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Jack Graham - Into Your Hands


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    Jack Graham - Into Your Hands
TOPICS: At The Cross

With our Bibles open once again to the Gospel of Luke chapter 23, we find ourselves at the cross. And one by one we're taking a long look at the words Jesus spoke at the Cross. These are often called the last words of Jesus. But, of course, we know because Christ has risen these aren't the final words of Jesus. His words live forever. Look beginning at verse 44, "It was about the sixth hour", Christ now on the cross for these hours from 9:00 AM in the morning till 3 o'clock in the afternoon. For six hours, "and there was darkness over the land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light fade and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. And then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice", this wasn't the last gasp of a worn-out life, but rather it was the cry of a victor!

With His last words He shouted, though He was suffocating! When you died on a cross as we've noted in the passed, you basically are drowning in your own fluids. Yet, God gave Him the energy and the strength to say: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit"! And having said this he breathed his last. In the words that Jesus spoke finally here we see the Savior's heart, we see the Father's hand and we see the believer's hope. First, the Savior's heart. All of these words that Jesus spoke from the cross reveal the heart of God, the great heart of Jesus. The cross and these words teach us when He died and bowed His head that He now has accomplished His sacrifice to save us from our sin! "He came to seek and to save that which is lost".

It's been my prayer in this series that you would begin to know deeper and deeper, more and more the love of God. Just how much Jesus loves each one of us, and that every person who hears these messages would receive this gift of salvation and eternal life, and that we as followers of Jesus, who trust and believe in Him, would see His heart even more, that you would cherish the cross, and cling to the old rugged cross. This is why we boast in our Lord's cross. We are obsessed with the cross because we have been saved by the one who died on that cross, and all because you are loved; God loves you!

One of the greatest minds the twentieth century has known was a German theologian by the name of Karl Barth. I don't agree with much of Barth's theology but Karl Barth had a depth of love for God. And one day he was being interviewed by a group of seminary students, just asking him questions. And they asked the great theologian, "What is the most profound, prolific thought that has ever entered your mind"? Now that's a big mind, the mind of Barth. It's a big brain. What is the greatest thought, Dr. Barth, that has ever entered your mind? They were expecting something powerful and magnificent and he gave it to them. He said, "The greatest thought that's ever entered my mind is this: Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so".

So profound that a theologian would praise the words of God and that a child can understand it. This is the love of Jesus Christ! And the fact is anyone can be saved at the cross, because the Bible tells us that Jesus died for all. Reject any theology that tells you that Jesus only died for some! Only the select or only the elect! No, the Bible tells us that He died for the sins of the whole world, that no one is excluded, that everyone is included, that the great heart of our God and Savior Jesus Christ welcomes all. Therefore we have been won by His love. There was a man standing at the foot of the cross, a Roman soldier. He had been there perhaps from the beginning, and watched Jesus die. He had never seen a man die like Jesus died.

As a soldier perhaps he had presided over hundreds, if not thousands of executions. He's seen many men die the terrible death of the cross. But something happened in His heart that day when he saw Jesus die. This hard hearted Roman soldier, this Gentile, unbeliever. In verse 47: "The centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, 'Certainly this man was innocent!'" He proclaimed the sinless Son of God. The other Gospel writers include the fact that he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God". What could have broken the hard heart of this cruel, calloused soldier? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. He was won by God's love. He'd never seen anyone like this Jesus, and he came to Christ at the cross. There were two men who were saved at the cross that day: one, when Jesus lived and spoke, "Today" to a Jewish criminal, "Today you will be with Me in paradise".

And another, a Gentile centurion, this Roman soldier who in His death brought this man to eternal life. The cross is God's great surprise! Who would have thought that a cross and a Savior dead on a cross would save the world? Would save you and me? There were many surprises at the cross that day. You know when you think about it, there are going to be some surprises in heaven. My friend, Greg Laurie says we're going to have three surprises when we get to heaven. One, we're going to be surprised at the people who are not there who we expected to be there. Jesus said, Matthew 7:22-23, "Many will say unto Me on that day", the day of Judgment, "Did we not do many wonderful works in Your name? Did we not cast out demons? Did we not speak great words"? Jesus says, "Depart from Me, you cursed into everlasting fire. I never knew you".

