"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
Jesus Christ made seven final statements during his last hours on the cross. These phrases are held dear by followers of Christ because they offer a glimpse into the depth of his suffering to accomplish redemption.
Recorded in the Gospels between the time of his crucifixion and his death, they reveal his divinity as well as his humanity. As much as possible, given the approximate sequence of events as portrayed in the Gospels, these seven last words of Jesus are presented here in chronological order.
1) Jesus Speaks to the Father, Luke 23:34
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
Even among His excruciating suffering and pain, the heart of Jesus was focused on others rather than Himself. Here we see the nature of His love—unconditional and divine.
Dear Lord, though I believe at one level that you have forgiven me, this amazing truth needs to penetrate my heart in new ways. Help me to know with fresh conviction that I am fully and finally forgiven, not because of anything I have done, but because of what you have done for me. May I live today as a forgiven person, opening my heart to you, choosing not to sin because the power of sin has been broken by your salvation. May I live today as a person who forgives the ones who have hurt me. I may not understand their actions, but allow me the grace to forgive. Thank you Jesus for your matchless forgiveness! Amen.
2) Jesus Speaks to the Criminal on the Cross, Luke 23:43
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Jesus spoke to the one criminal who was being crucified with Christ. This man recognized who Jesus was and expressed faith in him as Savior. Here we see grace poured out through faith, as Jesus assured the dying man of his forgiveness and eternal salvation.
Dear Lord Jesus, how I wonder at your grace and mercy! O Lord, though my situation is so different from the criminal who cried out to you, I am nevertheless quite like him. Today I live, trusting you and you alone. When I cry out to you, you hear me! Your mercy, dear Lord, exceeds anything we might imagine. It embraces us, encourages us, heals us. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom! Amen.
3) Jesus Speaks to Mary and John, John 19:26-27
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple John whom He loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple John, "Here is your mother." Jesus, looking down from the cross, was still filled with the concerns of his mother. None of his brothers were there to care for her, so he gave this task to the Apostle John. Here we clearly see Christ's humanity in caring for His mother.
Lord Jesus, the presence of your mother at the cross engages my heart and shows us the human side of this sacrifice. You are not only the Savior dying for our sins, but a son with a mother. O Lord, how do I thank you for what you suffered? I don't know where to start. Nevertheless, I will start with a thank you. Thank you for bearing my sin on the cross. I give you my praise, my love, my heart . . . all that I am, because you have given me all that you are. Thank you Jesus, Savior of the world . . . my Savior! Amen.
4) Jesus Cries Out to the Father, Matthew 27:46 (also Mark 15:34)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” In the darkest hours of his suffering, Jesus cried out. This shows us the agony Christ felt as he expressed separation from God. Here we see the Father turning way from the Son as Jesus bore the full weight of our sin.
O Lord Jesus, I will never fully understand the wonder and horror of your abandonment by the Father. Every time I think about this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. How can I ever thank you for what you did for me? What can I do for you? I can offer myself to you in gratitude and praise? Thank you, Lord. Thank you Lord for taking my place. Let me remember this and never doubt that you did this so that I might never be forsaken by the Father. Thank you Jesus!
5) Jesus is Thirsty, John 19:28
Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, "I am thirsty." Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:20-21. Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me. But instead, they give me poison for food;
they offer me sour wine for my thirst.
O Lord, once again I thank you for what you suffered on the cross. Not only did you experience extraordinary pain, you also experienced extreme thirst. All of this was part of your taking on our humanity so that you might take away our sin.
Dear Lord, when you spoke the words, “I am thirsty” , I hear myself speaking those words. I too am thirsty, Lord, not for physical drink. I don’t need sour wine. Rather, I need the new wine of your kingdom to flood my soul. I need to be refreshed by your living water. I yearn for your Spirit to fill me once again. I am thirsty, Lord, for you. Amen.
6) It is Finished, John 19:30
... he said, "It is finished!" Jesus knew he was suffering the crucifixion for a purpose. Earlier he had said in John 10:18 of his life, "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." These three words were packed with so much meaning. The Scriptures had been fulfilled.
How can I ever find words to express my gratitude to you, dear Lord Jesus? You did it. You finished what you had been sent for, faithful in life, faithful in death. You took the sin of the world upon your sinless shoulders . . . taking my sin so that I might receive your forgiveness and new life. Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me!
7) Jesus' Last Words, Luke 23:46
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. Here Jesus closes with the words of Psalm 31:5, speaking to the Father. We see his complete trust in the Father. Jesus offered up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placed himself in God's hands.
Gracious Lord, even as you once entrusted your spirit into the hands of the Father, so I give my life to you. I trust you, and you alone to be my Savior. Here I am, Lord, available to you, both now and in the future. Let us reflect upon your death, not in despair, but in hope. With Good Friday behind us, Easter Sunday is on the horizon. Amen.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen