…into your hands…

Today’s Last Word is, literally, the last word spoken on the cross.

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 23.46

We have seen that right until the very end, Jesus was others-focused (John 19.27), and here we see that until the very end Jesus was prayer-focused, focused on communing and communicating with the Father.

The work being done, Jesus rested in the hands of the Father. Nobody took His life from His, He laid it down for you. He trusted and rested in the hands of the Father as He laid down His life willingly. Knowing His body was to be laid aside, Jesus committed His spirit to the Father in one final act of trust and obedience and communion.

Perhaps this is the most poignant Easter week since the original. The world looks like it is falling apart, doesn’t it. Everything that people had stood on for stability, built on for prosperity, or clung to for identity is just melting away before their very eyes. This produces in people an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress.

Contrast this to the last word of Jesus during His earthly incarnational life and ministry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” and we are presented with a polar-opposite choice to make; are we going to try and work our way out of this pandemic, trying to rebuild everything with our own commitment and convictions, or are we going to commit ourselves to a known, personal, loving God who has a proven track record of taking what is broken and restoring it to life?

If you have never done so, there is never a better time to echo the last word of Jesus and pray “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit, my whole life, take it and use it as you will, for your glory.”

It is finished

Today’s Last Word is also the Scripture we will look at on Good Friday at Saar Fellowship. We would love you to join us for church online this Friday at 10am Bahrain time (GMT+3).

A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19.29-30

A lot of people are caught up in works-righteousness, whether they know it or not.

If I could just…go to…do…say…be…then that would be enough…

The last word here is one of completion, utter completion. It is finished means exactly that, it is complete, totally complete. It is finished means that there is no more work to do to be reconciled to God, there is no more work to do to pay the debt that our sin has accumulated. It is finished means that there is nothing to be done anymore. 

Friend, there is nothing left for you to do but believe; not go, do, say, or be. Believe in Him. Believe Him when he said “It is finished“. This was not the exasperated cry of a criminal getting what their deeds deserve, this was a triumphant shout of victory. In the original language of the New Testament, it’s one word,

Τετέλεσται

‘Te-tel-es-tai’ = It is finished.

It means the bill has been paid in full, literally. Rest in this truth!

I thirst

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

John 19.28

What is so interesting here is that before Jesus said “I thirst“, we see that He knew that all was now finished. The work had been done, the price had been paid, He was now ready to share that with people and needed a drink to prepare His voice for one more momentous utterance.

Let’s keep this short and to the point: to receive the Good News into our lives, we need to accept the bad news about ourselves. We need to see ourselves in the cold light of day in order to admit that we too thirst. We are not great, we are not good, we are not the pinnacle of existence as we like to think we are. When we admit this, the worst is over, the biggest hurdle to our submission to the Lordship of Jesus has been overcome and we can come to Jesus and say “I thirst“. 

As He said “I thirst” knowing that all was now finished, so we too come to Him and say “I thirst, Lord, for the life you died to provide“. We say this knowing that we have reached a point in our lives where we need to drink of the living water He has to offer (John 7.37-39), and that He gives freely to all who ask.

…why have you forsaken me?

The next last word we see is found in Matthew 27.46,

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This is actually a quotation from Psalm 22, a wonderful Messianic Psalm. Louis A. Barbieri Jr. wrote on this and said that in this moment, Jesus was sensing “a separation from the Father He had never known“.

Friend, because He was separated from God the Father in this moment and because He who had never sinned became sin so that the holy and perfect justice of God may be satisfied, you and I need not ever be afraid of experiencing this separation. 

This was the moment, the beginning of the greatest spiritual transaction to ever take place; Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the entire universe past, present, and future, He took it upon Himself to drink the cup of God’s wrath (Psalm 75.8, Isaiah 51.17, Jeremiah 25.25), He endured spiritual and relational separation from God, He did all of this so that you don’t have to. 

Why did He endure all of this? For you, so that you never have to.

Death, life, virus’, pandemics, trials, tribulations, troubles, height, depth, angels, nor demons, will ever cause you to have to experience and endure what He experienced and endured that day for you. 

He was, in this moment, forsaken so that you never have to be. 

Father, forgive them…

The first saying of Jesus on the cross is found in Luke 23.34 and we read,

…Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Even to the very end, Jesus was others-focused. This will come up again and again as we move through the last things He said in His earthly life. Others. Right up to the end, Jesus was others-focused. Right up to the end, Jesus sought forgiveness for those that did not deserve it. Is there a more poignant example of His grace in action than Jesus on the cross seeking forgiveness for those literally crucifying Him?

Don Stewart writes,

He came to earth for the purpose of forgiving sinners and He loved them and forgave them up until the end.

How about you?

Is there anybody you need to forgive? Is there anybody that you need to reconcile with? Is there anybody from whom you need to ask forgiveness? We are encouraged to seek forgiveness if we have wronged others (Matthew 5.23.24) and to forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Ephesians 4.32). Seek that today.

As we move through the words of Jesus on the cross and pause to reflect on this truly incomprehensible sacrifice, let us not overlook the practical applications in our lives. Here, as Jesus said “Father, forgive them…”, let us pursue forgiveness and reconciliation with those around us today.