That's one of the scariest verses in the Bible, because here are people who actually believed and lived their lives thinking they were saved, when they're not saved. There will be people in this room who we expect to be in heaven, who won't be in heaven, because they've never received Christ and repented of their sins, and truly believed and received Christ. The second surprise when we get to heaven is that there will be people there that we didn't expect to be there who are there, and the third surprise is the fact that you and I will be there. I mean, none of us deserve to go to heaven. But because of what Christ did for us on the cross we can believe. A miracle took place.

In fact, there were several miracles that took place when Jesus showed us His heart on the cross when we see the heart of Jesus at the cross. There was an earthquake that shook the place and as a result of the earthquake, as a result of this trembling of the earth and the darkness, when Jesus died, the Bible tells us here in this passage that the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom! Now what is that about? Well, the veil of the temple was a thick, beautiful linen piece that was woven with colors: red and blue and purple. It was very thick, about a foot thick. It was thirty feet high, thirty feet long, and this massive curtain that weighed hundreds if not thousands of pounds. And this massive curtain was raised between the holy place in the temple where offerings were collected and priests were washing in basins and serving the people from the temple, that was a holy place, but the veil of the temple, this magnificent piece stood there to separate the holy place from the most holy place-the holy of holies.

The holy of holies was viewed to be the most sacred place on planet earth. Why? Because the Shekinah glory, the presence of God was in that place. Included in the holy place was the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant would contain, or rest upon it would be the Mercy seat where the blood was sprinkled on the great day of atonement. The high priest and only the high priest could go in on that day. It was a fearful thing for a man to enter into that place. They did it with fear and trembling. But to make sacrifice in the holy place. They would even tie a rope around the priest's leg when he went in there just in case they needed to get him out quick.

So the holy place representing the presence and the power of God could only be entered by the great high priest, offering a sacrifice of blood on the cross. But now not by the hands of man, but by the hands of God, from top to bottom, that veil was ripped apart! And because of Christ's death we now have a way into the presence of God forever. No more need for blood sacrifices. The blood sacrifice, the Lamb of God has been slain. No more need for Passover celebrations because we now know Jesus our Passover Lamb. Now we have boldness to enter the presence of God! He tore it down so that we can now go in! That's salvation! That's what Christ has done for us. We now have total access through Jesus. The last offer, the final and full and forever sacrifice on the cross. Jesus made a way. And now by faith we go in.

Look in Hebrews chapter 10, verses 19 and 20. Hebrews chapter 10, verses 19 to 20: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our body washed with pure water". This is all Jewish language. Hebrew language, metaphors describing the cleansing power and the opening of the door to salvation. We can now enter boldly because the same hands that were nailed to the cross, the nail-scarred hands is opened to us, not only the gates of grace, salvation, but the gates of glory so that we may enter in. There's a second thing at the cross and that is in these final words of Jesus we see the the Father's hand. He said, "Father, into Your hand I commit My spirit".

God the Father, God the Son had a perfect relationship. Jesus had always walked in obedience to the heavenly Father. He said as a twelve year old boy, "I must be about the Father's business". He communed with the Father. There was union and communion with God the Father and God the Son. When Jesus was bearing the weight of the world and cried out My God, not My Father but "My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me", in that moment He was bearing the penalty for sin and God the Father forsook Him, turned His back on Him. But now in His death, that relationship is perfectly restored, as Jesus commits Himself to the Father.

