1. One of hardest things for us to do is to let go or give up that which means the most to us.
2. As parents we find it so hard to let go or give up our children when they leave home or get married. As a husband or wife we struggle with giving up our spouse when we see them lying on their death bed. We want to hold on to them and not to let them go.
3. And although we have not had that experience for ourselves, we would think that one of hardest things to do is face our own death - the giving up of our own life.
4. As we continue to listen to the last words that X spoke on the cross, we hear the deep struggle that He had and how He dealt with that struggle. As we hear how we dealt with it, He sets before us the way to be able to give up not only our own lives but all that is dear to us.
5. Today we hear what may well be the last words Jesus spoke before His death.
6. As we hear them, we must not just hear them as words from the Son of God but as a human being just like you and me - for Jesus was a man and He had the same struggles that we have. Put yourself in His place, feel His struggle and cry out with Him as we must to face our own mortality and pain. READ vs. 46
7. Jesus was committing His very being into the hands of His Father.
8. Before we consider what this really means, we consider what happened just before this.
1. Two events took place just before X spoke these words. These two things tell us why Christ had to give up His own live, His own spirit.
2. We read in vs 40 that darkness came over the whole land from the 6th to 9th hour - from noon to 3:00 o’clock. The sun stopped shining, perhaps an eclipse but an eclipse was impossible at the time of Passover when there was a full moon and an eclipse would not have lasted three hours.
a. God in a supernatural way brought darkness on the land.
b. Intense - it did not just come over the land but it enveloped it.
c. It symbolized the judgement of God. (Rev 6:12)
d. God was making His judgement upon our sins - and that judgement was being put upon Christ on the cross at that moment.
e. The suffering, the weight of sin was so great that is was overwhelming - but it was necessary.
3. The curtain of the temple was torn into two. Matthew says that this occurred "at the moment" Jesus gave up His spirit.
a. The curtain was placed in the temple between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place- the holy of holes.
b. The holy of holes was specially associated with the presence of Yahweh. (Heb 9:7-8)
c. Curtain shows how because of our sin we cannot stand before God and live, but Christ thru His death changed that and so we can come before God. (Heb 10:19-20).
4. Jesus had to die to face God’s judgement for us so we can now approach God.
5. The words Christ spoke show us how He faced His death.
6. Just like last week (Father, forgive them), He has His eyes focused on His Father.
7. Some people die fighting the death that looms so near and others die peacefully. In the midst of all going on around Him, Jesus calmly breathed His last. He could do this because He committed His spirit to His father.
8. He had confidence in His Father and could give His life over to Him.
a. I remember talking to someone who was dying who said his would fight to end - would not give up. I tried to suggest they not "give up" but "give over" his life to God.
b. Jesus could do this because He had confidence in His Father. Without Him He could not bear what was happening to Him.
c. Ad so He took a prayer from Pss 31 that Jewish parents prayed when they put their children to bed - "Into your hands I commit my spirit".
a. Lord, as I sleep I am not able to watch over myself so I trust you to watch over me.
9. When we die there is only one thing that continues to live - our spirit. Our bodies may fail and give out but our spirits go on. We have no control over where our spirit goes - we can only trust in God.
10. Thanks to Christ that we too can commit our spirits to God when we die. Acts 7 we read about the first martyr for Christ. Stephen was being stoned to death - perhaps he had heard J cry out these words on the cross. In Acts 7:59 Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
11. John Calvin says that in a sense when Jesus committed His spirit, His very essence to God, he "gathered up, as it were, all the souls of his faithful,in one bundle, to keep them safe with His own"
12. Because Christ committed His and our spirits to father, we can commit our spirits to Him.
13. This morning we see how Jesus has opened the way for us to God. We see how he was able to give His life over to God.
14. He has provided the way and showed the way
15. But we need to say the same words that He does. We need to say "Father, Christ, into your hands I commit my spirit".
16. We need to say it when we face the giving of our own life when we too leave this earth but we need to say it while we struggle within this life.
17. For our cross comes to us in different ways -it comes to us in the form of our sin, our struggle with habits, with hatred, with self-centredness, with pride. We try so hard to overcome them but we fail.
a. "Lord you take them, you take our sinful nature and make it pure and holy so I can live for you."
b.. That is hard for us to do - to admit we need God, but unless we do our struggle will continue
c. With Paul we need to say (Rom 7:24) " What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? He knew it was Christ and was able to give his struggle over to him.
18. Our cross comes to us in the way people treat us, in the hardships of life that seem unfair and unwarranted, in the mocking of people, the killing of our spirit when we are criticized or slandered against.
a. Life is unfair - sin promises that it will be.
b. Saw part of Schindler’s List last week - how horrible and unfair that millions killed without thought or remorse. See it today how babies are slaughtered before they are even born. We can be overwhelmed at the evil in this world - whether it is directed to us or to others.
19. We can let this overcome us and be discouraged or we can do what Christ did. We bring our pain and hurt and commit them into our Father’s hand. We know that nothing can separate us from His love. (Rom 8:9-35)
20. The results of committing our spirit into God;s hands.
21. Because Jesus was able to commit His spirit into His fathers hand, He had peace in dying. I see in too many Christians today a sense of defeat - an overwhelming sense that life is too much for us to bear.
a. We hold on to our struggles and let them overtake us. All we need to do is give them over to God and when we do we not only have peace
22. And we become a witness to others that our faith is real.
23. After the centurion saw what had happened, the way Jesus gave up willingly, he said "surely this was a righteous man"
24. When we are able to live at peace in all things we are different than others and people will see that.
25. And those who took joy in our suffering will no longer have joy. In vs. 48 we read that all those who gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts in sorrow and anger.
26. They got what they came for but their was no joy in it. If Christ had gone down fighting they might have felt better but their victory was hollow, it was really a defeat. (Rom 12:20-21).
27. We will also be a witness to other believers. Those who knew Him stood watching from a distance. It was a scene they would not easily forget. They may have felt defeated and confused, but they stood watching, perhaps waiting or even hoping.
28. As we think about Christ’s words on the cross, may these words be ones we say over and over again - it is the only way to the Father and to peace.