Luke 23:44-47 -- "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man."
We come again to Calvary -- Calvary, where we hear the sweetest story ever told; Calvary, where the chasm between God and man was bridged forever; Calvary, where God loved as no one has ever loved; Calvary, where God proved His magnificent love for us; Calvary, where Christ accomplished His redemptive work for us; Calvary, where our poor souls find salvation, satisfaction, happiness and Heaven; Calvary, how terrible if we did not know of Calvary.
We come again to that theme of Jesus dying on the cross. When He hung there dying on the cross, He spoke seven times. Seven is the number of perfection. In seven days God finished His creation, and it was perfect. God looked at it and said it was very good. Later it was marred; but at least when God made it, it was very good. Seven is also the number of rest. On the seventh day our Lord rested when He created the heavens and the earth and all that is therein. Seven is a word that speaks of perfection and also rest. Our Lord spoke on the cross seven times. He spoke in a prayer the very first time He spoke, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Even as they were driving the spikes into His hands and feet and lifting him up and dropping the cross into a hole, he was saying over and over, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
The next word we hear our Lord speak is in response to one of the thieves who was dying with Him. He said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." And Jesus said, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." That was in response to the man who was manifesting his faith in Christ as the only one who could save him. He was going out into eternity in a few minutes. He was a hell-bound sinner and he knew it. His only hope was in that one hanging there on the cross. Somehow it got through to the thief that He was Lord, that He was God. So he said, "Lord, remember me." He had been reviling the Lord and casting terrible remarks at our Savior and suddenly he came to himself and He said to the other thief, what is the matter with you, for we deserve what we are getting, but this man has done nothing amiss. We deserve to die but He does not deserve to die. In saying that, he was acknowledging the fact that he had had a change of heart and a change of mind about the Saviour, and he said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." And Jesus said just the words he needed to hear, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." What a wonderful thing it is to know that if anything suddenly happens to you, you are going to Heaven. And that is what he discovered suddenly from the lips of the Savior.
The third word from the cross was for His mother. He needed to have her taken care of and so He said to Mary, His mother, "Woman, behold thy son." To John, the beloved disciple, He said, "Behold thy mother." The Bible says, from that hour John took her into his own home. He was saying to John something that all of us need to understand. He was saying, John, I want you to substitute for the substitute. I am dying for every person that ever lived or ever will live, and now I can not physically minister to my mother for I am leaving. I want you to substitute for me, the Substitute. And there is a message there for us. Our Lord wants us to substitute for Him, to live for others and to help others as He did while He was here on earth.
Then suddenly there was a darkness that came across the land as God pulled a curtain down over the sun and all light so that man could not look upon the punishment our Lord would endure, as He took Hell for us. Literally, took our Hell! One day Jesus stepped over the battlements of Heaven (for He had dwelled there throughout eternity), came down to earth and tabernacled Himself as a little baby. He lived among men and never sinned. He literally went to the cross and died. He had come to die and to take the full punishment of sin for every person that had ever lived or ever would live. And as He hung there on the cross, He took your Hell for you and my Hell for me.
After doing that He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" In Hell, people are forsaken of God. God turns His back on them, they are forsaken. In this life, every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights above, the Bible says, but in Hell there is nothing good because God is not there. It is a place of banishment, it is a place of separation from God. So Jesus left Heaven's glory and came to this earth and went to the old rugged cross. There on the cross, He took the punishment of Hell for every person. Compressed into those three hours, Jesus suffered at the hands of God, as God turned His back on His Son. This was the first time in eternity past and the last time in eternity future that this would ever happen. Once Martin Luther pondered that scene very seriously. After several days of meditation, he arose from his table and said, "God forsaken of God, who can understand it?" It is beyond our comprehension and we do not understand it, but we know God's Holy Bible teaches this.
