“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Commend. It’s not a word we use often. Other translations say “commit” or “entrust.”

More interesting is the word, spirit, from the Hebrew word that is also variously translated as “wind” or “breath.” It’s the same root word we heard in the Old Testament reading Sunday before last, where the dry bones are reassembled with sinews and flesh and skin, but do not yet have breath in them. Then, “the breath came into them and they lived.” (Ez. 37:10)

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

It is a quote from Isreal’s songbook, Psalm 31:

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge … (v 1)
You are indeed my rock and my fortress … (v 3)
Into your hand I commit my spirit … (v 5)
I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction … and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy … (v 7/8)

The Psalmist is singing of life here, not death. He is troubled, perhaps in danger, but not about to die. It is his life that he commits to his Lord. The once-dry bones lived. Jesus entrusts his life to his Father.

Indeed, Jesus has committed his life to the Father throughout his 30-some years. At age twelve, he scolded Mary and Joseph: “Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” He frequently escaped from the adoring crowds into the desert in order to connect more deeply with the Father.

In these past weeks and days, that commitment has been sorely tested. Knowing what awaited him, he must surely have been tempted, like Jonah, to head for a seaport and a ship to Spain. Yet he turned his face toward Jerusalem. And last night (was it just last night?), when Judas left the table to meet his co-conspirators, it must have crossed Jesus’ mind to head for the Judean wilderness and then disappear into the Negev or Arabia. Instead, he prayed “Your will be done.” Instead, he walked up to the mob and said, “I’m the one you are looking for.”

In these his last words, Jesus reaffirms his lifelong commitment, entrusting his very life and breath and being to the Father.