GET ACQUAINTED: What is one of the riskiest things you’ve ever done?
SCRIPTURE: “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’” (Luke 23:44-47 )
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
OBSERVATION: You may have heard the expression “famous last words”. Some of these last words may be funny, prophetic, or significant. But the most significant last words ever spoken were the words Jesus spoke while he was on the cross. Every word Jesus spoke is significant, not just related to His death, but to how we are to live our lives every day. As we see from the verse above, even the Roman Centurion in charge of the execution recognized the significance of what Jesus said. When the story is presented in Mark chapter 15 and Matthew chapter 27, the Centurion even acknowledges that Jesus must be the Son of God. There are three important points to remember when we think about the death of Jesus. The first is that Jesus gave up His life voluntarily, as He said in John 10:18 (NLT) “No one can take my life from me. I lay down my life voluntarily.” The second point to remember is that Jesus gave up His life reverently. He focuses on the Father, not on His pain; and He quotes Scripture with His last words. When Jesus spoke the words we will look at in this study, He was quoting Psalm 31:5 (NLT), “I entrust my Spirit into your hand”, which was used by Jews as an evening prayer. The third point to remember is that Jesus gave up His life confidently. As it says in Luke 23:46 (NLT) above, “Jesus shouted”. His last words are not words of despair or defeat, but words of victory. For the last 2000 years, people have used these last words. In this study we will learn three truths we can trust to bring us hope and assurance.
1. I’m in a trusted relationship. “Father …” (v. 46)
2. I know where I am headed. “… into your hands …”
Read Isaiah 40:12 and Psalm 95:4 : How big are God’s hands? According to Isaiah 62:3 , what will God’s people be in God’s hands? According to Isaiah 49:15-16 , how was Jesus scarred so that God will never forget us? According to John 10:29 , what will happen to believers once God has them in His hand? Who can take them out of His hand?
3. I know I will finish well. “… I commit my Spirit!”
Read Job 23:9-10 . What does this verse say God is doing even when I can’t see Him? Seeing God’s work in tangible ways is different than experiencing His work in our spirit. How can the evidence of God’s presence help our faith for the spiritual things that He wants to do? Name some difficult circumstances where God has proved faithful in your life.
Personal Application and Commitment: We have come to the end of this series; looking at the last words Jesus spoke as He was dying on the cross. But this is not the end of the story. Easter proves that death is not the end. For those who believe and accept that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins, we look forward to a life in Heaven with Him. Read through Psalm 31 and spend some time reflecting on the trust and confidence David puts in God. Think about how these last words of Jesus can affect you and what you face every day. What do you need to trust God with? Put it in the hands of the God who loves you. He can handle anything you can give him.
Prayer: “Father, you are trustworthy. You continue to work in believers’ lives in ways that we cannot even understand or imagine at times. Because of our lack of trust, we experience unnecessary anxiety and fear. Father, help us to trust You more and experience the fullness of Your grace and peace regardless of circumstances. Amen.”