“And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.” – Mark 15:37 (ESV)
“It was most fitting that every word of our Lord upon the cross should be gathered up and preserved. As not a bone of him shall be broken, so not a word shall be lost. The Holy Spirit took special care that each of the sacred utterances should be fittingly recorded. There were, as you know, seven of those last words, and seven is the number of perfection and fulness; the number which blends the three of the infinite God with the four of complete creation. Our Lord in his death-cries, as in all else, was perfection itself. There is a fulness of meaning in each utterance which no man shall be able fully to bring forth, and when combined they make up a vast deep of thought, which no human line can fathom.” – C. H. Spurgeon
On this Good Friday let us meditate upon the seven last words of Jesus from the cross:
1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
2. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
3. “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:26).
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34).
5. “I thirst” (John 19:28).
6. “It is finished” (John 19:30).
7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).
These seven last words are like seven diamonds on a necklace, each perfect in color, clarity and cut, but varying in caret. They hang in three groups, three sayings each in the first and last group and one saying of greatest weight hanging prominently in the middle.
In the first group of three, Jesus expressed his concern for those surrounding the cross. To the Jewish leaders who had condemned Him and the Roman soldiers who were crucifying Him, He said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” To the thief hanging on the cross next to Him, He said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” And to His mother He said, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple John, “Behold, your mother!”
In the last group of three, He expressed His determination to accomplish His purpose, saying: “I thirst,” and “It is finished,” and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
In the middle, He cried out in despair as He experienced the weight of sin fall on Him and separation from His Father, so that He called on Him as God, saying: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Notice that Jesus’ last statement from the cross before He died was similar to His first. Like bookends to His seven last words, these two are prayers and in both, He addressed them to His Father, saying: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
This last saying is like a child’s prayer, a cry for reunion. The Son is ready to go home to His Father. “Father, I’m ready to come home!” He cried. “Come and get Me, Abba!”
In 2017, we preached a seven week sermon series entitled, “SEVEN WORDS: A Study of Christ’s Seven Last Words.” If you’d like to watch those seven sermons, you can click on the link above. In preparation for our series, we worked to verify the last sayings of Christ, discover which gospels reported them, and place them in the best chronological order. Here is a link to a PDF of the chart that we made: “A STUDY OF THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS FROM THE CROSS.” You really should take a look at this chart because it will help orient you to the way the four gospels together give us a fuller picture of Christ’s last words from the cross.
Earlier today, we offered a Good Friday devotion on the seven last words. If you’d like to watch it, follow this link: “Passion Week Devotions with Pastor Gary.”
The great British expositor, C. H. Spurgeon has said on this subject, “There is a fulness of meaning in each utterance which no man shall be able fully to bring forth, and when combined they make up a vast deep of thought, which no human line can fathom.”
Yet, we would invite you to join us this day, as we endeavor to try and fathom them, diving deep into these seven last words of Jesus to meditate on their meaning.