[Since the 16th century preachers Christians have made reflecting on The Seven Last Words of Jesus a part of a lenten preparation to celebrate Easter. The “words” are actually sentences: three from the Gospel of Luke; three from the Gospel of John, and one found both in Matthew and Mark gospels. A great many writers and preachers have included all seven in one homily or reflection. Many have preached a series of seven homilies (one for each word). A few have written a book on the subject. The artwork is copyrighted by Irish painter John Dunne and can be found online here. The reflections are written and copywritten by Dr. Mark D. Roberts, a pastor, author, retreat leader, speaker, and blogger. You can find them here.]
“Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”
Two of the last seven “words” of Jesus were quotations from the Psalms.
Earlier Jesus had Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
to express his anguish.
Later he borrowed from Psalm 31, which comes to us from Luke as
“Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands.”
On an obvious level,
Jesus was putting his post mortem future in the hands of his Heavenly Father.
It was as if he was saying,
“Whatever happens to me after I die is your responsibility, Father.”
But when we look carefully at the Psalm Jesus quoted,
we see more than what at first meets our eyes.
Psalm 31 begins with a cry for divine help:
O LORD, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for you do what is right. (v. 1)
But then it mixes asking for God’s deliverance
with a confession of God’s strength and faithfulness:
I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God. (v. 5)
By the end, Psalm 31 offers praise of God’s salvation:
Praise the LORD,
for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love.
He kept me safe when my city was under attack. (v. 21)
By quoting a portion of Psalm 31, therefore,
Jesus not only entrusted his future to his Father,
but also implied that he would be delivered and exonerated.
No, God would not deliver him from death by crucifixion.
But beyond this horrific death lay something marvelous.
“I entrust my spirit into your hands”
points back to the familiar suffering of David in Psalm 31,
and forward to the resurrection.
Questions for Reflection
Have you put your life and, indeed, your life beyond this life, in God’s hands? How do you experience God’s salvation through Christ in your life today?
even as you once entrusted
your spirit into the hands of the Father,
so I give my life to you.
I trust you, and you alone to be my Savior.
I submit to your sovereignty over my life,
and seek to live for your glory alone.
Here I am, Lord, available to you, both now and in the future.
How good it is to know, dear Lord,
that the cross was not the end for you.
As you entrusted your spirit into the Father’s hands,
you did so in anticipation of what was to come.
So we reflect upon your death, not in despair, but in hope.
With Good Friday behind us, Easter Sunday is on the horizon.