Luke 23:46
Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit." And when He had said this, He breathed His last.
How to Die and to LiveW. Clarkson Luke 23:46
Soul-Resignation into the Hands of GodW. Bridge, M. A.Luke 23:46
That Dying Believers are Both WarrantedJ. Flavel.Luke 23:46
The Hands of the FatherGeorge MacDonaldLuke 23:46
The Last Words of ChristT. M. Herbert, M. A.Luke 23:46
The Seventh WordJ. H. BeibitzLuke 23:46
The Soul Given to GodW. Bridge, M. A.Luke 23:46
The Merciful Savior on the CrossR.M. Edgar Luke 23:26-46
Our text treats of the dying of our Lord. We may distinguish between death and dying. All men die, but all men have not a dying experience. Those who are killed instantaneously in war or by accident, those who are attacked by fatal apoplexy, those who die in their sleep, have no such experience. It is probable that we shall have to face the fact that we are passing away from life, that when a few more hours have come and gone we shall have entered the unseen world. It is therefore of no small value to us that our great Exemplar underwent not only death, but the conscious act of dying, and that in this respect also he "left us an example that we should follow his steps." We look at -

I. THE DYING OF OUR LORD IN THE LIGHT OF THESE WORDS. The words he uttered just as his end drew near indicate:

1. Deep serenity of spirit. They show nothing of agitation or anxiety; they breathe a calm stillness of soul; they are fragrant of peace and tranquillity. They begin with that word, "Father," which all along had been a name of strength and peace; he was evidently resting in the assurance of parental love. And the words that follow are in a strain of entire spiritual composure.

2. True and living faith. Jesus was resigning his spirit to God's gracious charge, knowing that in his holy and mighty keeping it would be safe and blessed. Here was fullest confidence in God and in immortality.

3. Holy resignation. As a Son of man, Jesus felt still subject to the Divine Father of all; and as he came to do and bear his will, and had done and had borne it perfectly in every hour and act of life, so now in this last volition he yielded himself to God. Thus with a soul tranquil to its profoundest depths, realizing the unseen and eternal world, resigning his spirit to the Divine Father, he bowed his head in death.

II. OUR OWN DEPARTURE. Having found in the death of Jesus Christ that which is the ground of our pardon, our peace, our life before God; having lived in the love and in the service of a once crucified and now ever-living Savior; - there is no reason to doubt that we shall die as he died, breathing the spirit he breathed, if we do not use the very language that was upon his lips.

1. Our departure will be tranquil. We shall not be terrified, alarmed, agitated; our spirit will look calmly forward to the moment of departure from this world and of entrance into another. We shall face the very near future with a smile.

2. For we shall be sustained by a living faith.

(1) We shall feel that we are only going into the nearer presence of our own Father - of him before whom we have been living and in whom we have been rejoicing; only passing from one room to another in our Father's house.

(2) We shall have faith in Jesus Christ himself. That death upon the cross constitutes him a Divine Savior, in whom we hide; and we shall die in the calm assurance that we shall be "found in him," and accepted through him. We shall say, with deeper and fuller meaning than the psalmist could, "Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth (Psalm 31:5).

(3) We shall yield ourselves to God in the spirit of consecration, assured that in that new and unknown realm which we are entering we may spend our time and our powers, liberated and enlarged, in his holy and blessed service: and the spirit of consecration is the spirit of confidence and hope. And while these words are particularly appropriate to dying lips, and very probably suggested the last utterance of the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:59), they need not be held in reserve for that occasion; they admirably express our true attitude in -

III. OUR DAILY LIFE. SO David evidently felt (Psalm 31:5), and so we may feel. In faith and in self-surrender we should be continually commending our spirit to Our heavenly Father's charge:

1. When the day is done and we enter the nightly darkness and unconsciousness, during which we can take no charge of ourselves.

2. As we go forth each morning to duties, trials, temptations, opportunities, to which our own unaided strength is quite unequal.

3. If we feel that we are entering some dark cloud of adversity and trial in which we shall have peculiar need of Divine support.

4. When we are called to new spheres and weightier responsibilities, wherein other graces will be required than any that have yet been demanded of us. At all such times should we, in faith and consecration, commit the keeping of our souls to our heavenly Father, to be sheltered in his faithfulness, to be enriched by his love and his power. - C.

Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.

1. That the soul outlives the body.

2. That the soul's true rest is in God.

3. The great value believers have for their souls. He thinks but little of his body comparatively.

4. These words imply the deep sense that dying believers have of the great change that is coming upon them by death; when all visible and sensible things are shrinking away from them and failing. They feel the world and the best comforts in it failing; every creature and creature-comfort failing: For at death we are said to fail (Luke 16:9). Hereupon the soul clasps the closer about its God, cleaves more close than ever to Him: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit."

5. It implies the atonement of God, and His full reconciliation to believers, by the blood of the great Sacrifice; else they durst never commit their souls into His hands: "For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 12:29).

