last 7 sayings

When we discuss the last seven words of Jesus from the cross, we’re referencing the seven last sayings recorded throughout the Gospels that Jesus said before dying on the cross. The phrases are as follows: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” “Woman, here is your Son. Here is your mother,” “I am thirsty,” “It is finished,” and “Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit.”

These words have formidable significance and meaning because they were the last words of Jesus that each writer of the Gospel decided to share. Each Gospel is written for a different audience and works to emphasize different parts of Jesus’ story, which explains why different phrases are recorded from each writer’s last encounter with Jesus on the cross. Let’s discuss the meaning of these powerful words from the cross.

The events of Jesus’ final words.

Jesus was ridiculed, tortured, and betrayed by the Jews. He took up His cross and was killed on the cross. He was hung, stripped of His clothes, on the cross between two criminals, suffering publicly after the Jewish people betrayed Him and insisted that He be killed despite not committing crimes. The Gospels record these final sayings during the six hours Jesus was hanging on the cross. These words hold meaning because they’re the final words of Jesus before His death, and they show us that Jesus was consistent in His message and mission up until His last breath. Each of these phrases speaks a different truth to all believers. They also confirm who Jesus was and how His death and life fulfilled the Scriptures.

“Father, forgive them.”

When Jesus cried out in prayer to God and asked Him to “forgive them for they know not what they do,” as discussed in Luke 23:34, He was looking past the violence that these men were committing against Him and seeing them as people. Jesus, who came to earth and continues to exist in heaven, is fully man and God. He acknowledges the shortsightedness of the human condition and empathizes with being sucked into evil. He was able to look past that one act and acknowledge them as valued human beings. Jeremiah 17:10 says that Jesus can see and we’re judged by our hearts, not merely our actions. For example, Jesus seems more than Peter’s spontaneous nature and charges Peter to feed his sheep in John 21. This site also lets Jesus see past the sin and see our need for forgiveness and healing.

“You will see Me in paradise.”

The second saying of Jesus on the cross, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” can be found in the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 23:43, where Jesus addresses one of the criminals crucified alongside Him. In this statement, Jesus expresses comfort and assurance to the repentant criminal. Despite the agony of the crucifixion, Jesus offers this man forgiveness and hope. By saying, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus highlights the truthfulness and certainty of His words. He assures the criminal that today, meaning immediately after their deaths, they would be in Paradise together.

“Paradise” refers to the dwelling place of the righteous in the afterlife, often understood in Christianity as communion with God, a state of bliss, and eternal happiness. Jesus’ promise to the criminal shows His grace, mercy and willingness to forgive even the most undeserving. It highlights the message of salvation through faith in Jesus and emphasizes the transformative power of belief and repentance, even in the last moments of life.

“Why have you forsaken Me?”

Jesus said these words during His final hours, which were surely heartbreaking to hear. However, the disciples would’ve recognized them as a quote from Psalm 2, which starts with the same words. The moment is thought to be when Jesus finished a mysterious miracle on our behalf. He’s crying out because He’s experiencing separation from His Father for the first time, which is the only record of Jesus not addressing God as His Father. Jesus had taken the sin upon Himself, and at the moment, the Father couldn’t be with Him. This moment is filled with mystery, as challenging as it is to fully comprehend how God’s perfect Son, Jesus, was separated from God for a moment on the cross so He could accept God’s wrath for humanity’s sin.

Habakkuk 1:13 tells us that thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and thou can’t look on wickedness with favor. God had to separate from Jesus because He couldn’t look upon sin, especially when it was being cast upon His very own Son. Jesus cries out in sorrow during this excruciating time.

“Woman, here is your Son.”

This fourth saying of Jesus on the cross is recorded in the Gospel of John, specifically John 19:26-27. This saying is significant for several reasons. In this moment, despite enduring immense suffering Himself, Jesus shows His concern for the well-being of Mary, His mother. By entrusting her care to the devoted disciple, Jesus fulfills His duty as a devoted son, ensuring that Mary will be cared for in His absence. Aside from the literal act of ensuring Mary’s physical care, this saying holds symbolic significance. Mary is typically seen as a representative figure of the Church of Christ believers.

By entrusting Mary to the care of John, He establishes a familial bond between His followers, highlighting the importance of community and care for one another within the body of believers. It also highlights Jesus’ humanity, displaying His empathy, compassion, and concern for others, even amid His suffering. It demonstrates Jesus’ teachings of selflessness and love, urging believers to imitate His example in caring for each other.

“I thirst.”

Jesus had a body, which may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s easy to forget that Jesus experienced unimaginable, real physical suffering. His deity didn’t negate His humanity, and He fully experienced hunger, pain, and thirst. In His last words on the cross, Jesus expressed pain and felt thirst. While it’s heartbreaking to think about what Jesus would have felt during His final day on earth, it can be comforting to remember that God empathizes with our physical suffering. He hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to feel His body’s limitations, pain, hunger, exhaustion, and thirst.

“It is finished.”

These are the last sayings and words from Jesus on the cross. The word Jesus used is “Tetelestai,” meaning “it is completed” or “finished.” This word was also written on business receipts in the New Testament to show that a bill was paid. Jesus is indicating that His work, His fulfillment of the prophecy, and His life are the ultimate payment for our sins. He’s completed His work on earth and has fully offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice in place of our sins.

“Father, into your hands, I commit My spirit.”

Jesus wanted to do His Father’s will. Throughout His ministry and life, He worked to carry out His Father’s will. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked God to take this cup of suffering from Him but then said not my will but yours be done, according to Matthew 26:36-56. He was obedient to God’s will and accepted the suffering of the cross because He knew this was His Father’s will for Him. When Jesus then is hanging on the cross in his last earthly moments, He says His last words of surrender in Luke 23:46.

Jesus entirely surrenders His body and soul to His Father, which is what we’re called to do as Christians: give ourselves to God. These last phrases give insight into Jesus’ mission, experience, heart, and love for us. Each phrase teaches us about His ability to empathize with our humanity. They show His unwavering commitment to His Father’s will and His fulfillment of the prophecies found in the Bible. As we prepare our hearts to celebrate this Easter, meditate on these phrases and allow their messages to deepen your love for the magnificent God we serve.

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