Easter 2017 - Father Into Your hands I Commit Your Spirit

Jesus last words on the cross.

At our church’s evening meeting on Good Friday we have seven speakers preach from the seven things Jesus said while on the cross. Creatively called: Words from the Cross

I’m not exactly sure who came up with the order of what Jesus says, but this year I have the last one. Luke 23:46

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he had said this, he breathed his last.

An Aside - What was the Last Word?

The second last “word” is in Matthew 27:46, where Jesus expresses his distress at his father turning away from him: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”. My “word” from Luke is likely in Matthew 27:50, perhaps just a few moments later.

There’s also John 19:30 where Jesus says “It is finished”. This one is much harder to pick as coming before or after my word. I’m guessing the people who decided the order thought “he gave up his spirit” at the end of v30 corresponds to my word from Luke. Personally, I think it makes sense the other way around: my word is second last (being longer) and John’s single word (in the original) “it is finished” was the last.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter too much. (Well, not to me anyway.)


Weird thing straight up: Jesus speaks with a “loud voice”.

This is unusual because speaking while being crucified is rather difficult. Yelling all the more so.

Crucifixion killed by suffocating the victim. The poor person on the cross cannot breath properly when they relax, and has to work and struggle to (painfully) lift their upper body up enough to breath. Eventually, when they were so exhausted that they couldn’t move, they suffocated and died.

So Jesus calling out loudly should grab our attention. (It certainly grabbed the attention of the Centurion attending the crucifixion in verse 47.)


In his last words, Jesus “commits” his spirit.

“Commit” indicates that you trust someone. The Holman Christian Standard Version (the main Bible translation I’ve been using for the last few years) has “entrust”. So Jesus is trusting his father in some way on the cross.

Except “commit” is trust on steroids. It’s trust plus. Or trust with no turning back.

When you “commit” you trust so much that you make it impossible to un-trust. That is, you burn your bridges. You abandon all hope of returning. You turn off the undo feature.

In my IT life, I deal with databases quite a bit. Things like Microsoft SQL Server and others. And I love database transactions. They let you try to make a bunch of changes to the database, and then decide if you want to keep them or not. If you decide you don’t like them you rollback your transaction, and it’s as if it never happened (the ultimate CTRL+Z). If the changes are good you commit the transaction and it is set in stone forever - no undo is possible.

I think this is the kind of thing Jesus does when he commits to his father: he puts his own life (or “spirit” in Jesus’ words) on the line as he dies, and trusts God his father to somehow preserve him.

And there is no undo button or turning back after death.


The object of Jesus’ trust is God his father. That is, he commits his life to God.

It is very striking that in all the gospels God is nowhere to be seen, heard or otherwise influence events when Jesus is crucified. (Which makes Jesus’ commitment all the more powerful).

So the object of Jesus’ trust cannot be examined or discussed from this passage. That is, we aren’t sure if the hands Jesus commits to have any hope at all of holding him. Will Jesus’ last action of “committing” make any difference?

It’s tempting to say “of course it does!” or “of course God will save his own son!”.

Except he doesn’t save. Jesus dies in the next sentence.

Jesus is quoting Psalm 31 when he says “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. And, that’s our link into what Jesus is thinking in those last words. It’s how we know if his father’s hands will hold or not.

You’ll need to click the link to read the Psalm in full. A basic summary is: King David cry’s out loudly and repeatedly to God for help in his distress. And God answers David’s cry to “preserve” him, promises “good things” and gives refuge in his “shelter”.

So the object of Jesus’ trust is faithful and worthy of trust.

However, I don’t think Jesus is looking for rescue from the cross. David was definitely looking for a rescuer or deliverer in the (many) sticky and dangerous situations he got into. But not Jesus.

Jesus knows his death is inevitable and imminent. Even more than that, he knows his death is required; it is his mission and purpose. So, instead of asking to not die (which would be rather high on my agenda), he asks his father for shelter after death.

That is, he is crying out for God to preserve his soul or spirit after his death. And he expects God will be just as faithful beyond the grave as he was to David.

God proves his faithfulness on Easter Sunday or resurrection day, when Jesus is raised to life.


In all Bible studies and sermons at my church, we consider what the passage means for us.

This application is simple: where is your trust?

All of us put our trust in lots of places, and I am no exception. I trust my wife will look after me. I trust my house will protect me from the elements. I have a savings account with a few thousand dollars in it, which I trust to get me out of financial trouble (although it doesn’t go very far).

About the least trust I have is in the hard drives with my family photos and movies. I have my photos stored in 6 different places (live disks (mirrored of course), backup disks, archive disks, cloud, etc), in 3 different formats (plain copies, Crashplan, File History), and in two physical locations (my house and in the US Crashplan datacenter). This reflects how often things go wrong with computers, and how paranoid I am with backups. I absolutely don’t commit to any single backup strategy.

But there is only chance to commit when you die. There is no possible backup plan you can have. You can only choose between Jesus or not.

So, more to the point, will you commit to God at your death? Commit to him such that you abandon all other options and rely entirely on him to preserve you after death.

Because there is no other backup plan possible after the grave.