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Some thoughts about Jesus’ seven words from the cross

February 25, 2018

  be2bdfba1df4ab3941c1e5a7aa150514--easter-symbols-jesus-last-wordsAs Easter approaches I thought it would be interesting to conduct a brief study of Jesus’ seven words from the cross. This term itself is a bit of a misnomer because we are really talking about His seven statements from the cross not just seven words. I also find it interesting that “words” is pluralized because Jesus was (is) God’s Word in the singular form. This was part of God’s Word, but that is just a side note I find interesting. 

  What strikes me most about these words from the cross is how Jesus was still thinking about others while He was suffering–with “I thirst” being the only exception. But this shows us Jesus was fully human and was suffering as a human would, and He did it willingly! “No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” John 10:18.

  The first words from Jesus on the cross are recorded in Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

  To me this is a remarkable statement in light of the situation! Jesus has just been beaten, tortured, and mocked in an illegal trial and then nailed to the cross. This was the beginning of the end or, as I like to call it, the end of the beginning, and the first thing he does is ask the Father to forgive the men who were doing this to Him. If Jesus can ask for forgiveness for His murderers it shows us that we can ask God for forgiveness no matter what we have done–and Paul is a great example of this. (Of course these men could not be forgiven unless they repented and asked for forgiveness themselves, that is the difference.) We have no knowledge of repentance from any of these individuals except possibly the Centurion who said “truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54)

  But this is a reminder of Matthew 6:15 and Mark 11:26 where we are taught to forgive others for their sins or God will not forgive us of our sins. Jesus lived these words until the end and He set the example for all of us to follow.

  The second words from the cross also come from Luke, this time from 23:43: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  Again a remarkable example of repentance and forgiveness while Jesus was at his weakest. Jesus was again being  mocked, this time by a thief crucified at his side. While he was being mocked by one thief the other came to His defense and asked to be remembered in His kingdom. This request was accepted by Jesus and this is another reminder of Matthew 6:15 and Mark 11:26.

  This differs from the first words from the cross in that the thief asked Jesus for forgiveness, whereas Jesus was asking for forgiveness for others in the first words. This thief was forgiven because he repented and asked to be remembered in Heaven.

  The third words from the cross: “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother” come to us in John 19:26-27.

  Here Jesus is concerned with the well-being of his earthly family, putting them above Himself. For all that Jesus was going through His mother Mary must have been equally tortured on another, emotional, or earthly, level. She was watching her son being brutally murdered and while she understood Jesus was sent through her by God it is not unlikely she did not understand why He had to suffer through this torture and be crucified.

  I am reminded of Luke 2:49 when Jesus said to His earthly parents, “didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house?” This shows us that even with the vision from God Mary still did not fully understand at this point what it meant. Even the apostles did not understand what they were witnessing because Jesus told them three times he would be killed and resurrected on the third and they still did not get it. “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7)

  In ancient times widows were often neglected and with Jesus leaving her He made sure she would be taken care of for the rest of her life after her sacrifice. 

  With Jesus’ fourth and fifth words from the cross He for the first time thinks about Himself. His fourth words “my God, my God why have you forsaken me” come to us from Matthew 27:45–46 and they could make one think Jesus was questioning God. If this were true it could make one believe Jesus was not divine. For those reasons I think these words are the most interesting of the seven to debate. It is easy for a non-believer to question the divinity of Jesus based on these words because if Jesus was questioning God He could not be God.

  I think at this point it would be interesting to remember Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. At this point his arrest was immanent, he knew it was coming, and he knew he was going to be tortured and then executed by the most painful of executions known to man at the time and he prayed to the Father to take this cup from Him.

  Jesus, as human, did not want to suffer this pain but He ended the prayer in the garden, according to Luke 22:42, with “my Father, if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” Jesus accepted the will of the Father and took on the pain of real death. When Jesus was at the height of his suffering on the cross his fourth words were a fulfillment of scripture (Psalm 22) because he WAS the scripture–the Word of God,  He was not questioning God, he was proving (fulfilling) God’s Word.

  This brings me back to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth when He read the scroll from Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19 and then said in Luke 4:21 “this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Think of the audacity it would take for a man who was not divine to say those words at that place and time! Jesus began his earthly ministry by quoting scripture and as His earthly ministry was coming to an end He did the same.

