Seven Last Words of Jesus

Copyright © April 4, 2011, Tim Arensmeier


The First Words:
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
(Luke 23:34) – All quotations are from the King James Version of the bible.


Notice that from the cross, after the beatings, whippings, the humiliation and mocking; the trip up to Golgotha, where Jesus was expected to carry His own cross after already receiving the equivalent of one death sentence – the scourging with a Cat of Nine Tails, designed to rip flesh off a human body and sever ligaments in the spine which would render a normal man either dead or totally crippled for his short remaining life – Jesus carried His cross a good way, until he almost died on the road.  The Romans pressed a stranger into service to carry His cross for him.  He was subsequently nailed to the cross, and it was lifted up and dropped into a hole in the ground; all designed by the Romans to further the torture of the person being crucified.  From there, his first words were directed to His heavenly Father, asking that they be forgiven this as they didn’t have the faintest idea of what they were doing . . . they were fulfilling an agreed upon plan from before the foundations of the world that Jesus might die as the unique God/Man, paying once and for all the penalty of death each one of us should pay for our sin against the holy God of the universe.


Isaiah 53:1-12
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
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.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


The Second Words: 
Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

(Luke 23:43)


The First of Christ’s words on the cross were directed to His Father in heaven.  The Second of the Words were directed to one of the two thieves being crucified with him.  You will remember that initially both of the thieves spoke derisively of Him.  Is it possible that after they heard Him ask His Father to forgive the people for they didn’t know what they were doing, that one of the thieves actually believed?  At one point the other thief railed against Jesus, along with the priests, religious leaders and soldiers, and the thief to whom Jesus spoke, 40 …rebuked him saying ‘Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  42 And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

How precious, that our Lord while suffering the penalty of the sins of the world, could intercede for His tormentors, listen to the supplication of a convicted man and respond to him with a promise of a future life in heaven with Jesus.  Amazing! 



The Third Words:
Woman, behold thy son!
(John 19:26)


Remember, Jesus came to this world to fulfill all righteousness for us.  He said that not one jot or tittle would be removed or invalidated until all Righteousness was fulfilled.  Another way of saying that is that Christ would live out to the tiniest detail of The Law, everything, for us, so that we could eventually offer up His Righteousness to the Father as though it were our own. 


One of the details of The Law had to do with the responsibility of caring for one’s parents in their declining years.  Historians and theologians have concluded that Joseph was probably already deceased, or he would have cared for Mary.  As a widow, for whom God was always concerned, it fell to Jesus as the eldest of her children to care for her, and as He was dying for our sins, but had not yet accomplished all Righteousness, it was his responsibility under The Law, to care for her, hence his direction to John, to care for Mary, and to Mary to accept John in Christ’s place as the one to care for her to the end of her life.


So, you see, up to the end, He was more concerned about His Father’s glory, and obedience to The Law than for his own comfort . . .



The Fourth Words:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
(Mark 15:34)


Remember that the chapter numbers and verse designations weren’t inserted into the Bible until the 16th century – the chapter separations having been started in the 13th century.  Many have suggested that Christ was crying out to His Father as having been abandoned by Him.  However, why not rather consider that as Christ had spoken to His Father, requesting that His Father forgive the very people who were literally crucifying Him, and had comfortably promised the thief that he would be with Christ for throughout eternity, starting that day, and had just obeyed His Father by providing for His mother, could it not be that what He was doing from the cross, while struggling to not suffocate, was to point His followers to a passage from the Old Testament which was explaining what was happening at that moment?  They couldn’t have known what “Psalm 22” was about, as it . . . wasn’t invented yet.  But, what if Christ, by exclaiming that “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani,” may not have been pointing the attentive listener to the fact that as in the Psalm, after prophesying that they would gamble over his clothing, it is said,

19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.”

Looking at it that way, Christ may well have been just reminding His followers that it will all work out in the end.  After all, hadn’t He prophesied His death, burial and resurrection time and again?


The Fifth Words:
I thirst.
(John 19:28)


After pointing His followers to reflect on what had been prophesied concerning his excruciating death and resurrection by pointing them to what we now know was Psalm 22, and experiencing not only the agonizing dying process, perfected by the Romans, He was also carrying the sin of the world.  (II Corinthians 5:21)
21 For He [God the Father] hath made Him [God the Son] to be sin for us, He who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”


As the Son of God, and Son of Man, as He identified Himself, Jesus Christ was the unique God/Man, the only One to bridge the gap between a sovereign, holy God and fallen, sinful man.  This unique human being Who was simultaneously God . . . was fully human, as God meant man to be, yet without sin, until He accumulated our nature of sin unto Himself to pay the debt that we couldn’t properly pay.  As a man (while still God), He was experiencing dehydration.  They didn’t give victims drinks of water while beating the daylights out of them.  On the cross, bearing your sins and mine, He got thirsty, and expressed His humanity by croaking out a request for water.  When they offered Him the sponge on a stick, soaked with water, He took it.  Earlier, however, if you recall the details, He was offered moisture which He refused, as it was apparently poison to help the condemned to die more quickly, but He didn’t want to die of poison, but to shed His blood as prophesied.  The spear of the Roman soldier did the final duty.



The Sixth Words:
It is finished.
(John 19:30)


Not only is this a cry of it being over, as to His suffering the humiliation of the crucifixion; this is a proclamation of the entire plan of salvation, planned from before the foundations of the world’s creation, being completed.  The Gospel message has now been completed in the death of Jesus Christ, after His life of 33 years of perfect living out of The Law of God – on our behalf – but now, with this almost last breath of His, He is announcing that all of the reason He came to this earth, has been completed to the perfect satisfaction of His heavenly Father.



The Seventh Words:
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
(Luke 23:46)


Do you grasp what has happened here?  From His first utterance on the cross, to His last, it’s all about Him pointing us to His Father.


From His intercessory prayer for his tormentors and murderers that they be forgiven as they were merely carrying out the will of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, to His granting of everlasting life to the thief on the cross beside Him, who was never baptized, never spoke in tongues, never did a thing but believe in Christ; to His obeying His Father by caring for His mother in obedience to the demands of The Law; to His pointing His followers to the hope beyond the immediate devastation by reminding them of what we now know as Psalm 22, to His manifesting His humanity as the Son of Man; to His announcement of the completion of the plan of Salvation – to the final confident giving of Himself into His Father’s hands . . . it’s all about Jesus Christ pointing us to His heavenly Father.



Tim Arensmeier is the current pastor of the Sonoma Valley Community Church (Reformed Church in America), 181 Chase Street, Sonoma, California 95476, phone number 707-938-8100.  Tim and his wife Jan have been at this church since January 2001, and are anticipating their 52nd  wedding anniversary on May 30, 2015.  Tim & Jan have 4 daughters, 10 grandchildren and . . . 2 great grandsons and 2 great granddaughtaers..  We’re grateful to God about that.


Web posted:  April 9, 2012

Updated:  February 27, 2015

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