LAST WORDS FROM THE CROSS
This passage tells us of the very last words Jesus on this earth. The last words from the cross were, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Other renderings of His last words are: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” “Father, into Your hands I intrust My spirit.” I think the word commit is the best translation. Thayer's Greek dictionary says the word means, “deposit, to intrust, to commit to one's charge” His meaning seems to be that He was committing His spirit to God for safekeeping. Last words are usually important words, and we shall find there is much food for thought in these last words of Jesus , spoken immediately before He died. His last words from the cross teach us all some important truths that should guide our lives.
The first is that we should live by the word of God and die by the word of God. His dying words was a quotation from the Bible. I have referred to His last words as His dying words, but it is most remarkable that the gospel writers do not speak of our Lord as dying. He did die, but all speak of Him as giving up, yielding, or surrendering His spirit to God. It is even more remarkable that the last words He uttered was a quotation from the Bible, and His dying words were not original with Him. He was the greatest of all original thinkers and never lacked for a word, for it is written of Him, “never man spoke like this man.” He quoted continually from the Old Testament scriptures. He coined many new expressions which people continue to admire to this day.
Yet, the fact remains that the last words He spoke were not original with Him. Just before He died, He quoted the words of David in Psalm 31:5, “Into your hand I commit my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” He prayed to God by using the words of the Bible, and that is an excellent way to pray. Christ lived His life and passed away in the atmosphere of the word of God. It is clear that the Bible was the most important book in His life. He may have read other books, but the Bible was His favorite book. In His lifetime, the Bible consisted only of the 39 books of the Old Testament. These last words from the cross prove just how full Christ was of the scriptures. He was familiar with the scriptures from the first page to the last. He died with the words of the Bible on His lips.
If Christ lived and passed away in the atmosphere of the word of God, should not you and I do the same? For our enlightenment, God has added the New Testament to the Old Testament. If the Holy Spirit of God
dwells in us, He will teach us to love and be guided by the word of God. If anyone imagines the Holy Spirit will lead and guide him separate and apart from the written word of God, that person is under the influence of another spirit and not the Holy Spirit of God at all. I was discussing the Bible with a man whose views conflicted with mine on the Bible, and he lost his cool, took the New Testament, threw it on the floor and said, “I don't need the Bible; the Holy Spirit is directing my life.” If a person does not follow the guidance the Holy Spirit gives in the Bible, he is guiding himself by his own wisdom. If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, He will teach you that every page of God's word is precious, so that you will feed upon it yourself, and afterwards speak it to others. Charles Spurgeon, the well known 19th century preacher in England said, “I think it is well worthy of your constant remembrance that even in death, our blessed Master showed the ruling passion of His spirit, so that His last words were a quotation from scripture.”
Another great truth Jesus imparted to us by His last words on the cross is the fatherhood of God. On the cross He spoke of God as His Father, and if that be so God is also our Father. He himself said, “Father.” He did not say, “Our Father,” for the Father is Christ's Father in a higher sense than He is ours. Not only was Jesus the only begotten Son of God on earth, He was also the second person of the Godhead. He existed in eternity with the other two persons in the Godhead. This mysterious Divine Being called “he Word” became flesh and dwelled among us. The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... and the Word became flesh and dwelled among us”(John:1:1-14).
Some do not believe in the universal Fatherhood of God, the idea that God is Father to all human beings on earth, regardless of their religious convictions. I agree with those believe that God is a Father in a lesser sense even to unbelievers and non-Christians. In preaching the gospel to the idol worshipers in Athens, Greece Paul said, “God made of one blood every nation....in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your poets have said, For we are also His offspring”(Acts 17:24-29). The Bible teaches that the human race is the offspring of God, the good and bad, the just and unjust, the believer and the unbeliever. God is a Father to all people on a lower level, as the Creator of mankind by natural birth, even though all have become wayward, disobedient children. However to all Christians, God is a Father on a higher level, by a new spiritual birth, children who have been born again of the water and spirit, a new creation of human beings. Christians are a chosen generation of
human beings as it written, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” So there is a higher sense in which God is not a Father to the entire human race. Jesus referred to His unbelieving countrymen as children of the Devil In all time before Christ, the saved family of God was marked by the sign of circumcision. In ancient times circumcision distinguished God's chosen people from all other people on earth. Anyone who had not been circumcised of Abraham's descendants were no long considered a descendants of Abraham and were deprived pf all blessings God gave to Abraham's..(Genesis 12: 1-3). One of those blessings was eternal life. Eternal life was promised by God only to the descendants of Abraham, and the New Testament reveals that Christians are the children of Abraham through faith in Christ and the new birth. Galatians 3:29 says to Christians, “If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise.” That promise was eternal life in heaven.