 His fifth words were “I thirst” according to John 19:28. I find this to be poignant point because, much like the fourth words, this shows us Jesus was truly suffering. That seems self evident on the surface but I think people may sometimes gloss over this point. I think that sometimes people think Jesus was not truly suffering because he was God but it must be remembered that Jesus was fully human and he was not immune to the pain–He was not simply “going through the motions.” Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, and was buried.” I think this is a point we must all remember. Jesus’ pain was real.

  “O death where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) At this point on the cross Jesus was feeling the sting of death.

  Then comes his sixth words as recorded in John 19:30 and they are simply “it is finished.” Jesus’ suffering as a human was finished and he would soon be glorified but God’s plan is not finished. In fact in the larger picture it was just beginning with the New Covenant.

  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” These are the seventh, and last, words spoken by Jesus on the cross. All I can add to this is that we all must turn ourselves over to God, and if because of this “the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)

  For all that Jesus taught us when He lived He may have taught us just as much, if not more, on how to live when he was dying.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. dbnokidden permalink
    February 25, 2018 10:39 pm

    I really enjoyed your comments and video.It brought it to life for me.Thank you and may God Bless You Always.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lauri permalink
    February 25, 2018 10:52 pm

    Well done!! I hope this article reaches people who need to hear The Good News!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. February 26, 2018 1:56 am

    How much do we really known and understand. Here is a possible alternative explanation of one of the more controversial statements – Eloi Eloi Lema Sabachthani. Jesus spoke Aramaic not Hebrew, or Greek. And like many languages there are regional differences.

    “This now brings us to the word Eli. In the Southern dialect this would mean my God. However, in the Northern dialect, which is more colloquial, the word el would be used for more than just the word god, it was sometimes used in a descriptive sense. A god is someone or something that has control over you. People are, for instance, controlled by their hearts desires. Thus Jesus could have been saying, “my heart.” In the Semitic languages when a word is repeated twice it is done to show emphasis. Hence in the Old Galilean when Jesus said Eli Eli he could have been saying “listen to my heart.” The word lama (Hebrew) or lema (Aramaic) generally is used as an interrogative, but this is not necessarily set in stone. To use lema as a question, why am I forsaken or why have I been kept suggest that Jesus did not understand what was happening to Him. That is not my Jesus, He is God, and He is all knowing. In that context we could properly and linguistically render this not as a question but as a declaration, this is why. In the Old Galilean lema Sabachthani means, this is why I have been kept or this is my destiny. In fact scholars have discovered this phrase still in use in that tribe that still uses the Old Galilean. They use it in the context of this is my destiny. In other words Jesus was not speaking to God but to the people who were mourning his death, those who could understand his dialect and in His last breath what He could have been saying is, “Listen to my heart, this is my destiny.” Jesus was telling those who were in sorrow over his death, “Listen to my heart, this is why I came to earth in the first place, this is my purpose, to die for you.”איל-איל-למנא-שׁבקתני/

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 26, 2018 6:31 am

      Wow, thanks for all of that information. It was very interesting!


      • February 26, 2018 6:40 am

        This translation does put in a different light than I always took it to mean.


      • February 26, 2018 9:29 pm

        If you read into part 2 of this man’s writing (CJ’s sharing; the link I left), it reminds me a little of ‘your thinking’ in your treatise, when he’s speaking of the Trinity of God and as he ‘considers these things.
        This regarding ‘forsaken’:
        Ps 71:11 Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.
        The writer earlier had mentioned:
        “However the Jewish Targum (Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible) does use the Aramaic word sbq in Psalms 22:1, which is probably why the scribes added the footnote which being interpreted means…. This is in accordance with the Eastern Church which teaches that the scribes who wrote this out in Greek really did not understand what the phrase really meant, so they merely transliterated it into the Greek rather than translate it and then put in a short commentary or their own opinion and indicated this by the words that is to say… In other words they were not sure they had correctly quoted Jesus so they assumed he was speaking Psalms 22:1 and put in a little commentary to offer their opinion as to what he really said.”
        Ps 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
        “Indeed Jesus could have been misquoted from scribes or witnesses at the crucifixion if they were from Judea, … My belief that all Scripture is the inspired Word of God makes me a little uncomfortable suggesting that the Bible misquoted Jesus.”
        Interesting, stream of thought and consideration.
        Brings to minds:
        1 Cor 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 27, 2018 6:40 am

        Thanks, it is an interesting stream of thought and I am going to have to go through it more thoroughly tonight when I have more time.


