The Hands of the Father

Father, into Thy hand I commend my spirit.

— Luke 23:46

Think, brothers and sisters, we walk in the air of an eternal fatherhood. Graciousness and truth are around, above, beneath us, yea, in us. When we are least worthy, then, most tempted, hardest, unkindest, let us yet commend our spirits into his hands. Whither else dare we send them? And shall we dare to think if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, God will not give us his own spirit when we come to ask him? Will not some heavenly dew descend cool upon the hot anger? Some genial rain-drop on the dry selfishness, some glance of sunlight on the cloudy hopelessness?

Nor is there anything we can ask for ourselves that we may not ask for another. We may commend any brother, any sister, to the common fatherhood. Indeed, we shall never be able to rest in the bosom of the Father till the fatherhood is fully revealed to us in the love of the brothers. He cannot be our father save as he is their father; and if we do not see him and feel him as their father, we cannot know him as ours. Never shall we know him aright until we rejoice and exult that he is the Father of all. He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? For to rest at last in those hands into which the Lord commended his spirit, we must have learned already to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Commentary

Resting in the Father's Hands
by Dave Roney

“For to at last rest in those hands into which the Lord commended His spirit, we must have learned already to love our neighbor as ourselves.” —This is the last sentence from “The Hands of the Father,” which introduce the next Sermon in our series, titled “Love Thy Neighbor.”

When we read it is often, I think, that we concentrate so much on the inked portions that we fail to see the subtle and powerful messages recorded on the white parts of the page, becoming so literal, or analytic, in our focus, that a greater message, that of the imagination, is lost on us.  Our Lord did not intend that His few recorded words should be the boundaries of all His speaking; to the contrary, these but open to us as keys the door through which the Spirit enters in and sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts.  Through metaphor, simile, examples and parables He is always leading us into yet higher truth.  I take for an example Luke 23:46, where His recorded words say to us “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.”  And do the words mean only that in His moment of dying He released His Spirit back to His Father and ours?  Or do the words signify only that His Atonement was finished?  Do the final words supposedly mark His entry back into fellowship with the Father, as though it had been temporarily suspended?  God forbid!

He is saying more than I realize or can know, but I am sure He is saying at least this: “As for all My earthly life I have done, so also I now in My final moments continue to do!”  There is no shadow produced by turning, no shade of difference but only seamless sameness here in the commending.  Was there ever a moment when the Son of Man did not commend His spirit to the Father?  In the 9th of First Corinthians the Apostle tells us how he, as is the manner of athletes, disciplined his body to bring it into submission; do we suppose that the Lord had not always done even more?  This lad Who “grew in wisdom and stature and favor” from His earliest life forward, finding that good estate heavenward “with God” and laterally “with men” (Luke 2:52) was always commending His spirit both to God and to men.  He first commended Himself to God, and then also commended His fellows to God; the commendation was His great love, the same Love as that of the Father Who sent Him.  He trusted Himself to God and, as well and to the same flawless degree, entrusted His neighbors to God.  And His “neighbor” was every person, be it the woman breaking her precious alabaster jar or the cruel man who drove the spikes into His wrists.  His neighbor, our neighbor, is every person. 

Would we, as Christ Jesus, commend our spirits to the Father?  It is not an act for our final moment but a life-long act of ever growing contrition and surrender; our final breath is to be but a continuation of what we have been doing all along, for years of years.  And how do we commend ourselves to God except by loving Him and, therefore, loving our neighbors, whom by our love we are also commending to Him.  Into Your hands, O Father, we commend the spirits of our brothers and sisters for keeping...