One of the final things Jesus did is recorded in Matthew 27:50: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.” This final action takes place after Jesus had endured unimaginable suffering. He had been betrayed and rejected by the very people He came to save. He had been handed over to the ruling authorities to be flogged. He had been forced to carry His instrument of execution. He had been mocked, spit on, beaten, and nailed to a cross. And all of this only accounts for the physical and social pain inflicted. On top of it all, Jesus took on the weight of our sin and experienced separation from the Father.
What Matthew 27:50 tells us, is that Jesus experienced all of this hardship voluntarily, and once the job He came to accomplish was done, He, willingly, gave up His own Spirit. The religious leaders who turned Him over to be crucified did not take His spirit. The Roman soldiers who carried out His crucifixion did not take His spirit. Not even the evil spirits behind those powers, nor the devil himself could take His spirit. He received the worst these powers could dish out, exhausted them of their malice, and then He gave up His spirit. By willingly suffering in this way, Jesus "disarmed the powers and authorities" and He, “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). What was meant to be the instrument of His public humiliation became the means by which He humiliated the dark powers of this world. What was meant to be the mechanism of His death became the vehicle by which He defeated death. All because He had the humility to take on suffering that He did not deserve and the willingness to give up His spirit.
Because Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” and He “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross,” “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php. 2:7-11). And Paul calls us, as followers of Jesus, to imitate the same humility in our lives (Php. 2:5). In Jesus’ Kingdom, we don’t lord authority over others. “Instead,” Jesus tells us, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:42-45). This is the way power works in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is how Jesus conquered death. When Jesus’ followers imitate Him in this way and do “not love their lives so much as to shrink from death,” they overcome the Enemy as well (Rev. 12:11). Our Savior showed us the way by giving up His spirit for us.