Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
Today we encounter the “seventh word” of Jesus on the cross, his last word in the Gospel of Luke before he died. Jesus said, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands” (23:46). Faithful to the end, he counted on his Heavenly Father to take care of him in life beyond death.
It’s striking to me that Jesus’ final words from the cross were borrowed from the Psalms. In Psalm 31:5, David prays, “I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God.” Like many of us, in a time of great suffering, Jesus turned to the Psalms for comfort and for words to express the deep yearning of his heart.
As Jesus quoted a small portion of Psalm 31, it’s likely that he remembered the whole psalm. This fact may show us what Jesus was thinking in his last moments before dying. Psalm 31 begins with a cry for protection (31:1-3) from pursuing enemies. Then, with confidence, David shows that he trusts God even in such difficult times, “I entrust my spirit into your hand” (31:5).
Yet, a few verses later (31:9-13), David once again cries out to the Lord for mercy. Tears blur his eyes. He is dying from grief. He is scorned by his enemies. Even his friends are afraid to draw near to him. His enemies conspire to take his life. It’s easy to see why Jesus was drawn to Psalm 31 in his time of persecution and pain.
But Psalm 31 moves from desperation to confidence. David knows that his future is in God’s hands (31:15). He celebrates the Lord’s goodness and protection (31:19-20). Thus, David exalts: “Praise the LORD, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love” (31:21).
Thus, as Jesus said, “I entrust my spirit into your hands,” he was doing more than merely offering his soul to his Heavenly Father. He was also demonstrating his supreme confidence in the Father, his belief that the Father would ultimately deliver him and bless him before the whole world. Thus, the seventh word of Jesus points, not only to his death, but also beyond death to his resurrection.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have there been times in your life, weighed down by discouragement or defeat, you could do no other than entrust your life into God’s hands? How is it possible to cry out to God with desperation and also to confess his goodness and faithfulness?
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, as I pray today, I echo the “seventh word” of Jesus as he echoed the prayer of Psalm 31: “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands.” Though I am not in a place of suffering today, I realize once again that my life belongs to you. You have saved me for relationship with you and for participation in your kingdom work. You have adopted me into your family. I belong to you.
On that day, long ago, when I first “accepted Jesus into my heart,” I entrusted my spirit into you hands. Time and again, I have reaffirmed that commitment. I have given myself to you and relied on your strength to hold me up.
Once again, Lord, I entrust all that I am to you. I give you my spirit, my physical life, my family, my work, my dreams, my fears, my hopes. I entrust all that I have and all that I am into your strong, faithful, gracious, loving hands.
All praise be to you, dear Father, because you hold me, heal me, and protect me. Amen.