Father, Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit

"Into Thy Hands ..."

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.—Psalm 31:5

Frequently, the last breaths of someone who is dying include a message or testimony to those who are present. Sometimes it is an expression of love toward family and friends, or it is a request to take care of someone who is being left behind, or it is a message of instruction.

The perfect man, Jesus, gave all of these types of messages, while dying on the cross at Calvary.

Among Jesus' final words, while dying on the cross, was the expression recorded in Luke 23:46, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit."

These words are a quotation from Psalm 31:5, and are a climactic expression of Jesus' trust in the heavenly Father. However, Jesus prefaces this quotation from Psalm 31:5 with the word "Father."

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus continually referred to God as his Father. This is solid proof that Jesus was in fact the "only-begotten son" of God (John 3:16). Jesus never acknowledged Joseph as his natural father, nor did Jesus ever acknowledge his earthly life to be the beginning of his existence.

Jesus' words on the cross continue with the phrase, "into thy hands." Even in today's modern society, the expression "hands" is used symbolically to represent control or responsibility. For instance, one large insurance company's slogan is that they are "the good hands people," meaning that their customers could rest assured in their services. Some medical doctors, after having done all they can for their patient, have been known to say "the rest is in God's hands."

Complete Trust

But what did Jesus mean when he used the words "into thy hands I commend my spirit"?

David's words in Psalm 62:5,6,8 (NIV) help to answer this question, where he writes, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken . . . Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Our only true rest is in God alone.

Why can we put such trust in God? David goes on to provide an answer to this question in verses 11 and 12, where he writes: "Two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done."

A realization of both God's power and God's love should help us to develop complete trust in him, with even our very lives.

Similar thoughts are expressed in the first book of Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 21:13 says, "Let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man." God's hands are merciful. 1 Chronicles 29:12 says, "In thine hand is power and might, and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." God's hands are also powerful and mighty.

 "I Commend My Spirit"

Jesus' words on the cross continue with the phrase "I commend my spirit."

The word "commend" is Strongs 3908, -- paratithemi, and means "to place alongside," by implication, "to deposit."

In Psalm 31:5 the word "commit" is used, and in the original Hebrew it literally means "deposit." When the word "deposit" is used, it signifies that something has been left in the care of another, which has not yet been appropriated or applied.

The word "spirit" comes from Strongs 4151, pneuma, and it means the breath of life.

The Scriptures recognize man as composed of two elements, body and spirit. The term "body" applies merely to the physical organism. The term "spirit" applies to the "breath of life" or "spirit of life." These two produce soul, sentient being. Genesis 2:7 reads: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." When God created Adam he first formed him and then gave him the breath of life. The combination of a body with the breath of life, produced a soul. Man has a body and has a spirit, but is a soul.

Mankind received the spirit of life from God, the fountain of life, through father Adam. The right to this gift of life Adam forfeited by disobedience. When Adam died, his body returned to the dust as it was before creation, and the spirit of life, the privilege of living, the power or permission of living, returned to God. The spirit of life is not an intelligence, nor a person, but merely a power or privilege which has been forfeited and hence reverts to the original giver of that power or privilege.

Adam was able to transmit to his posterity a spark of vitality, but not perfection of life because he had lost all right to that. Romans 5:12 says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Verse 19 continues the same thought saying: "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners."  The psalmist says, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5).

But with our Lord Jesus it was different: he had a life that was not derived from Adam, but transferred from a heavenly condition. 1 John 4:9 reads, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him." The apostle Paul, referring to Jesus, writes: "For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26). Jesus had a right to life, and it was this life to which he had a right that he laid down when he died on the cross on behalf of, and as a redemption price for, Adam and his race.

Jesus had received the spirit of life from God the Father as a gift. Jesus had, in obedience to the Father's plan, become a man to be man's Redeemer. When yielding up his spirit of life or vital energy, he declared his reliance upon God's promise to give the spirit of life again, by a resurrection.

