Featured Items Ritchie Christian Media

July 2005

From the editor: Character Studies in the Assembly (5)
J Grant

The First Book of Samuel (2)
J Riddle

The Offerings (3)
J Paton

How People met the Saviour (1)
W Ferguson

Book Review

Eternal Punishment (2)
E W Rogers

Question Box

Supper at Simon’s
J Gibson

Notebook: Jephthah the Judge
J Grant

Be not ignorant (5)
R Catchpole

Words from the Cross (7)
C Jones

Whose faith follow: Andrew Reid Ruddock (1865-1945)
J G Hutchinson

The Fall
W W Fereday

With Christ

The Lord’s Work & Workers


Words from the Cross (7)

C Jones, Cardiff

Into thy hands

The last words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung on the Cross were words of triumph, faith, and contentment. Having glorified His Father and paid the penalty for the guilt and sin of the whole world, and being in full and absolute control of this, as of every situation, the Lord cried with a loud voice and said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Lk 23.46). Scripture tells us that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9.27). The Saviour, however, bore our judgment and then, in obedience to His Father’s will, He died. He died "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2.14).

Thy Hands

Man is a tripartite creation of God, having body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess 5.23). The Lord was like us in every way, apart from our sin (Heb 2.16,17; 4.15). He had a body (Heb 10.5), a soul (Mt 26.38), and a spirit (Lk 23.46), and He commended that spirit into the hands of His Father.

This was the last of the Lord’s seven utterances on the Cross. The number seven, in Scripture, indicates completeness, perfection, or fullness. Three of His cries were prayers (Lk 23.34; Mt 27.46; Lk 23.46). He began His first prayer on the Cross with the word, "Father", but in His second prayer He had said, "My God", for, in the darkness, He had endured the terrible experience of being forsaken by His God and had suffered unfathomable depths of torment and agony as He paid the price of our redemption (Is 53.3-12). When that price had been fully paid the darkness ended, communion was restored, never to be broken again. His sufferings came to an end at the ninth hour, the time of the evening sacrifice, and the hour of prayer (Dan 9.21; Lk 23.44; Acts 3.1). The cry He then uttered, and addressed to His Father, was a quotation from Psalm 31.5 which was used during the evening devotions of the Jews.

Hanging on the Cross as our substitute, the Lord had endured shame and suffering and had glorified His Father. He commended His spirit into the hands of His Father, having previously been in the hands of men. He had been "betrayed into the hands of men" (Mt 17.22), "into the hands of sinners" (Mt 26.45). He was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God…taken, and by wicked hands…crucified and slain" (Acts 2.23). He allowed Himself to be taken and led "as a lamb to the slaughter" (Is 53.7), and voluntarily died, giving Himself for us (Gal 1.4; 2.20; Eph 5.2,25). Before He died He commended His spirit into His Father’s hands with complete confidence and trust in His Father’s infinite love and power. The Lord knew that in a short time His body would be raised from among the dead and that He would ascend bodily to heaven to sit "on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb 1.3).

He tasted death

In His first recorded words on earth the Lord mentioned His Father saying, "I must be about my Father’s business" (Lk 2.49). All through His earthly life He had done His Father’s will (Ps 40.8; Lk 22.42; Jn 4.34; 6.38). Death, both physical and spiritual, in the sense of eternal separation from God, is a result of sin (Rom 5.12; 6.23), but the eternal Son of God is sinless (2 Cor 5.21; 1 Pet 2.22; 1 Jn 3.5). Death had no claim upon Him and yet, obedient to His Father’s will, He died on the Cross (Phil 2.8). He cried "with a loud voice". He was not dying out of physical weakness but voluntarily. The Lord who had said of Himself, "I am the resurrection, and the life" (Jn 11.25), who had raised from the dead Lazarus (Jn 11.44), the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7.15), and the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5.42), gave "his life a ransom for many" (Mt 20.28). He had been born so that, as our representative and substitute, He, the eternal and beloved Son of God, might, "his own self", bear our sins "in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet 2.24). He, the Perfect Man, bore the punishment due to us so that believers might be saved, and at the end of His time on the Cross He tasted "death for every man" (Heb 2.9).

The death of the Lord is recorded in each of the Gospels and the words used reflect the central theme of each Gospel. In Matthew, where we see Him as the Messiah-King, we read that He "yielded up the ghost" (Mt 27.50). The original words used imply that He dismissed His spirit with regal authority. In Mark, the Gospel of the Perfect Servant, and in Luke where He is presented as the Son of Man, the Perfect Man, it is stated that He "gave up the ghost", He breathed His last, He expired (Mk 15.37; Lk 23.46), the sense being that it was an act of submission. In the Gospel according to John, which stresses the deity of the Lord, that He is the Son of God, we read that He "bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (Jn 19.30), and here the sense is that He reclined His head in a restful position and that He delivered up His spirit into His Father’s hands.

The Lord’s death was not like the death of a mere man, for He determined the precise moment of His death. Having completed all the work His Father had given Him to do, He dismissed His spirit. He had said, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (Jn 10.17,18). He died as our substitute. His death was of His own volition, and it was a victorious death.

My Father is greater than all

The eternal security of believers is based on the love, power, and immutability of the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Saviour suffered and died for us, having committed, in the sense of entrusted, His spirit into the hands of His Father. In those hands there is eternal security for all believers. The Lord said that He gives to believers eternal life, "and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one" (Jn 10.28-30). Those of us who have been saved by grace through our God-given faith (Eph 2.8) are the Children of God. God is our loving, unchanging, infinitely powerful Father. He loves us as He loves the Lord Jesus (Jn 17.23), and we can gladly say, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 Jn 3.1). Our eternal security is assured through the eternal efficacy of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The eternal prospect of believers contrasts with the dreadful eternal prospect of the lost, for those poor people will learn the truth of the words "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12.29). For unbelievers it will be "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10.31). The attitude of believers to death is very different from that of those who have not been saved. The death of those who have died conscious and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ has often been a great testimony. Stephen died fully trusting his Lord and Saviour and graciously witnessing for Him (Acts 7.59,60). Paul could say, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim 1.12). For Paul, to die was gain (Phil 1.21); it was to "be with Christ" (Phil 1.23), and "to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor 5.8).

Infinite love, grace, and mercy have been bestowed upon us, and wonderful salvation procured for us, at infinite cost. How blessed are those of us who are waiting to be taken to be with the Lord forever. Truly we can say, "The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad" (Ps 126.3).



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