Now the fifth thing He said was natural for someone who has been in Hell: "I thirst." The sixth thing He said was, "It is finished." What I have come to do, what I have come to accomplish, I have finished. I have shed my blood. I did not spill it. I shed it for the sins of the world. The Bible says, in Hebrews 9:22, AWithout the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." In Leviticus 17:11, AIt is the blood that maketh an atonement" or covering for the soul. It took the blood of God to do that. Jesus had that unique aspect or characteristic about Him: when He lived in this body, He had the blood of God (Acts 20:28). Doctors will tell you the blood that courses through our veins comes from the Father, not the mother. His father was the Heavenly Father. We need blood, God's blood, to cover our sins and pay redemption's price. Jesus paid it all. The song writer says that, "Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain but He washed it white as snow." What a glorious song, what a great truth!
We come now to this last saying of our Lord, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost." This is a word of trust, a word of contentment, a word of example, a word of love, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
AN EXAMPLE OF SUPPLICATION
The sun is shining now and Jesus gives us here an example of supplication. I Peter 2:21 tells us, that when He came, He was an example. He was an example of many things. He was an example of praying, of supplication. It reminds us of His life of prayer. There were times He would pray all night. There were times he would rise up early and pray. He was such a pray-er that His disciples came to him and said, "Lord, teach us to pray." And He said, "After this manner pray ye. Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come," and so forth. He was a pray-er.
He prayed at the very end of life, as He had prayed all through His life. It is little wonder that at life's end, He prayed, being such a pray-er. If we would have more confidence in prayer in life, we would have more confidence in prayer at death. The Lord wants us to pray. Mark 11:24 says, "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them." "Men ought always to pray and not to faint," Luke 18:3. APray without ceasing" is the exhortation of I Thessalonians 5:17. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, AWhosoever cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Prayer is asking. Certainly there ought to be praise whenever we talk to the Lord, but we must remember that prayer is asking God for things. Our Heavenly Father who loves us so very, very much is pleased to give us that which we desire, if it is good for us. "Ye have not because ye ask not," God says. So we ought to be pray-ers like Jesus was. His faith, at the very last of life is an example of supplication and prayer. We ought to emulate it.
He is also an example of sonship. What a tender word, Father! "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." One is to be pitied who does not have a caring father. We can all think of our fathers and times when they have protected and provided for us and that is our Lord. Knowing this, His Heavenly Father was all He needed. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." I remember one time when I was a little boy on the playground in Miami, my dad was the school principal and there was a man there on that playground that cursed some of us children. I told my dad about it. The next day my dad was there and that fellow did not say a word. A few years later I was on the island of Saipan during World War II. We were getting bombed every night and things were not going very good. Little wonder that one day the thought came into my mind as I looked at some brush there outside the camp and somehow I expected my dad to come through the brush, with braid on his officer's hat, with men at his command, to take charge of that island and that which was going on. Why? Because I had a caring daddy that taught me that he cared. I could depend him, and Jesus knew this about His Heavenly Father. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." An example of sonship. Jesus was His only begotten son. "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." There are some that say that Jesus was just a son, but I would submit to you that the great evidence in the universe and the evidence in theology is that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. There never was one like Him before, and never will there be one like Him again. What is so wonderful is that we can become a son of God! We cannot become a Son like He is, for He is the unique Son, the only begotten Son. But the Bible says in Galatians 3:26, "Ye are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." In John 1:11, "He came unto His own and His own received him not." The next verse says, "But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." So you can become the child of God. Some people say everyone is a child of God. If you are born in this country, you are a child of God. That does not make much sense, does it? You can be born in a garage and it does not make you an automobile, does it? So you have got to become a child of God. There must be a moment in time when you become a child of God. John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." And the next verse says, "For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." And the next verse, "He that believeth on Him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already." And this is why, ABecause he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." What must a person do to go to Hell? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Just keep walking the way he is going. And when he dies, that is where he is going. "He that believeth on Him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Let me tell you, sometime, some place, if you are going to Heaven, you must stop to face up to the fact that you have sinned and gone your way and grieved a holy, righteous God. He is a God of love, and a God of mercy, and a God of grace, but he is also a God of wrath, and he is also a God of justice, and he is also a God of holiness; and when you put all those attributes together, it is not an easy thing to satisfy all of them. But God has devised a means whereby His banished shall be not expelled from Him and that means is the cross. There justice is satisfied. Pure, infinite justice is satisfied. Infinite holiness is satisfied. Infinite mercy is satisfied. Infinite kindness is satisfied. All in the cross of Calvary. Marvel of marvels, what Jesus has done for us! We can become a child of God, one of God's sons. But we have to face up to the fact that all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death. A wage is a salary and we have all sinned and there is a price put on that and that price is separation from God for eternity. I would submit to you that Hell must be a terrible place if Jesus had to take so much torment in order to keep us out of it. But He loves you and me and He died that we might live and have everlasting life.