When Jesus died on the cross, he there finished his baptism into death. In letting go his hold on life, he surrendered it to the Father who had already promised that his life, being thus surrendered, should entitle him to a higher life under still greater favor, and this he received when he arose from the dead on the "third day," for, as the apostle declared, he was "put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit"—a spirit being (1 Peter 3:18).

A Voluntary Sacrifice

Jesus did not forfeit his right to life as had Adam. Jesus willingly gave his life. Jesus said, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51). He also said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself" (John 10:17,18).

Jesus did not surrender his life to Adam, rather Jesus merely put it into the Father's hands without specifically applying it. He has not yet made any application of his human life to Adam and his race. He has merely put it into the Father's hands. Jesus' rights to earthly life still belonged to him when he arose from the dead since he had not forfeited his right to life. Jesus does not give the church his earthly nature and earthly life rights, but keeps these to give to the world during the Millennium. The church's calling is a "heavenly calling" (Hebrews 3:1).

Since Jesus does not give the church earthly restitution blessings, and since he has no other merit to give, what does he do for the church? The answer is, this merit (which shortly is to be appropriated as the ransom-price for the sins of the whole world) is presently in the hands of justice. The one who owns that merit, Jesus, imputes it to all those who will accept the offer of this present Gospel age to surrender themselves in sacrifice to walk in Jesus' footsteps (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:1,2; Philippians 3:9).

The whole merit of Christ is mortgaged by the imputation of his merit to those consecrating during this present age. This mortgage must be released fully, completely, before the new covenant can be sealed and put into operation for giving restitution blessings to Adam and his race.

The ransom-price cannot be applied piece-meal, a little to each one. When the ransom-price is applied, it will be applied for all at the same time. Why? Because it is one life, the sacrificed life of the perfect-man Jesus, for the perfect-man Adam: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).

What lessons can we learn from these last words of Jesus, given in Luke 23:46?

Complete faith and trust in God

Jesus had total and complete trust in the heavenly Father. The apostle writes, "When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23, NIV).

Just as Jesus had complete faith and trust in God, putting his very existence into the hands of his heavenly Father, so also must we totally and completely put our faith, trust, and reliance upon God at all times, through all experiences, and under all circumstances.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:27-30).

If we remain as faithful "sheep," following the example of our Lord Jesus, we are promised that no one can pluck us from the protective hand of our Lord Jesus, or from the hand of the heavenly Father. However, being in God's "hand" does not mean immunity from hard experiences. The apostle confirms this: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."—Romans 8:35-39. NIV

Complete faith and trust in a resurrection from death

Just as our Lord Jesus had hope in God's promise for a return of his "spirit of life" by a resurrection from death, so also by Jesus' ransom sacrifice, God's promises are open to all mankind. Acts 24:15 tells us "that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." At the present time, believers can for themselves (and, by a knowledge of God's plan, for others also) commit their spirits (their powers of life) to God's hands also, as did our Lord Jesus and as did Stephen—full of faith that God's promise of a resurrection will be fulfilled.

To the world, a resurrection will mean a reorganization of a human body, and its vivifying or quickening with life—energy, the spirit of life (Greek: pneuma). To the gospel church, sharers in the "first [chief] resurrection" (Revelation 20:5), it will mean the impartation of the spirit of life or life-energy (Greek: pneuma) to a spirit body (1 Corinthians 15:42-45).

The apostle Peter writes, "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19). Here the word "commit" is also Strongs 3908, paratithemi, the same Greek word as Jesus used in Luke 23:46.

Here is the comment for April 15 from the devotional book Daily Heavenly Manna which is based on Jesus' words in Luke 23:45:

 "With full confidence our dear Redeemer looked up to the Father, and full of faith declared that he committed all of life and all of the blessed hopes for the future to the Father's love and to the Father's power—to be provided in harmony with the Father's plan and Word. And so must we, as followers in our Master's footsteps, look forward with faith, and in our dying hour commit all our interests to the keeping of him who has manifested his love for us, not only in the gift of his son as our redeemer, but all our journey through—in his providential care, as well as in the exceeding great and precious promises which go before us and give us strength, comfort and assurance."

May we all continue to develop total and complete faith and trust in God at all times, through all of life's experiences, and under all circumstances!