All the Way to Calvary: The Seventh Cry From the Cross

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luk 23:46).[1] Last words are often powerful and memorable, and these are no exception. This last saying from Jesus’ lips is also a prayer, as were his first and fourth sayings. All three are closely tied to Scripture. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (v34) brings Isaiah 53:12 to mind – He “made intercession for the transgressors.” “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” fulfilled Psalm 22:1. His final cry, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” is a quotation of Psalm 31:5. When everyone else had abandoned Him, Jesus found prayer and Scripture to be His close companions.

Let’s carefully examine Christ’s final words before His death and let them speak to us.


Luke records not only Jesus’ last words but also His first, and in both, His focus was on the Father. As a boy of twelve, after being left behind in the temple at Jerusalem, He said to Mary and Joseph, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49 NKJV). From beginning to end, the focus of Jesus’ life was on doing His Father’s will. What a perfect example He has left us.

His quotation of Psalm 31:5 here contains two noticeable differences. First, He adds the word “Father.” It seems clear from the biblical record that no one ever addressed God this way until Jesus did. And this tender address is how He instructs us to pray also (Mat 6:6,9). Second, our Savior only quoted the first half of the verse. The second half of Psalm 31:5 records David saying, “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” The sinless Savior didn’t need to be redeemed; He came to be our Redeemer.

“Into thy hands”

Even though Jesus had just been forsaken by God, He confidently entrusted Himself into the hands of His Father. For many hours, He had been in the hands of sinners, something He specifically told His disciples would occur – “The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men” (Mar 9:31).[2] These unloving hands would bind Him, beat Him, lash Him, weave a crown of thorns for His brow, strip Him, wound Him, crucify Him and pierce His side. But now it was time for Christ to place Himself into the loving hands of His Father.

The Father’s hands are the safest place in the universe. Eternal security is there. Jesus said about His sheep, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish …. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (Joh 10:28-29). Make sure you are in the Father’s hands before your last words are spoken. Better yet, make sure you’re in His hands right now. How good it is to be able to say,

Our souls are in God’s mighty hand,
We’re precious in His sight;
And you and I shall surely stand
With Him in glory bright.[3]

“I commend”

Luke records the final cry of Jesus as being spoken with “a loud voice.” Normally, crucifixion victims would become delirious, unconscious, and finally die in frailty. Not so Jesus. He was lucid and in control to the very end; death was entirely His choice. He acted to commend (or commit) His spirit to the Father; He willingly “gave up the ghost.” Jesus’ death came as a surprise to Pilate (Mar 15:44), because a crucified person would not normally have died this quickly, especially without his legs being broken. But Jesus did because it was a voluntary act of giving up His life.

David prayed these words (Psa 31:5) hoping to be preserved from death. The Lord Jesus prayed these words willingly entering into death.[4] The word “commend” means that Jesus trusted His Father for what was ahead. He knew that He was entering into death but trusted His Father to raise Him to life again. And now, because Jesus died and rose again, we too can die the same way, entrusting our all into the Father’s hands, knowing that resurrection day awaits us. But we can trust Him not only with our spirits in death, but with our cares in life.

Our times are in Thy hand;
Father, we wish them there!
Our life, our souls, our all we leave
Entirely to Thy care.[5]

“My spirit”

“The spirit is the highest part of us. Animals have souls, but only mankind has a spirit that makes fellowship with God possible. At death our spirit will depart … either to the light of eternal day or the darkness of eternal night.”[6] Jesus committed His spirit to the Father and entered into paradise. Later that day, the criminal who died next to Him would join the Savior there, because He had Jesus’ promise: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luk 23:43 NET).

Final words are important, but your final destiny is the most pressing thing you could ever consider. And unless you can die with Jesus’ last words on your lips, you’re not ready to die at all. Make sure you don’t leave this world until you can say with confidence, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

[2] See also Matthew 26:45,50; Mark 14:41,46

[3] Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

[4] Psalm 31:5 became the Jews’ traditional evening prayer, offered before going to sleep. Those who heard Jesus’ words may have made this connection. He was entering into the ultimate “sleep” – death.

[5] William Freeman Lloyd (1791-1853)

[6] Erwin W. Lutzer, Cries From the Cross (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2002), 138.