March 18, 2018
Last Words: Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit
There is an old Christian bedtime prayer that is familiar to many of us: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” This prayer has been a part of the daily routine of believers for over a hundred years, but it is not the first bedtime prayer ever written. The Jewish people in the time of Jesus also had a bedtime prayer, taken from Psalm 31:5, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.”
This Jewish bedtime prayer was the last thing Jesus said before he died on the cross. It is worth noting, however, that Jesus changed this prayer ever so slightly by adding the word ‘Father’ to the beginning of it. For Jesus, this was a prayer, not of dereliction, but of homecoming. He was saying, in essence, “I’m going to sleep one last time. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
In this prayer, Jesus has given us a new name for God: Father. While fatherhood is, for many, burdened with the baggage of parental sin, it was not that way for Jesus. Jesus has the perfect father, and he loved to brag about his dad. In fact, the night before he was crucified, Jesus spent a long time with his disciples, bragging about his father.
We find this story in John 14, and in this passage Jesus reveals three truths about his Father to the disciples. First, he tells them that his Father is good. This means that he is worthy of imitation and representation, which is what Jesus did here on earth. Second, he tells them that his Father is generous. This means that he is worthy of our trust and dependence. Finally, he tells them that his Father is loving, which means that he is worthy of our worship and obedience.