The Last Seven Expressions of Jesus Christ on the Cross
Here are the most sacred phrases spoken by Our Lord and Savior as He died for the forgiveness of our sins
As Christians around the world prepare their hearts and minds for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday, let’s solemnly reflect on Jesus’ final words on the cross.
After authorities arrested Jesus and nailed Him to the cross, His final seven phrases direct our eyes toward heaven.
1.) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). After being nailed to the cross, Jesus called out, asking God to forgive those who had crucified Him. As scripture prophesied in Isaiah 53:12, “He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
2.) “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus was crucified with two others on Good Friday. One of the criminals on the cross mocked and insulted Jesus, while the other criminal said that Jesus had done nothing wrong.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” the man said — and Jesus promised him eternity in heaven.
3.) “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and, to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother'” (John 19:26-27). Jesus established a new relationship between His earthly mother and the disciple John — and gave all of mankind His mother as our own. “From that time on, this disciple took her into his home,” scripture says.
Jesus took care to ensure that His mother would be supported.
4.) “About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? (‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)” (Matthew 27:46). Mirrored in the Old Testament, Psalms 22:1 says: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
The scripture in Matthew continues in verses 47-49: “When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’ Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Lets see if Elijah comes to save him.'”
Malachi 4:5 prophesied: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord.” The Jewish people who did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah still await the coming of a messiah. The crowd may have misheard or mocked Jesus by believing that Elijah — a prophet taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, according to Old Testament scripture — would come to save Jesus on the cross.
5.) “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty'” (John 19:28). A sponge soaked in wine vinegar was lifted to Jesus’ lips for him to drink. In Jewish tradition, a Passover meal includes four glasses of wine or grape juice.
Some faiths, such as in Catholicism, believe this last drink on the cross fulfills the fourth cup and finishes the Passover Jesus celebrated with His disciples at The Last Supper.
6.) “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished'” (John 19:30). Jesus “bowed his head and gave up his spirit,” as He fulfilled His work and purpose on earth. God’s mission was accomplished. Jesus suffered for the sins of all humanity and covered up our transgressions with His blood. Through this sacrifice, God offers a new life to those who believe and repent.
7.) “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46). Jesus’ final words echo the Psalms. “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God,” Psalms 31:5 says. Luke tells us that “the sun stopped shining” and “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”
The curtain in the holy Tabernacle at Jerusalem had previously walled off the Holy of Holies inner sanctuary, where God dwelt. Only the high priest could enter this most holy place, once a year, “and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance,” Hebrews 9:7 says. Jesus replaced the need for this sacrifice.
Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and gave up everything. On this Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, we can remember Our Savior’s last words and ponder His final thoughts as Easter Sunday quickly approaches.
This article originally appeared in LifeZette last year and has been updated.