Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit: Good Friday Meditation
Tonight, we remember a Friday two thousand years ago. On that day, it was the most unlawful conviction ever. Unjust. The authorities mocked, spat, beat, and forced Jesus to carry a one hundred pound beam from Jerusalem to the Hill of the Skull: Golgotha. On his way, he falters. He could bear it no longer. A Roman soldier grabs a traveler in town for Passover to carry the load down the road. Arriving, exhausted, Jesus lays down on the wood, not for a nap but for torture. Bulky, metallic giant-sized spikes press against his flesh. The weight of a man’s back and arms throw a heavy hammer down with the force of gravity, driving those nails through his skin, tendons, and bone.
Explosion. Pain. Agony.
Explosion. Pain. Agony.
Explosion. Pain. Agony.
They hoist the cross in place. Up his body goes with the wood, naked for all to see. Those orchestrating this travesty continue to mock the Lord of history. Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Asphyxiation. Now he can’t breathe. Only the pressure of pulling himself up by his hands and pushing down on his feet gives enough oxygen to speak. Hanging, he is dying. He utters seven sayings.
He asks the Father to forgive his torturers
He expresses care for his mother and closest follower
He offers hope and mercy to a criminal
He questions God’s wrath and separation, as he is forsaken
He thirsts: drinking the cup’s last drop
He declares it is finished
Finally, he says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)
Now his work is complete. Yet, why is this a Good Friday?
The Answer is his last words. He finished calling out the same way he began: to his Father. Listening, eavesdropping, what do we hear? What do we learn? What good does this Good Friday do?
We have sung about it, heard about it, and prayed about it. Notice, he was not talking to his stepfather, Joseph, but Yahweh, the God of all gods, the Father, when he committed himself in death.
In a sense, God is the “Father of all” (Ephesians 4:6); He is everyone’s father. Yet, that was not what Jesus meant. Unlike the billions who have lived, live, and will live, Jesus was and is the only Son of God (John 3:16). Luke began his biography of Jesus with the angel Gabriel announcing he is the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). In John’s biography, we hear John the Baptist come to the same conclusion (John 1:34). The disciples called him the Son of God (Matthew 14:33; John 1:49; 20:31). Jesus identified himself as the Son and God as his Father (Matthew 7:21; Luke 22:29; John 5:17; 6:32; 8:54; 10:29; 14:23; 15:1). That meant in his day; he was saying he was on the level with God. He was no mortal man. Nor was he bragging or exaggerating. The Jewish leadership knew what he meant and disagreed. To them, it was blasphemy and a reason for the death penalty.
But Jesus was and is God. The God-man, the second person of the Trinity. He lived a perfect life, enduring the Father’s wrath, and he became the once for all sacrifice saving all who turn from sin and trust in him. His divinity gives us surety in his ability to procure us eternity. That is why Good Friday is good, friends. The leadership missed this. Don’t do the same.
His identity points to his other-worldly home: heaven. Into your hands I commit my spirit. His last words would not have been a surprise to his parents. Angelic encounters and prophetic words paved the way to see what was to be. They knew he was more than a man. He had a unique relationship with the Father from the beginning and would not remain dead for long.
We hear this hours before Good Friday, in the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to God the Father using the Aramaic word, Abba, or daddy (Mark 14:36). Was this presumptuous or cavalier? No. He was and is the God-man from heaven. And as the God-man, with confidence and resolve, he committed his Spirit to Abba, the Father. He was returning to heaven, and that was a fact. In complete control, every molecule and minute obeyed him. The Bible tells us that Jesus’s word sustains the universe. He made the universe. He can undo the universe. His betrayal, sentence, and death were not a surprise. He was born to die. It was part of the plan to redeem man. Thus, he committed his soul to the Father, and he was intent on joining him. Friends, his divinity and death make Good Friday good.
1 John 3:1 states, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” How? How are we children of God? By believing in the finished work of Jesus, the Father calls us sons and daughters. The Bible says, “But to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13). Through the Holy Spirit, by faith, the Father welcomes you into his family. That is incredible! That is good.
J. I. Packer wrote, “Adoption ... is the highest privilege that the gospel offers.”3 God supersedes ancestry, bringing you and me into his family. The Apostle Paul wrote,
You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15–16; see also Galatians 4:4–7)
Through faith in the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we join Jesus in appealing to God as Abba, Father, daddy. Jesus paved the way by dying on our behalf, forgiving our sin, and purifying us supernaturally. Our adoption makes Good Friday good. All our evil deeds, hurtful words, unclean thoughts are as far as the East is from the West because of Good Friday (Psalm 103:12).
By grace, you can experience a relationship with the Father no parent can offer. The Father won’t neglect you because he is too busy. He won’t be rude, easily angered, or abusive. He was and is and always will be loving, patient, gracious, merciful, and kind. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present. If you want to know how much he loves you, consider this exchange: his Son for your adoption. This is why Good Friday is good, friends.
This goodness doesn’t stop; the Father is now personal and present for every believer by his Spirit. Conviction of sin, understanding truth, ability to serve and believe are evidence of his presence in addition to the other fruit of Good Friday.
The goodness of Good of Friday extends beyond this world to the next. He has given us a new home, citizenship, and inheritance. There will be no sickness, sadness, pain, and sin in the future because of that good day (Revelation 21:1–4). Joy will better than anything we could ever ask for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Lastly, Good Friday is good because of the certainty of this reality. Once adopted, you can’t be unadopted. He won’t turn his back on you, disown you, or cancel you. You can trust in him and his Word. Jesus put it this way,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30)
By faith, this is a promise for us, Church. God has written eternity in our hearts. We long for this, whether we know it or not. Not too long from this day, we will find ourselves before his face. At that time, those who embrace the goodness of Good Friday will experience this goodness in its fullness.
Perhaps, this spiritual reflection is alien. You feel the weight of your sin. If that is you, believe in this historical reality today for the first time. Jesus died to free us from guilt and shame. The Author of history wrote himself into time to reach you and me and make amends. Your job is to turn from selfishness and trust the Father. Will you? All of us need to.
It is good for us to look at the bleak reality before us. It helps us see the effect of sin. It helps us see justice as well as mercy. Cling to the goodness of Good Friday and look forward to Resurrection day, Sunday. Let us respond with song and pray.