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“Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit”: Did Christ Confess His Sins on the Cross?

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Choking out his final breath, Jesus Christ cried out from his crucifix, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46) The words would have been familiar to his audience (or at least familiar to the Jews that were present). Jesus in reciting these words of Old Testament Scripture (Psalm 31:5), identifies himself with the sufferings of the Psalmist himself, King David. Jesus declares himself to be the final Son of David, the eternal King whose throne will never end. More specifically, he identifies Himself as the suffering King, who lays down His life for those who would be citizens of His kingdom.

It is possible that Luke (the gospel writer who records Jesus’ final words) records this as shorthand for Jesus’ = proclamation of the whole Psalm (though we can’t be sure of this). But certainly, he points to Christ as a fulfillment of the entire Psalm, not just one verse from it. See, for instance, these other words from Psalm 31:

v. 3: “You are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.”

v. 8: “You have set my feet on a broad place.” (Remember that Jesus’ feet were nailed to a narrow board.)

v. 13: “…They plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD.”

v. 21: “Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.”

These all are beautifully fulfilled in Christ. One verse, however, always leaves me scratching my head. It is verse 10, “For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.”

So the question I have is, “How can Jesus apply this Psalm to himself if he did not have any iniquity in the first place?

The word for “iniquity,” which in English means something like “sin or immorality” in Psalm 31 means either “sin,” “guilt from sin,” or “punishment for the guilt of that sin.” It is hard to distinguish them in many cases, though there is some hair-splitting distinction. Whatever the exact pinpointed meaning is, we can be sure that the verse means, “My strength fails because of the weight of sin, from its origin to the guilt I received from it, to its consequences– all of it.” How could Christ invoke this Psalm at the time of His death? After all, the next verse in Luke is a soldier declaring Jesus’ innocence: “Certainly this man was innocent!” (Luke 23:47)

This is because Christ, though innocent, had taken on Himself the iniquities of His people. As the Psalmist bore his own sins, Jesus Christ, the greater King David, bore the sins of others, even those who hated him. As Jesus also identifies with a few verses earlier in the Psalm, “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,” He dove to the depths, taking on the wrath of God for those same idol worshippers. The hatred God had towards idol-worshipping Jay was placed on Christ, so I could have peace with God. The iniquity that wasted away Jesus’ bones, leaving Him sweating drops of blood in the garden and panting like a dying lamb on the cross, was our iniquity. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin… On the cross, Jesus did not lay before God His own sins, but ours.

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Written by keywoodblog

March 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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