The Seven Last Sayings of Jesus Christ

With the coming of Lent and Easter, Christians across the globe are once again called upon to remember how Jesus suffered and died on the cross to atone for the sins of mankind and to guarantee eternal life for each and every one of us.

The Gospels recorded that throughout the 6 hours Jesus was on the cross, he uttered 7 statements known as the seven last words of Jesus Christ. The writers of the Gospels wrote these statements down for humanity to have for the future because they are extremely important. Together they provide an enduring lesson as to how we must conduct ourselves in this earthly world.

The following is a list of these seven last sayings as written in scripture and an explanation of their significance to Christians everywhere.

1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 24:34

Here, the first of the seven last words of Jesus Christ is a prime example of his selflessness. Amidst his unbearable pain, Jesus’ loving heart was full of concern for others.

Remarkably, he was actually praying for forgiveness for his enemies who were responsible for his agony. The men who tortured and crucified Jesus had no idea of the depth of the evil they were committing because to them he was not known as the Messiah.

But it was not only them for whom Jesus prayed. His plea to the Father included the religious leaders who derided him and the crowd that had scorned him and demanded his crucifixion. So even as he suffered, Jesus continued to love unconditionally those who had inflicted this fate upon him and to ask for the Father’s mercy on them.

By doing this, Jesus was also carrying out a prophecy from the Old Testament: “He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12

We must never forget that because of original sin all of us were offenders of God from the moment of our birth, but in his mercy and love, he refused to simply condemn us as the words of Jesus prove here.

If we repent our sins and wrongdoing and ask forgiveness, God will always grant us our request and bestow upon us his grace and love.

2. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:43

While Jesus was on the cross, there were also two criminals who were being crucified along with him. While one of them mocked him for not being able to save himself from death, the other acknowledged him as the Savior and asked to be remembered by him in heaven. Jesus rewarded him for believing in him with the promise of eternal salvation.

This shows us all that it is never too late to seek forgiveness and redemption. After all, here was a man who had spent a lifetime doing evil and now he was paying the ultimate price for his actions. He realized that Jesus was his Lord and master and repented, but had come to this discovery too late to change the way he lived his life. He was simply out of time. Yet because he was genuinely remorseful and had accepted Jesus into his heart, he was forgiven and promised eternal life in heaven.

3. “Woman, behold your son.” – John 19:26

When Jesus saw his mother Mary standing at the foot of the cross beside the Apostle John, known as the disciple he loved, he first said, “Woman, behold your son.”

Then he focused his gaze on John and said, “Behold your mother!” This is an example of Jesus’ continuing concern and love for his mother, as even facing death he was providing for her needs. From that time forward, John was responsible for Mary and he took her to live in his home.

So here we see yet another example of Jesus’ humanity in his devotion to his mother. Certainly, it is vitally important to nurture our spiritual connection with God in this life, but that does not absolve us from carrying out the duties we have in our earthly relationships.

One other thing that is important to mention here is that the law at the time stated that the firstborn son had to care for his parents and Jesus always respected the law. Thus, he was adhering to the law even while facing certain death himself.

4. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” – Matthew 27:6

This utterance is translated as, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Using these words, Jesus, who has always enjoyed a spiritually close relationship with God, showed his humanity by asking why His heavenly Father has abandoned him.

This cry carried all the torment a human son would feel at being separated from his father as Jesus now was due to carrying the weight of humanity’s sins.

While this may be hard, if not impossible for us to comprehend, it is also what had to be in order for mankind to be saved. God was allowing the weight of the sins of the entire world to settle onto the strong shoulders of his son.

He was permitting Jesus to absorb all of the sins upon the earth so that everyone who had been tainted by the stain of original sin could now find forgiveness in their heavenly father. However, this necessitated that God create a barrier between himself and his beloved son, that he forsake him and permit him to be punished so that all of mankind could live.

There is one other lesson that comes at this time from Jesus being on the cross, which is to know that our Lord understands what it is like to feel alone.

So whenever you feel that you are alone in the world or that there is no one there for you, turn to Christ in your emotional pain and he will give you the compassion and love you need. While your friends, companions, parents, teachers, and other people in your life may fail you, Jesus never will and his unending love can get you through anything.