AN EXAMPLE OF SERVICE
This statement, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," is an example of service. It was His last act. As he lived, so he died. That is the way it is with men. As they live, so they die. One man had a franchise of sandwich shops all over the country. One day he was on his deathbed and his family went there and hovered over him, wanting to hear the last word he said. He said this, "Cut the ham thin." As he lived, so he died. The consuming passion of his life was to make money. So he died as he lived. That was the same way with Jesus. As he lived, he died. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." The very first thing Jesus said, that we have recorded, is found in the gospel of Luke chapter 2. Jesus, His mother Mary, and Joseph had been to Jerusalem. Upon the family's return to Nazareth, they discovered Jesus was not with them, so they returned to Jerusalem. They found Him in discussion with the temple scribes, with the learned professors, and He said, "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" At the very beginning of His earthly life He was about His Father's business. All His life, He was about His Father's business. So at the end of life, is it strange that He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7, seventeen times, He referred to "Father." In what is called the Paschal Discourse, John chapters 14-16, Jesus spoke the word "Father," forty five times. In the Lord's Prayer, recorded in John 17, we find that "Father" is recorded six times. Thus, the last time Jesus spoke, He said, "Father." His time was God's time, His strength was the Father's strength, His ability was the Father's ability, His will was His Father's will. "I am come to do thy will, O God. In the volume of the Book it is written of Me." Hebrews 10:7.
Balaam in the Old Testament said, "Let me die the death of the righteous." I would submit to you if we are going to die the death of the righteous, we should live the life of the righteous! Willingly, gladly, joyfully, our Savior committed His spirit into His Father's hands. Man, the Bible teaches is a tri-partite being. He is body, soul, and spirit. Though it is rather hard to distinguish between the spirit and the soul sometimes, still the spirit is the highest part of our being. The Bible says at death, our spirit will return unto God who gave it. God is the creator of our spirit which distinguishes us from animals. Animals have a soul. They are self-conscience, as we are, but they have no God-conscience; man does, that is his spirit.
AN EXAMPLE OF SECURITY
Jesus said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." It is also an example of security. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." It will be secure with thee, into thy hands. My, how wonderful it is to know about the strength of the hands of God and what God has said about them. In John 10:27, Jesus is speaking, "My sheep hear my voice, 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 to me is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." There is security in the hands of God. Jesus wants us to know that when we are saved we are held by His hand. He wants us also to know that when we are saved, we are held by the Father's hand. In the book of Ephesians 4:30, the Holy Spirit comes and puts His seal on His hands and that seal cannot be broken. No, not God's seal! So we are saved, we are secure in the hand and seal of God. An example of security, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
We need to make sure that we can commend our spirit into His hands. We can do this if we will come and repent of our sins and put our faith and trust in Him. This is a beautiful story and it is true. The Bible is the Book of Truth. It is the only book of absolute truth that we have. It has stood the test of time for its reliability of truth. This blessed book tells us why we are here and where we are going, one of two destinations -- Heaven or Hell. We have a choice as to which we will go. Most specially are we blessed that live in America where we have the Bible and these wonderful truths for us. I want to ask you something today; Are you saved? Is there a time and a place you can look back to and say there was a time when I came to the understanding of these things. I was a sinner, I was lost, I saw Jesus high and lifted up on the cross, dying for me and I took Him, as my Saviour. When I did that I became a new creation in Christ. I am not talking about experience, some emotional experience. I am talking about looking at the facts; facts are truth. I am talking about coming with knowledge in our head that we are sinners and we are lost and Jesus died for us, to save us. We have come and put our faith and dependence in Him, to save our soul. Do you remember that? If you do not, that is the greatest need of your life. You need Him today as your Saviour. He died, was buried, and on the third day He rose again to give you assurance of that fact. The Bible says He was delivered for our offences and rose again for our justification or to prove our justification. He lives!