The Seven Last Sentences from Jesus
1. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”— Luke 23:34, NIV
This first saying of Jesus on the cross is traditionally called "The Word of Forgiveness”. It is theologically interpreted as Jesus' prayer for forgiveness for the Roman soldiers who were crucifying him and all others who were involved in his crucifixion.
For you and me: If Jesus could not only forgive them for what they did to Him, but also ask God to forgive them, what’s our excuse for holding a grudge or seeking revenge. And note that Jesus recognized that they did not know what they were doing. It does make it a bit easier to let go when you determine that those that hurt you really had no idea what they were doing.
Up until His last moments, He was concerned about the souls of some very mean people. What about us?
2. To day shalt thou be with me in paradise…
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”— Luke 23:43, NIV
This saying is traditionally called "The Word of Salvation". According to Luke's gospel, Jesus was crucified between two thieves (traditionally named Dismas and Gestas), one of whom supports Jesus' innocence and asks him to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus replies, "Verily I say unto thee...", followed with the only appearance of the word "paradise" in the gospels.
A seemingly simple change in punctuation in this saying has been the subject of doctrinal differences among Christian groups, given the lack of punctuation in the original Greek texts.Catholics and most Protestant Christians usually use a version which reads "today you will be with me in Paradise". This reading assumes a direct voyage to Heaven. On the other hand, some who who believe in soul sleep have used a reading which emphasizes "I say to you today", leaving open the possibility that the statement was made today, but arrival in Heaven may be later.
But the point is that the soul of that sinner was not lost because he reached out to Jesus for salvation. He could not recite the “Roman road to salvation”, nor go over the “five spiritual laws” for salvation, or receive communion or baptism—-he merely admitted the obvious—-“this man (Jesus) is innocent but we (the other criminal) deserve death.” If you’ve reached the end of your rope and cried out to the Lord, you will be saved. Are you there yet? Don’t wait till the last minute and miss out on an abundant conclusion of your years. Tell Him the truth and ask Him to remember you—He will!
3. Woman, behold, thy son! Behold, thy mother…
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”— John 19:26–27
This statement is traditionally called "The Word of Relationship" and in it Jesus entrusts Mary, his mother, into the care of "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Even in death He was concerned about others. He looked after His family—the one that nurtured Him and to whom the Holy Spirit conceived Him. “Take care of this woman John!” Jesus wanted to be sure that someone took care of His widowed mother. Do we, who are not hanging on a cross in agony, offer the same concern for our mothers—or fathers or children? Have we taken into account their well-being as we consider our departure one day? Do you have a will? Do you have life insurance? Have you come to realize that you are going to die one day?
4. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? "
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”— Mark 15:34
This is the only saying which appears in more than one gospel, and is a quote from Psalm 22:1. In both accounts, the words spoken by Jesus have been transliterated from Aramaic into Greek, and there are slight differences between the two versions. In the verses immediately following this saying, in both gospels, the onlookers who hear Jesus' cry mistakenly believe him to be calling for help from Elijah.
This saying is taken by some as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. Another interpretation holds that at the moment when Jesus took upon himself the sins of humanity, the Father had to turn away from the Son because the Father is "of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong" (ESV). Other theologians understand the cry as that of one who was truly human and who felt forsaken. Put to death by his foes, very largely deserted by his friends, he may have felt also deserted by God.
Jesus was truly suffering. God did not remove the pain, humiliation, indignity and lonesomeness of Him hanging there on that tree. He was determined to be obedient to His Father, and even then He could have called down 10,000 angels, He choose to go through the suffering because of His love ……for those at the foot of the cross that were watching Him die….and for you and me.
Sometimes God will seem distant and quiet and you might feel abandoned. Does it not encourage you to know that Jesus understands first hand that feeling?
5. I thirst…
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.”— John 19:28. This statement is traditionally called "The Word of Distress" and is compared and contrasted with the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Only John records this saying, but all four gospels relate that Jesus was offered a drink of sour wine. In Mark and Matthew, a sponge was soaked in the wine and lifted up to Jesus on a reed; John says the same, but states that the sponge was affixed to a hyssop branch.
This statement of Jesus is interpreted by John as fulfillment of the prophecy given in Psalm 69:21, "in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink"; hence the quotation from John's gospel includes the comment "that the scripture might be fulfilled”.
We forget that in His frail human embodiment Jesus got tired, hungry, needed sleep, bled, wept and would die. He was not some sort of superman that was impervious to hurts and cuts and bruises. The man had bled pints of blood, had sweated and was exhausted and near the point of death.
But instead of water they offered Him vinegar. Is He asking for something as simple as water from you and you’re offering Him something less? Why can’t we simply listen and respond to He requests?
6. It is finished…
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”— John 19:30This statement is traditionally called "The Word of Triumph" and is theologically interpreted as the announcement of the end of the earthly life of Jesus, in anticipation for the Resurrection.
The Greek word translated "It is finished" is tetelestai (τετέλεσται). The verse has also been translated as "It is consummated."On business documents or receipts it has been used to denote "The debt is paid in full".
The utterance after consuming the beverage and immediately before death is mentioned, but not explicitly quoted, in Mark 15:37 and Matthew 27:50 (both of which state that Jesus "cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost”). He did what He was assigned to do. He suffered and was moments away from death. The penalty was now paid for the sin of all humanity—-don’t anyone tell you anything different! He paid mightily and completely for all my meanness, selfishness, stubborness—and yours as well. This was not a down-payment or installment—-it was paid in full.
7. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit…
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” — Luke 23:46
From Psalm 31:5, this saying, which is an announcement and not a request, is traditionally called "The Word of Reunion" and is theologically interpreted as the proclamation of Jesus joining God the Father in Heaven. These same final words martyrs and Christians throughout the ages have announced right before they died…”Martin Luther, was one—and so should you and I. We trust Him and believe that we will be united with Him forever!
What will be the last thing or seven things you say? What will be people take away from your or mine death bed or recall as the last thing they heard us pronounce? No one could say things as weighty as Jesus did on that cross, but the last things that flow from your mouth and heart will find the source based upon how you are living now and your intimacy with the Father.
Are your words today, words of forgiveness and kindness? Today are your sentences encouraging? Are you, right now, concerned for your mother, father, spouse and children? Are you ready to commit your spirit to Him at any moment? If these things are true, your last words might more profoundly affect a life than your entire time on this earth.
We will harvest what we sow…