Finally, it is interesting to note that previously the religious leaders who had persecuted and condemned him had jeered at Jesus, ridiculing him by using words taken from Psalm 22, which was a prophecy about the Messiah, Matthew 27:41-43. With his cry to know why God had abandoned him, Jesus also quoted the same psalm back at them which his enemies had used against him.

5. “I thirst!” – John 19:28

In this, the fifth of the seven last sayings, Jesus is aware that his mission is now coming to a close and that he had accomplished all that he intended to. Now he is deliberately fulfilling the prediction of Psalm 69:21: “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” This prompted the Roman guards to fetch him a mixture of vinegar and wine, which he refused to drink.

It also serves as a reminder to us that Jesus had chosen to come to earth as a man, and as such, he was capable of experiencing the pain, anguish, and trauma that a victim of crucifixion would feel.

6. “It is finished!” – John 19:30

Jesus is on the cross and states for all present to hear that his work and mission are now complete. What he said in John 10:18 about his life explains this clearly. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

It is written nowhere but in the Gospel of John, that the Greek word tetelestai, translated into “it is finished” is actually used in accounting and means “paid in full.” Once Jesus had said this, he was affirming that the debt owed to his heavenly Father by humanity was now erased.

Furthermore, he was declaring his victory over Satan, as it was the devil all along who tempted man and placed the entire world in jeopardy. And Satan who continued to poke and prod at mankind, urging us to swerve from the clearly defined path of goodness and step onto the path of evil with its many twists and turns that lead us astray.

So Jesus recognized that he was going to die soon and thus would finish his mission here on earth — offering himself to God as reparation for our sins, and literally giving his blood to save mankind. Yet, this was not a cry of submission, but rather one of victory, for not only was the life of Jesus here on earth finished and his reason for coming to earth in the first place — to pay humanity’s debt to God — now fulfilled but his last act of complete obedience to his Father’s will.

Some have pointed out, furthermore, that there was one other thing accomplished here. Because Jesus had led a blameless and sinless life, his life was indeed a flawless sacrifice – the consummate gift to God as reparation for the sins of mankind.

This meant that it would no longer be imperative to make animal sacrifices because they had merely been an indicator of the utmost sacrifice which Jesus had now given to God. Henceforth, God was pleased and granted all of us His salvation and grace.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” – Luke 23:46

After making this statement, Jesus surrendered his spirit and died.

Prior to this, Jesus had once declared that he would willingly give his life for his sheep. “Therefore my Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:17, 18).

We learn from this statement that Jesus had to actually send his spirit forth because there was no way for it to be taken from him. In order to die for our sins, he had to allow himself to become a victim, thus opting for death.

In other words, he had to choose death, otherwise it could not claim him. This affirms Jesus’ power over life and death as well as his authority as the true son of God.

It is true that everything which occurred as Jesus was on the cross is not revealed to us, however, in these seven last sayings, we are presented with a picture of Jesus that we haven’t seen before.

Here is a man, battling pain and the knowledge of his imminent death, still he is concerned for the spiritual and physical well-being of others while keeping in mind the need to fulfill the mission God has entrusted him with as the Savior of all mankind.

Let this serve as a reminder to us that when we too face suffering, depression, misery and feel defeated, we can turn to God and place ourselves in his hands. For he is always there – nonjudgemental – always willing to offer help and understanding just as an earthly father would be, but he will also gift us with his amazing grace that only a heavenly Father can give; unending and pure.

Conclusion

The seven last words of Jesus Christ while he was hanging on the cross have widespread consequences for us even in this day and age. They serve as a reminder that his death has far greater meaning than just an act of love and caring.

The death of Jesus on the cross was a monumental sacrifice that made entry into heaven possible and provided salvation for all people. It is a sign of hope, a reassurance that death is not the end, but a mere transition in the scheme of things.

There really is no ultimate death, as while the physical body dies, it is not all there is in the least. The spirit, our human essence given to us by the Creator will never cease to exist but will live on eternally in the presence of God.

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