Father Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit


‘Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.’ Luke 23:46

This was the final of the Seven Words from the cross. The three utterances given by Luke are omitted in the other Gospels, just as Luke omitted the utterances they included. All seven of these utterances of Jesus are authentic, historical words truly spoken by the world’s Saviour while upon the cross.

When He had accomplished all that was predetermined before the creation of the world in relation to the salvation of man, He gave up His spirit into the hands of the Father. The first part of the plan of redemption was accomplished. Jesus died with a prayer on His lips.

`Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

That is Psalm 31:5 with one word added, Father, Psalm 31:5. That verse was the prayer every Jewish mother taught her child to say last thing at night. Just as we were taught, maybe, to say, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ so the Jewish mother taught her child to say, before the threatening dark came down, ‘Into your hands, I commit my spirit.’

Jesus made it even more intimate, for he began it with the word Father. Even on the cross, Jesus died like a child falling asleep in his father’s arms.

1. A Word of Intimacy.

It was also a moment of intimacy. The two belong together, trust nurtured by intimacy; intimacy nurtured by trust. The intimate word Jesus added to the words of David was Father.

‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

David cried out to his God, ‘O Lord,’ he would say, ‘You are My God.’

In David’s time, such language was radical. The Psalms of David personalises the spiritual life in a way that earlier biblical literature did not. But Jesus took it even further. He consistently spoke of and to his Father. And to his disciples, he said, ‘When you pray, say, ‘Our Father’. Luke 11:2.

This language of intimate converse with his Father he shared with his followers. He prays to the Father as he has done throughout his ministry. For Jesus, death is no out of control enemy. No matter how bleak the moment, he knows his Father is present with him, now present to receive his spirit.

2. A Word of Trust.

Second, Jesus entrusts himself to his Father. In Psalm 31:5 the word ‘commit’ is the Hebrew verb ‘paqad’. The corresponding Greek word means to entrust to someone for safekeeping, give over, entrust, commend, As He lets go of this life, Jesus trusts his eternal destiny to the Father’s everlasting arms.

3. A Word of Surrender.

Finally, Jesus speaks a word of surrender. He gives up His human life to his Father who gave it to Him 33 years before. The word ‘spirit’ is the common word ‘pneuma’, which means breathing, breath of life. It can refer to the Holy Spirit, but here it refers to the personal spirit of Jesus, part of the human personality, Hebrews 4:12 / 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

He gave up his life as a voluntary sacrifice. The loud voice just mentioned was significant. The loud voice shows that Jesus did not die of exhaustion. If death had come from exhaustion, his vocal cords would not have functioned at all. Jesus’ death was conscious and voluntary, fulfilling his prophecy recorded in John, John 10:17-18.

Jesus prays his final prayer with this kind of equanimity and peace because He knows the Father, and knows that there is life with the Father beyond death. As a devout Jew, He has prayed these words as part of an evening prayer all His life. Now at the end of His life, He prays them one last time and lets go of human life in order to embrace the Life that the Father has to offer in His own presence.

Death had no legitimate power over the sinless son of God, Philippians 1:20-23.