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TEXT: Luke 23:46

SUBJECT: Henry on the Seven Sayings #7

“Father, into Your hand I commit My spirit”.

      With these words, we’ll complete the study we began a couple of months ago.  It’s called Matthew Henry on the Seven Sayings.  Our Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross for six hours—between nine in the morning and three in the afternoon.  During that time, He spoke seven times, saying everything there was to say.  Some of us could learn from this: there is often more power in a few words than in many.

      During His last hours, the Lord spoke to His Father, to His family, to His friends, and to His enemies.  Since God is the Alpha and the Omega it seems fitting that the first and last words from the cross were spoken to Him.

      Matthew Henry has a lot to say on the Lord’s final saying from the cross.  So let’s get to it.

SCRIPTURE

      In the first place, the Lord’s last cry showed His love and reverence for the Word of God.  Henry says

“He borrowed these words from His father, David, (Psalm 31:5).  Not that He need to have words put into His mouth, but He chose to make use of David’s words to show that it was the Spirit of Christ that testified in the Old Testament prophets, and that He came to fulfill the Scripture.  Christ died with Scripture in His mouth.  Thus He directs us…”

      The Puritan has hit on some important things here: First, even with His dying gasp, our Lord is thinking Biblically.  Why?  Because He had spent His whole life meditating on that Word.  Men who live without God often resort to His Word as they’re dying.  That’s good in it’s own way, but why not live in the same Word in which you hope to die?    How dear the Word of God was to our Savior!  And how precious it ought to be to us!

      It has been said that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he dies.  President Andrew Jackson was a bitter and unforgiving man who died as he had lived: “I have only two regrets in life—he said—“That I didn’t shoot Henry Clay and hang John C. Calhoun”.  How can a sinner—who hopes for mercy—die with a heart full of revenge?  Jackson did.  He lived in bitterness and died in it too.

      In the same way, our Lord lived in the Scripture and died with a quote on His lips.

      Also on this point, Henry says that our Lord died in the knowledge that He had done what God wanted Him to.  The old prophecies said a lot about Messiah’s life, His conduct, His attitude, His words, and so on.  The Lord lived up to them all.

      You are not perfect and you cannot live without sin, but you can live in God’s Word and you can die knowing—not that you’ve kept all of His commands—but that your life pleased Him.  Enoch had that testimony; Paul had it; many others have too.  Why don’t you join them?  Why don’t you live in the Word and die without regrets?

      The last words our Lord spoke before His death are a powerful witness to the life He lived in the Word and by the Word!  That’s the first thing Matthew Henry has to tell us.

ACCEPTANCE

      In the second place, the words tell us that God accepted His sacrifice.

“In this address, He calls Him Father.  When He complained of being forsaken, He cried `My God, My God’; but to show that the dreadful agony is now over, He calls Him Father”.

      This is an interesting comment: when forsaken in the place of sinners, our Lord calls His Father, God—a name that is somewhat impersonal and may give off the scent of “Judge”.  But now, He calls God “Father” signifying that the sacrifice He offered for us has been accepted.  God forsook our Lord on the cross, but—in the end—they are reconciled.  Because God’s justice has been satisfied.  Jesus Christ has suffered enough—for us.

      This means that all who believe in Christ have a Father in heaven—not Father in the sense of a superior being to whom we’re accountable (though that’s true too), but a “Father” in the sense of One who loves us more dearly than the most affectionate father on earth!

      If you have a bad father on earth, that’s all right: You have a good Father in heaven.  If you have a good father on earth, just imagine how wonderful your Father in Heaven must be.

      The Lord’s agony is over: God has once again become His Father and accepted Him as His Son.  And not just His Father, but our Father too.  And not only is Christ the Son of God, but believers are too, having been adopted into the Best Family of all.

      The words spoken to Mary Magdalene are not as well known as—let’s say--John 3:16, but they ought to be as they’re full of the same Gospel comfort,

“Go to My brethren and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father and to My God and your God”.

      Who are we to have the same God and Father as the Lord Jesus Christ?  By nature we’re children of the devil and serve the king of hell.  But by grace, we have become the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and as loved in heaven as He is!

RANSOM

      In the third place, Henry says something about the ransom paid for our salvation.

