The Seventh Word:
“Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”
Copyright © 2007, Linda E. S. Roberts. For permission to use this picture, please contact Mark.
Two of the last seven “words” of Jesus were quotations from the Psalms. Earlier, Jesus had quoted 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 of Jesus.
Questions for ReflectionHave 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?
Gracious Lord, 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. Amen.
Resources for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter
The Seven Last Words of Christ: Reflections for Holy Week
(the seven-part series, of which today’s post is part 7)