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“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,” (St. Luke 22:44–46).
It’s no more natural for the sun’s light to fail from noon to 3pm than it is for a human being to be crucified, much less the innocent Son of God. In this remarkable final statement of Jesus, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Sprit,” Jesus demonstrates that He was in control until the very end. He did not die of exhaustion, nor did anyone take His life from Him. “No one takes my life from me,” our Lord says, “but I lay it down of my own accord,” (St. John 10:18).
Having spoken His final words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” Jesus laid down His life. He used His final breath to entrust Himself to His heavenly Father, using words first prayed by David in Psalm 31, words that were prayed when it looked like the end was near.
Bloodthirsty Saul had been chasing David all over the wilderness, and now he had David right where he wanted him. Saul was on one side of the mountain and David was on the other. Just as Saul and his men were closing in on David, a messenger came and told Saul the Philistines were causing trouble. Now the Philistines caused all kinds of trouble for David too (Goliath was a Philistine), but in this case they actually saved his life. Saul had to turn around and go deal with them and had to put killing David on hold for the time being (1 Sam 23:24–29).
But make no mistake about it: this was the work of God. He used the Philistines to spare David, even as He used the enemy to punish Judah for their sin (Isaiah 44:28). God spared David at the final moment, just as he spared Isaac when he provided Abraham with a ram for the sacrifice instead of his Son (Genesis 22).
But unlike Isaac, Jesus was one Son who would not be spared the sacrifice. Unlike David, there would be no Philistine threat to distract Pilate from sentencing Jesus to death. It is fitting that it was dark while Jesus was dying on the cross, because there on the cross He was bearing the darkness of your sin. And after He had given Himself over into the hands of sinful man, He gave Himself over into the hands of His gracious Heavenly Father (St. Luke 23:46).
Your hands have worked darkness. Our Lord warns, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than your whole body go into hell,” (Matt 5:30). Human hands craft for themselves idols (Psalm 115:4). And most of all, by your hands has the innocent blood of Christ been shed (Prov. 6:17). The only thing your hands create is darkness. There is no better visual of this than the fact that Jesus hung on the cross in darkness from noon to 3pm in what should have been broad daylight.
Your hands have worked darkness, but God uses His hands to create light and life. Your are the work of the Father’s hands. He has knit you together with great care in the womb of your mother (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 139:13). By His hands He richly and daily provides you with all that you need to support this body and life. His hands defend you against all danger and guard and protect you from all evil (Small Catechism, Creed: II). With a mighty hand and outstretched arm did the Lord bring His children out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:8), and on the cross, Jesus engraved you on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). God’s hands work deliverance and salvation for His people.
This is why the temple curtain was torn in two as Jesus was commending Himself into His Father’s hands. Sin no longer keeps you at arm’s length from your true Father. Now He takes you by the hand and keeps you in His loving embrace.
As His child, your entire life is lived in the Father’s hands. Luther’s morning and evening prayers emphasize this while echoing Jesus’ words from the cross, “For into your hands I commend myself: my body and soul and all things.” In the Large Catechism Luther said “It is also useful that we form the habit of daily commending ourselves to God, with soul and body, wife, children, servants, and all that we have, against every need that may arise.” (Second Commandment, 73)
In the collect “For Pardon, Growth in Grace, and Divine Protection”, we ask that God would grant us the ability to receive with faithful perseverance from Him our sorrows as well as our joys, knowing that health and sickness, riches and poverty, and all things come by the permission of His Fatherly hand (159). So into the Father’s hands we commend ourselves, just like Abraham, David, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who put their trust in God and rejoiced in His salvation even in the face of death. He will never let go of your hand.
Soli Deo Gloria
+Rev. Eric Andersen
St. Luke 23:46
Good Friday, 2015: “Father, into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit”
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