The human race had better learn this truth, and learn how to become a descendant of Abraham, if they ever hope to go to heaven. The promises made to Abraham produced the Christian religion. In ancient times all descendants of Abraham were marked and set apart from all other people on earth. That mark was circumcision, but in the Christian religion circumcision has no religious value. Baptism has superseded circumcision, and baptism now marks and distinguishes all saved people from all lost people. Christ replaced circumcision with baptism. We learn about this change from circumcision to baptism in Colossians 2:11. After saying that in Christ dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, he said to Christians, “In Christ you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him by baptism...” The new circumcision is immersion in water, called the circumcision of Christ. Baptism is now the mark or sign of God's new covenant with us. If you have not obeyed the command of Christian baptism, you are not a descendant of Abraham and not in line for eternal life. Baptism is to Christians was circumcision was all descendants ofAbraham, including all in the Jewish religion. . The only true descendants of Abraham today are Jews and Gentiles who have become Christians, and they alone are given the promise of eternal life. I have said all these things to emphasize that God is a Father to Christians in a higher sense than He is to anyone else earth. He created Christians anew in Christ Jesus.
Now returning to the last words of Christ, His last words in the hour of death recognized a personal God. When Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven,” He referred to God as the Father of all who are sons of
God by faith in Christ Jesus, the only true descendants of Abraham, and the only true children of God in the world today. The Arab world, and the Jewish world have been cut off from being the descendants of Abraham for rejecting the greatest descendant Abraham ever had, Jesus Christ. In like manner all other races and Gentile religions are cut off from a saving relationship with God for the same reason.
In closing this study, the last words on the cross teach us all how to die. According to Christ, dying is going home to our Father. A preacher
one time said about an old friend, “Old Mr. so-and-so has gone home.” He meant he was dead. Someone else said, “Yes, where else should he go?” That's a wise question. Where else should we go? When our hair turns grey, our bodies become feeble, and our day's work is done, where should go but home?. Just before He fell asleep, Jesus said, “Father.”
If we die with the same attitude Jesus had, we shall die with the certainty of the immortality of the soul between death and the resurrection. If death is annihilation, why ask God to receive our spirit; for there would be nothing to receive Stephen, the first Christian martyr, died like Jesus died. Just before his spirit departed he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” In dying Jesus intended to teach us all how to die, and Stephen learned the lesson. Here we learn that to go home means to be received by Jesus; it means to be with Christ.
There are numbers of preachers in the world who profess to believe the Bible and follow Christ, who are proclaiming a false doctrine. Their doctrine is, “When we die, we die like the dog Rover; we die all over. When we die we no longer exist.; we become annihilated, and will have no conscious existence until the day of the general resurrection. If that be so, why did Jesus and Stephen ask the Father to receive their spirits? Surely, we cannot commit something to God that does not exist. The soul survives death, and that is why Jesus and Stephen asked God to receive it. We know from later teaching that the spirit of Jesus went to paradise and so did the spirit of the thief on the cross, and so did the spirit of Stephen and the spirits of all the redeemed people f God. We are not going to die like cats and dogs. The faithful sons and daughters of God are going to die like immortal beings, who fall asleep on earth, and at the next moment find themselves in paradise. Then at the sound of the archangel's trumpet, their bodies will rise and be immortalized to dwell with their spirits again.