“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).
As were may of His words, the last words of Jesus were a quote from the Old Testament. Often, when Jesus quoted the Old Testament, He did so in order to give us a fuller understanding of the original words. Today, we will look at Jesus’ last words before His death in their original context, and hopefully get a better understanding of why Jesus chose these words to be His last.
Please read Psalm 31:1-5.
As David begins this psalm, the emphasis is clearly on God being a refuge. God is called “my rock and my fortress,” He is the one who will “lead me and guide me,” He will “take me out of the net they have hidden for me,” He will never let me “be put to shame,” He will “deliver me,” incline His ear to me, and “rescue me.” The Lord is “my refuge.”
Because the Lord is his refuge, David can comfortably commit his spirit into His hands. Because these were Jesus’ dying words, we often think of them in terms of death. But David was using them in terms of life. He could trust his very life, every moment of every day, to the sovereign actions of God.
It is interesting to note that this committing of his spirit is sandwiched between two phrases: “You are my refuge” and “You have redeemed me.” The focus of this passage is on God being a refuge. God is the stronghold that enemies cannot overcome; God is the deliverer who will save us from their snares. If I trust in God, then I cannot be defeated.
However, Jesus’ quote of this verse shifts the emphasis onto the phrase that follows His quote: “you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” The word “redemption” means “to buy back.” It was used to describe a slave being bought for a new owner. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price for our sin, and therefore bought us back or “redeemed” us from sin and death.
But it is one thing for Christ to be a redeemer, and a totally different thing for Him to redeem us. Something can be objectively true, but not be subjectively true or applicable to us. David makes it clear in this very passage. Go back and re-read verses 2 and 3.
Notice that God is the rock and fortress in verse 3, but David still needs to ask God to be his refuge and fortress in verse 2. God is the rock and fortress for all of His people, but David still needed to ask Him to be his rock and fortress; Christ is the Redeemer of all humanity, but we still need to ask Him to be our Redeemer.
God is immovable: He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will always be a refuge for His people; He will always be a hiding place for the persecuted, a resting place for the weary, a shelter for the overwhelmed. God will always be the Redeemer of the world.
But, until you ask God to be that for you, then you are still lost. Until you surrender to Christ, you will still be weary, persecuted, and overwhelmed. God is there, waiting to be your refuge--that's why He died for you! But you must ask Him to do so.
When Jesus died to redeem us from our sin, He committed His spirit into the Father’s hand. So too must we commit our spirit into the Father’s hand, so that Jesus may serve as our Redeemer.