passion and His unspeakable suffering for us … it has raised in us true humility and sobriety: yes, this was on-account of our sin; our need for salvation. But, Good Friday is never to be treated as a day to perform penance; it is not a day to act somber and sad so-as to – mistakenly – try to prove ourselves to be a true believer or demonstrate our worthiness for following Christ by acting like this is a sad day, a day of misery. No.

Furthermore, we are to know -- even on this most holy night of quietness for awe of what our Savior did – joy. Yes, that’s right. We are to be filled with this thought, “It was good; it is good; it’s going to be good…all of it; life is good; my death is made good; my passage into life immediately as I leave this world…is good…all on account of Good Friday; all on account of what My Savior did for me and confirms what He did for me when He prayed, “Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit.”

You all know the saying, “never judge a book by its cover.” You just can’t tell what’s in-between the cover and the back jacket without reading what is in-between. The in-between must be read if we are to know. On-account of the 7th word – the “in-between” our death and resurrection -- is glorious. Not to say that the rest of the story that we will get to in a few days is not even more so, but this – what we speak of tonight – is glorious because it is good; very good because our LORD paved the way for you and for me through His prayer: “Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit.”

When I was 13 years old, my dad took me and my mom on a cross-country trip. We drove as far east as Washington D.C. I had never been on a trip anywhere close to-being that extensive. I might as well have gone to Mars. As a very young man at age 13, I wondered about what would be on the other side of each leg of the journey…where would we stay? Who might welcome us? Who might we know? I learned that summer about where extended family members and friends lived…there was always a place for us. It was comforting to know this; and it stole the trepidation from my heart.

Take such reassurance and raise it exponentially. Make it a glorious reassurance in fact…this is the way the LORD has paved for you.

But know this as well: it is not as though we must wait around for our body to die in-order to know the blessing of being in our Heavenly Father’s hands. It is not only when we die in the body, but on-account of this 7th word, you are already NOW – if even not yet -- in the hands of the Heavenly Father, and for that matter in the hands of Jesus who has paved the way. God couldn’t wait to bless you and love you…so already you are there. And Jesus said [and I have adjusted the pronouns to the second person since you are baptized into Christ], “I give [you] eternal life, and [you] will never perish, and no one will snatch [you] out of my hand. My Father, who has given [you] to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch [you] out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).” By Christ entering the Father’s hands, your inheritance in the same place is secure; it is both now; and yet to come. Death was once the most fearful thing ever known. Now, it has been shot through by LIFE and this way belongs to you as you abide always and forever in the Father’s hands. This is the 7th word and this is your cause for great and exceeding joy on this Good Friday…yes, we are quiet, but it is not because we are sad, it is because we have an assurance that nothing else can compare to, so we treasure it in our hearts and we thank God for this good, very, very good…Friday. This is life in the Father’s hands. Praise the LORD Jesus for making it so, because He prayed from the cross, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”