      • February 26, 2018 9:04 pm

        That was interesting, thanks for sharing it! I still need to read part 2 of the article. Sometimes it feels like when I am making progress I end up with more questions, which leads to more study. (Not questions of doubt but questions of understanding and learning.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 26, 2018 9:35 pm

        haha funny 😀🤣 I know what you mean.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. February 27, 2018 3:27 pm

    Great post and comments… thanks..

    Liked by 2 people

  5. March 1, 2018 1:01 am

    The main theme you point out, is how the Lord was “thinking of the GOOD for others” rather than himself. Being pleasing unto his Father and fulfilling HIs mission.
    Also stating, “He is the Word”, the Divine Expression (that is Christ). The “personification” of the Word being lived out in the manifested of the flesh. God incarnate.
    I like how you express your ‘wonder and awe’ of “God’s pure Love” being so different from that of natural man, especially since they scourged and treated him so ruthlessly. [Fulfilling: Is 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.]
    The thief ‘acknowledged’ who Jesus was, he “believed him to be who he said he was” and that ‘belief’ was credited to his account (just as Abraham) ‘believed God’.
    [Notice too, the thief was saved without ‘water baptism’. He received the ‘baptism of the Sprit’ by his confession of faith (believing Jesus was the Son of God) unaware that Jesus was dying for his sins, and everyone right there on the cross.
    1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    God’s Divine Nature on display for sinful man to see. The fallen nature of man is hard press to forgive, Jesus showed and display of God’s Attribute of “forgiveness” right in front of them all.
    The stoning of Stephen also reflects God’s forgives in action: Being full of the Holy Sprit, Stephen “cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
    A thought comes to mind regarding our spirits: Where Jesus cried to the Father, Stephen asks the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit: “Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Acts 7:59 Since He sits as the right hand of God the Father.
    John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
    John 5:27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
    The verse right before that Acts 7:58, sets the scene of Stephen exiting the stage, and the entrance of Saul. “…and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” As if the gauntlet was laid at his feet, as “chosen” to further carry on [run the race] to spread and share the New Testament “Gospel of Grace.” Which required receiving the “Holy Spirit” -the power of God- vs relying on the flesh or human ability.
    Thanks Steve, interesting to break it down and consider His parting words. Enlightening!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 1, 2018 6:49 am

      Thanks Zip! I only had a chance to breeze through this before work, I will read it more thoroughly tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

    • March 2, 2018 8:21 pm

      Quite a bit to digest there! A little payback I suppose 😉
      I like your thought on the thief being baptized with the Spirit but not through water. This brings us back to John the Baptist when he says after me comes one who will baptize with the spirit. The thief received the baptism of the spirit with one of Jesus’ last acts on earth. How powerful is this message?!
      I also like how you compared Stephen crying out to God with Jesus crying out to God, that is an interesting connection I did not make before. The more you read the Bible the more of these types of connections we make and when something like this clicks I get this sense of understanding which is really hard to convey to somebody who doesn’t read the Bible! It is more of a sense of “WOW!” that blows me away!

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 2, 2018 11:55 pm

        haha, about ‘the payback’ 😊 I figured if I didn’t do something you’d call me a ‘slacker’!! 😁
        Those ‘thoughts’ came to me while reading what you wrote, so blame the Holy Spirit! for putting them in my mind to share! You’re right one thing begets another!
        Interesting to that you use the word “sense” because Jesus had that ‘sense’ and the Bible refers to it as the ability to “perceive.”
        Since Jesus had the ‘spirit’ of man (being human) he ‘perceived what others were thinking:
        Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
        If you do a search of the word ‘perceived’ you’ll see how its used.
        The ability to perceive in the ‘Spirit’ is different.
        1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
        And that’s why it difficult to convey it to those who are unread, or saved (quickened in their spirit by God’s Spirit).


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