6. It implies both the efficacy and excellency of faith, in supporting and relieving the soul at a time when nothing else is able to do it.

II. WHAT WARRANT OR ENCOURAGEMENT HAVE GRACIOUS SOULS TO COMMIT THEMSELVES, AT DEATH, INTO THE HANDS OF GOD? I answer, much every way; all things encourage and warrant its so doing: for —

1. This God, to whom the believer commits himself at death, is its Creator; the Father of its being: He created and inspired it, and so it hath relation of a creature to a Creator; yea, of a creature now in distress, to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).

2. As the gracious soul is His creature, so it is His redeemed creature; one that He hath bought, and that with a great price, even with the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18). This greatly encourages the departing soul to commit itself into the hands of God; so you find (Psalm 31:5).

3. The gracious soul may confidently and securely commit itself into the hands of God when it parts with its body at death; not only because it is His creature, His redeemed creature, but because it is His renewed creature also. All natural excellency and beauty goes away at death (Job 4. ult.), but grace ascends with the soul; it is a sanctified, when a separate soul; and can God shut the door of glory upon such a soul, that by grace is made meet for the inheritance? Oh, it cannot be!

4. As the gracious soul is a renewed soul, so it is also a sealed soul; God hath sealed it in this world for that glory, into which it is now to enter at death. Surely, if God have sealed, He will not refuse you; if He have given His earnest, He will not shut you out; God's earnest is not given in jest.

5. Moreover, every gracious soul may confidently cast itself into the arms of its God, when it goes hence, with "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit." Forasmuch as every gracious soul is a soul in covenant with God, and God stands obliged, by His covenant and promise to such, not to cast them out, when they come unto Him. As soon as ever thou became His, by regeneration, that promise became thine (Hebrews 13:5).

6. But this is not all; the gracious soul sustains many intimate and dear relations to that God into whose hands it commends itself at death. It is His spouse, and the consideration of such a day of espousals may well encourage it to cast itself into the bosom of Christ, its head and husband. It is a member of His body, flesh and bones (Ephesians 5:30). It is His child, and He its everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6). It is His friend. "Henceforth," saith Christ, "I call you not servants, but friends" (John 15:15). What confidence may these, and all other the dear relations Christ owns to the renewed soul, beget, in such an hour as this is!

7. The unchangeableness of God's love to His people gives confidence they shall in no wise be cast out. They know Christ is the same to them at last as He was at first the same in the pangs of death as He was in the comforts of life. Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). He doth not love as the world loves, only in prosperity; but they are as dear to Him when their beauty and strength are gone, as when they were in the greatest flourishing. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's (Romans 14:8).Deduction

1. Are dying believers, only, warranted and encouraged thus to commend their souls into the hands of God? What a sad strait, then, must all dying unbelievers be in about their souls? Such souls will fall into the hands of God, but that's their misery, not their privilege. They are not put by faith into the bands of mercy, but fall by sin into the hands of justice.

2. Will God graciously accept, and faithfully keep what the saints commit to Him at death? How careful then should they be to keep what God commits to them, to be kept for Him while they live.

3. If believers may safely commit their souls into the hands of God, how confidently may they commit all lesser interests, and lower concernments into the same hand.

4. Is this the privilege of believers, that they can commit their souls to God in a dying hour? Then how precious, how useful grace is faith to the people of God, both living and dying?

5. Do the souls of dying believers commend themselves into the hands of God? Then let not the surviving relations of such sorrow as men that have no hope

(J. Flavel.)

Jesus Christ did not die for Himself, any more than He lived for Himself; and He not only "died, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God," but the manner of His dying was a lesson and a pattern for us. That is the Christian way of dying — the way for all to die; and who would wish, or could imagine, any fitter or happier way? Who would not, in this sense, say, "Let me die the death of my Saviour, and let my last end be like His!" And how it disarms our helplessness of its terrors! "I am powerless," it seems to say, "and therefore I commend to Thine omnipotence this frail and sensitive soul, which came at first from Thy creating hand. I do so reverently, but I do so confidently, for I do so as a child who calls Thee, 'My Father.'" I have said it expresses dependence — and so it does; but in Christ's case, and even in our own, the confidence expressed is more prominent still. In His case there seems a suggestion of the words, "No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself"; "I, as My own act, commend it, Father, to Thee." We do not possess that power; our souls are "required" of us. But, more than that, we are accustomed to think of dying as the most terrible crisis of our history; the hour of supreme peril to our souls; the appalling event which decides our fate for ever. It is a great mistake. Our dying does not decide our future fate: it is our living which does that; the course we have taken, the choices we have made when opportunities were in our hands, and we used them, or threw them away! And therefore, I say, the peril of living is greater far than any peril there can be in dying. I commend My spirit into Thy hands to be delivered. Consider any human spirit now; consider your own. Before it are great possibilities of good and of evil. It must be so. If we can be God's true children, and live with, and become like our Father, it is terrible to fail of this; and it is more dreadful still — it is an indescribable degradation — not even to care about it. Since, then, we are in this case; capable of being God's children, but hindered and prevented from being so by our evil, there is supreme need for us each to cry, "Father, hear met deliver me! Into Thy hands I commend my spirit — my sin-stained spirit. I am Thine. Save me!" I commend my spirit into Thy hands, to be made pure. The deliverance and reformation which the Scriptures say that we require, they describe by the strong expressions "a new birth," "a new creation." They say that is needed in order that we may stand "without blame" before God. Does not our sad experience say the same? God prescribes it. God promises to perform it, and on us.

