Luke 23:44-46 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
A lot of the divisions that we have in our churches today usually involve issues about how we live our lives as Christians. For some people, complete loyalty to the word of God is essential. For others, treating everyone as a child of God is of paramount importance. We battle each other constantly about how we interpret the scriptures by what we preach and practice. In other words, both groups use the Gospels as a means of showing us all how to live.
But in today’s scripture, we are not taught how to live. Instead, Jesus teaches us how to die. After enduring agony, suffering, and shame for hours, Jesus is ready to die. Mustering all of His remaining strength, He cries out loudly for everyone to hear: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” He completely surrenders Himself to God and unequivocally declares His faith in His Father. He does not mumble or mutter those words. He declares them openly, publicly, and loudly.
It is a complete validation of His life. He has lived it according to His Father’s will. Jesus now yields to death, but does not give Himself over to darkness or oblivion. He places His spirit into God’s hands. He confidently gives Himself over to God with His last dying breath.
One day, there will be an unavoidable moment in our own lives when we will take our last breath. It may be at home, in a hospital, or at a hospice. It could be unexpected, unintended, or accidental. Whatever the case or circumstances, Jesus has shown us how to die.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we don’t like thinking about death or dying. We live our lives fully, doing our best to survive each day by trying to be healthy and happy. But one day, death will come. Help us to be spiritually prepared for that expected or unexpected moment. Come to us at that mysterious time and enable us to surrender our spirit into Your hands. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.