“Christ made use of these words in a sense peculiar to Himself as Mediator.  He was now to make His soul an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10), to give His life a ransom for the many (Matthew 20:28), and by the eternal spirit offer Himself to God (Hebrews 9:14).  He was Himself both the priest and the sacrifice; our souls were forfeited and His must go to redeem the forfeiture.  The price must be paid into the hands of God, the party offended by sin; to Him He had undertaken to make satisfaction”.

      Henry has packed a book of theology into one paragraph.  I’ll try to briefly open it up to you.  People owe God their obedience, but we do not pay it.  This puts us in debt to God, a debt we have no way of paying off.  Thus, God has every right to foreclose on our bodies and souls.  And He would have unless the debt had been paid for us.  Which it was by the Lord Jesus Christ!  Where would the payment go?  It would go into the hands of the creditor.  And that is exactly what our Lord is doing, offering Himself—His sinless life and sacrificial death—to satisfy God’s legal claims on us.

      He has done this.  This is why Martin Luther could call the Christian Sinful and just at the same time.   Anyone who looks at His life honestly knows He has not loved God with all his heart or his neighbor as himself.  We are still sinners and will be until we die.  Yet we are just sinners—righteous sinners because of what Christ has done for us.

      If you’re a believer, you understand the great hymn sung to our Lord Jesus Christ:

“Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill thy Law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save and Thou alone”.

      We don’t put anything into the hands of God to pay off our debt or to buy His favor.  It is Christ alone who did this.  Did this—for sinners!

EXAMPLE

      Finally, Henry says something about the Lord’s example in dying and how we ought to follow it.

“Christ has hereby left us an example, has fitted those words of David to the purpose of dying saints, and has, at it were, sanctified them for their use.   We must show that we are freely willing to die, that we firmly believe in another life after this, and are desirous of it, by saying, `Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit”.

      This is not something you’re likely to read in a modern book—not even a Christian book published in the last several decades.  What Henry is saying however, needs to be said: our witness for God includes how we die.  Dying is something we do, and I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink—or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God”.

      This means we ought to die for His glory.  Many have done this in the past: think of Stephen praising God as the rocks rain down on him, or Paul ready to be poured out as a drink offering—to God!  Adolphe Monod was a Swiss pastor in the 19th Century and one of the best preachers of his age.  He hoped to win many souls to Christ through his preaching, but he didn’t.  Because he died young.  Yet the man’s godliness was so great that younger men—especially young men aspiring to the ministry—sat with him in the last weeks of his life.  They wrote down what he said in those hard times and the words became a book, Adolphe Monod’s Farewell, one of the finest devotional books ever written and a winner of many thousands of souls.  The Bible says “The prayer of the righteous will be granted”.  Monod got what he wanted—though not in the way he wanted it.  He was a great soul winner, but like Samson he got “More in his death than he did in his life”.

      Are you going to die well?  I can tell you one thing: You will not die well without Christ.  At a funeral a last year, I heard a man say his mother (who was not a believer) died with dignity and courage.  But it wasn’t at his mother’s funeral that he said this and he wasn’t praising her.  In fact, what he was doing was contrasting  her death with the death of a saint who died in hope of eternal life.

      What a difference!  Facing the inevitable with the courage of a stoic or with the faith of a Christian!  Are you going to die in Christ?  If you are, you’d better get into Him now.  You do that through faith.

      Another thing should be said here: You will not die well if you die full of resentments and regrets.  Old grudges do not make for a happy deathbed.  And neither do the sorrows of serving yourself rather than God with the time He gave you.

      The Lord Jesus Christ had no grudges and no regrets.  He died in faith that what His Father said about the saint’s death was true: “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”.

      You need to die this way: it glorifies God and—who knows—maybe it will win that stubborn loved one to Christ.  I read of a Christian man dying with these words on his lips: “It’s all true!”  Everything God said about heaven is true.  And you’ll have them all when you die as our Lord did—with faith in the promises of God.

CLOSE

      That’s Matthew Henry on the Seven Sayings.  If you meditate on these Sayings the Lord Jesus Christ will become more and more precious to you.

      So go do it.  And God bless you, everyone.

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