(T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

Yea, and it is a very profitable thing for us to do it hereby we make a virtue of necessity; and where can we lodge our souls in safer hands? If a man cannot keep a thing himself, but must betrust and deposit it in other hands, will he not do it in the safest hands that he can find? Now three things there are that are required to a safe hand: power, wisdom, and love. If I deposit a thing in a man's hand to keep, he must be able to keep it for me against violence, else his hand is no safe hand; though he be able and have power to keep it for me, yet if he be prodigal and lavish, and not wise, I shall not count his hand a safe hand to keep my depositum: but though he be never so wise, yet if he be not my friend, I shall not betrust him with any great matter: but if a man be able, wise and friendly, then his hand is a safe hand to keep my depositum. And again if we do not commend, commit, and resign ourselves and souls into His hands, we must be responsible for them ourselves. "What benefit shall we get thereby? Much every way. This resignation of our souls and selves unto God is an inlet to many mercies, graces, and comforts. As for mercies and blessings; what greater blessing can there be in in this world than to enjoy one's-self; under God to enjoy one's-self, and to be free from all things? As it is an inlet unto many blessings, so it is an inlet unto many graces and duties. What grace or duty will ye instance in? Will ye instance in prayer? It opens the sluices of prayer; and, as one speaks well, though you pray never so long or loud, yet if you do not resign up your soul and will unto God, your prayer is but nonsense, and a contradiction in re. As it is an inlet unto many graces, so it is an inlet also unto many comforts; yea, indeed, unto all our comforts: for what comfort can a man have in himself or condition, till he hath truly resigned and given up himself and soul and will unto God? but being done, ye may freely go about your business. If a man have a suit in law, and have left his cause in the hand of an able, careful friend and lawyer, he is quiet; much more may we be quiet, when we have left and lodged our case and way and soul with God. Well, but then how is this work to be done that we may truly resign and give up ourselves, our souls, and our wills unto God? It is not to be done slightly and overly, but seriously and solemnly. It is an ordinary thing with men to say, "The will of the Lord be done." As this work is not to be done slightly and overly, so neither is it to be done forcedly and lastly, but freely and firstly. As it is not to be done lastly and forcedly, so it is not to be done partially, and by halves, but fully and totally. "I am Thine," saith David to God, "Oh, save me" (Psalm 119:94). As this resignation must not be done partially, and by halves, so it must not be done conditionally, but absolutely. As this resignation is not to be done conditionally, so it is not to be done passively, and in a way of submission only, but actively. It is one thing for a man to submit unto God's will, and another thing to resign up himself and will to the will of God. As this resignation is not to be done passively, so it is not to be done deceitfully and feignedly, but in all plainness and sincerity. Well, but when is this work to be done? It is to be done daily. There are some special times and seasons which do call for this work. I will name five. When a man doth convert and turn unto God. When a man is called forth unto any great work, or service, or employment, especially if it be beyond his own strength and power. When a man is in any great danger, distress, and affliction, then he is to resign and give up himself and will unto God. And if you would be able to do this work of soul-resignation in the day of your death rightly, then use yourself to do it every day. That is easily done which is often done.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

Be sure that you do not give away your soul from God to anything else whilst you live. If you have given away your soul unto other things whilst you live, it will be a vain thing for you to say Christ's words when you come to die. When men come to their death, ye know they do ordinarily make their wills; and in the first place they say, I give my soul unto God; then if they have lands, or houses, or money, they give them to their wives, children, relations and friends, according to their pleasure. But suppose, now, that a man shall give land or house to such or such a child or friend, which he hath sold or given away before, shall his will stand in force? Will not all men say, This he could not give away, for he had sold that or given that before? So in regard of one's soul; though upon my death I say, As for my soul, I give that to God; yet if I have sold away my soul before, for unjust gain, or have given away my soul before unto filthy pleasures, how can I resign and give that to God when I die; will not the Lord say, Nay, this is none of yours to give, this you had sold or given away before? Oh, then, be sure of this, that whilst you live, you do not sell or give away your soul from God, for then death-bed resignation will be but as the act and deed of a man that makes his will when he is not compos mentis.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

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