Summary: This is the seventh and final sermon in this Lenten Series on the "Seven Last Words of Christ." I also have information on appropriate dramas that may be used with this sermon and all the others in this series.
The Trust That Isn’t Misplaced
“Alfred Krupp, German industrialist in the nineteenth century, is considered the founder of modern warfare, because he developed the cast-steel cannon and sold it worldwide. Before his death in 1909 he had armed 46 nations. Krupp had a dread fear of death. He never forgave anyone who brought up the subject in his presence. A relative of his wife died suddenly while visiting them causing him to flee the house in terror. When his wife chastised him for it, he left her never to live with her again. He offered his doctor one million dollars if he would prolong his life ten years.” [--Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979), 435, illustration #1646.]
Many people in our world today are just like Alfred Krupp, gripped by the fear of death. Every Christian can face death courageously by following in the steps of Jesus. You and I can overcome the fear of death by committing our spirits into the hands of Jesus Christ as He committed His Spirit into the hands of His Father.
I am reminded of the famous quotation by the great African American Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Lewis, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Joe Lewis was very perceptive. Recall Paul’s testimony in I Corinthians 15:56-57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sting of death indeed is sin, but “Thanks be to God,” our Lord Jesus Christ provided the cure for the sting at Calvary. Jesus conquered death at Calvary. For us as believers the fear of death dies in the crucifixion of our Lord.
Every believer can face death courageously by following the steps of Jesus. Commit your spirit into the hands of Jesus Christ, and acknowledge the presence of God to guide you. These last words of Jesus are a direct quotation of Psalm 31:5:
“Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.”
This is the Jewish version of our childhood prayer:
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the LORD my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the LORD my soul to take.”
Every Jewish Mother taught her sons and daughters to pray Psalm 31:5 as their
first prayer: “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” To this tradition prayer Jesus adds the word, “Father.” Our LORD died like a child falling asleep in His Father’s arms.”
Jesus committed His spirit into the Father’s hands. In Scripture the hand is symbolic of power and strength, and the hand or hands of God personify His supreme, almighty power. Power and might are “in God’s hands.” David acknowledged the all powerful strength and might of God when at Solomon’s coronation in I Chronicles 29:10 He praises the LORD in his testimony:
“In your hand are power and might;
And it is in your hand to make great and
to give strength to all”
The entire Old Testament continually expresses the omnipotent power of God in terms of His strong hands. By His strong hands, God created the world, delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt, worked for truth and justice, and guided the righteous. By His strong hands, God guides us still today, even in the hour of death.
Jesus “commended His spirit to His Father.” The term commend literally means “to make a deposit” or to “entrust something of great value to someone else for safe keeping.” It is like making deposits in a savings account or CD at the bank. In doing so I am entrusting my assets to the bank, trusting them to keep it safe, let the interest accumulate, and its value increase. This was in fact what Jesus was doing with His spirit when He commended it to His Father’s care. He was entrusting the Father to care for Him as His physical life came to an end. He was placing his most prized possession into His Father’s care and protection.
Jesus “commended His spirit into His Father’s hands.” Your spirit is “the real you,” that portion of you that is immortal and lives on when physical life on earth comes to an end. It is that part of you that continues living after death as Ecclesiastes 12:7 affirms:
“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
On Ash Wednesday, we invited you to “remember that you are dust and to dust you
shall return. Only the physical body returns to dust, but even that is only temporary.
The real person, “the spirit returns to God who gave it.” At the resurrection of the