“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit: and having said this, He gave up the ghost.” – Luke 23:46.
III. My third text will not detain us many minutes. It is intended to explain to us THE USE OF OUR SAVIOR’S DYING WORDS FOR OURSELVES. Turn to the account of the death of Stephen, in the 7th chapter of Acts, at the 59th verse, and you will see, there, how far a man of God may dare to go in his last moments in quoting from David and from the Lord Jesus Christ. “And they stoned Stephen, as he was calling upon God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
So here is a text for us to use when we come to die—“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” I have explained to you that, strictly, we can hardly talk of yielding up our spirit, but we may speak of Christ receiving it and say with Stephen, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
What does this prayer mean? I must just hurriedly give you two or three thoughts concerning it and so close my discourse. I think this prayer means that, if we can die as Stephen did, we shall die with a certainty of immortality. Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He did not say, “I am afraid my poor spirit is going to die.” No, the spirit is something which still exists after death, something which Christ can receive and, therefore, Stephen asks Him to receive it! You and I are not going upstairs to die as if we were only like cats and dogs—we go up there to die like immortal beings
who fall asleep on earth and open our eyes in Heaven! Then, at the sound of the archangel’s trumpet, our very body is to rise to dwell, again, with our spirit—we have not any question about this matter!
But, in our Lord’s case, He was rendering up to the Father the spirit which He might have kept if He had chosen to do so. “No man takes it from Me,” He said concerning His life. “I lay it down of Myself.” And there is here a cheerful willingness to yield up His spirit into His Father’s hands! It is rather remarkable that none of the Evangelists describe our Lord as dying. He did die, but they all speak of Him as giving up the ghost—surrendering to God His spirit. You and I passively die, but He actively yielded up His spirit to His Father. In His case, death was an act and He performed that act from the glorious motive of redeeming us from death and Hell! So, in this sense, Christ stands alone in His death.