You know, one of the problems we have in this country is a fatherless America. So many people have been abandoned or even abused by their fathers. It's a major problem in our culture. So when I look at the kind of father... You say, "I don't know if I could believe in a God who is a Father because of my father". Well, our God is not like any human father, even if you had the best of fathers as I did. We have a Father who will never abuse or abandon us, who will never forsake us. And Jesus shows us this because we are in Christ. We are now in Christ and therefore we have this heavenly relationship. We are also now in the Father's hand. And He offered this prayer. It's really a simple prayer that Jesus prayed that He learned from the Scripture. This prayer is given in Psalm 31 and verse 5. It's an Old Testament prayer, prayed by David, and most likely Jesus had been repeating this as a childhood prayer, taught by His own mother. "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit".

We teach our children to pray their bedtime prayers. When I was a little guy it was common for parents to teach their children this bedtime prayer. A prayer that simply said, "Now I lay be down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. (So far, so good) If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take"! Scared me! And you probably are not teaching your children to pray that prayer today. It's a little frightening. Jesus learned a bedtime prayer, a goodnight prayer, and it was this: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit". He has been in the hands of sinful men who plucked out His beard, who planted a crown of thorns upon His head, who beat Him with whips! He was betrayed into the hands of godless men! But in His death He is in the hands of His heavenly Father. No more in the hands of men, but in the hands of God.

It's beautiful to me that Jesus is quoting scripture throughout this experience on the cross. And once again He is sustained and strengthened by God's word, as are we. Whether we live or whether we die, we are sustained by the promises and the provision of God's eternal word. And because of God's word, just as Jesus knew the Father would be there when He died, we also know because of His word, that our Father will be there for us. That no one can take us out of the Father's hands! In John chapter 10 and verse 29, one of my favorite verses, the Scripture says that no one, "My Father who has given them to Me," talking about you and me, "is greater than all and no one is able to snatch you from the Father's hands".

We are kept by the power of God. This is why I believe in the security of the believer in Christ. And because you're in the grip of Almighty God, you're in the Father's hands, nothing, not heaven, hell, nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ. You're in His hands! You're as sure for heaven in Christ as if you were already there. Why? Not because you're holding on to Him, but because He's holding on to you! We're kept! And so when we lay down to die, or when we get up to live we know that we're in the Father's hands and we are kept by His power. That's why we can live and die with confidence. The same kind of certainty and confidence expressed by the Apostle Paul who said in 2 Timothy 1:12, "I know whom I believe, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day"!

I know! Sometimes we mistranslate that verse. "I know in whom I have believed". It doesn't say, "I know in whom". It says, "I know whom I have believed"! I know the One in whom I believe! Paul didn't want even a preposition between him and Jesus. He said, "I know Jesus! And because I know Jesus, I live with a certainty of confidence that when the day comes when I stand before Him, I will be secure". Christian, you can pray this prayer every night. "Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit". When you can't sleep because the tears are coursing down your face and the fears are running through your veins, pray this prayer, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". When your heart is breaking, when your life is aching, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". He's there in the darkest hour, even in death you're in the Father's hands, Christian.

One final word: The Savior's heart, He loves you; the Father's hands, He holds you. We're held! Isn't that good? We're held! And then the believer's hope. Just as Jesus prayed, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit," we know that our spirits belong to God. This is the part of you (the spirit, the soul) that will live forever. You were made to live forever. Your body will die but your soul is the part that is made to know and love and experience God's presence and your soul will live on. The cross is so precious and so powerful, so cherished by believers because we know that even when we face the end, that we can cling to the cross. In fact I've known believers who have actually clutched crosses when they come to the end of the road.

The cross gives us hope. His victory is our victory! His hope is now our hope! As we are embraced by the Father and welcomed into His presence. Death is the final enemy. There's no getting around it; death is an enemy. Death is a terrorist. In fact the Bible tells that death is called the king of terrors! When Jesus died it was ugly, it was brutal. He was beaten, He was bludgeoned. His face was marred. His body was drenched with blood. He was soaked with His own blood! It's a terrible picture of what sin does... the death of Jesus Christ. But in the midst of all of this terror and death and hell, Jesus died in peace, Jesus died in the presence with a simple prayer as I said that He learned as a child. "Into Your hands I commit My spirit".
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