7 Things Jesus Said on the Cross

Talking during a crucifixion would be hard… Jesus really wanted to send a message with the 7 things he said as he was being killed.

7 Things Jesus Said on the Cross

1) “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NCV)

Jesus’ first statement from the cross gives us a few lessons. First is his nature of unconditional love and forgiveness. The natural response to being wrongfully abused would be retribution, but Jesus chose to love and forgive. What a pattern. No one has wronged us this bad, the least we can do is forgive our wrongers. Second is his desire to turn to the Father in prayer. As this trial of the cross was beginning, so was Jesus’ need to put things in his Father’s hands. Third is the example of God actually answering this prayer in Acts:

“Brothers and sisters, I know you did those things to Jesus because neither you nor your leaders understood what you were doing. God said through the prophets that his Christ would suffer and die. And now God has made these things come true in this way. So you must change your hearts and lives! Come back to God, and he will forgive your sins. Then the Lord will send the time of rest.”
(Acts 3:17-19 NCV)

The older leaders grabbed Peter and John and put them in jail. Since it was already night, they kept them in jail until the next day. But many of those who had heard Peter and John preach believed the things they said. There were now about five thousand in the group of believers.
(Acts 4:3-4 NCV)

Notice that Peter recounts Jesus’ assertion that they did not know what they were doing and calls them to repentance. As a result about 5,000 people respond and are forgiven of their sins by the very blood they spilled. Amazing grace!!

2) “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NCV)

Jesus’ immediate justification of the thief next to him because of his faith is a great example of God’s mercy and our inefficiency to save ourselves in any way through acts of obedience. The thief exhibited repentance by his defence of Jesus against the mockings of the other thief. But the thief had no way of atonement in any way because of his circumstance. We, like the thief, are guilty and unable to atone to God. The question is if we are repentant like this thief or reviling Jesus’ gift like the other.

3) “Dear woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26 NCV)

As Jesus is looking upon his mother and the disciple he loved, he is moved by the need to care for her. This statement is an act of benevolence to make sure his mother is cared for in her old age. Again, Jesus is suffering but still thinking of the well-being of others instead.

4) “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46 NCV)

This is not a moment of weakness for Jesus; it is not his fist-shaking-at-the-sky moment. It is a lament and a commentary on his separation from God. It is also an indicator that his thoughts on the cross were previously recorded in Psalms 22 (which starts with this same statement). The Jews there at the cross would recognize the reference. Jesus was also becoming sin for our sake (2 Corinthians 5:21) and the prophet Habakkuk pronounces:

Your eyes are too good to look at evil;
you cannot stand to see those who do wrong.
(Habakkuk 1:13a NCV)

Perhaps this is the reason the sky became dark in the verse right before this. Perhaps this is why Jesus doesn’t address God as “My Father” as he so often does, even from the cross. It gives weight to the arguments that for the first time in the history of eternity, Jesus and the Father God were separated leading to potentially the most painful part of Jesus’ crucifixion.

5) “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28 NCV)

A simple enough statement. Is it simply Jesus declaring his pain and suffering? We don’t hear him complaining of the pain of the crown of the thorns, or the scourging, or the nail piercings. Yet he declares his thirst. First off, the reaction of this fulfills the Messianic Psalm 69:

They put poison in my food
and gave me vinegar to drink.
(Psalms 69:21 NCV)

Secondly, it builds an awesome parallelism. He told the woman at the well, he provides living water… the Spirit. As his own Spirit is weakening and being ready to leave his body, the lack of water and the resulting thirst is exemplified. Of course, three days later that Spirit returns to life in a flood of living water from a body which had thirsted.

6) “Father, I give you my life.” (Luke 23:46 NCV)

The King James renders this quite beautifully, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” As Jesus prepares for his last breaths, he again acknowledges God’s fatherhood and his sovereignty. He places it all into his Father’s hands. The New Century Version chose to simply say, I give you my life, which is literally what Jesus was saying about commending his spirit (or his life-force). This is a reminder that we should always give our life, our spirit over to our Father. Not only in death, but in life. Put control back into His hands.

7) “It is finished.” (John 19:30 KJV)

According to A.W. Pink, “The ancient Greeks boasted of being able to say much in little – to give a sea of matter in a drop of language was regarded as the perfection of oratory.” If there was ever a case for this, it is in Jesus’ last word. In the Greek:

τετέλεσται (tetelestai)

One word that does mean “it is finished”, but it means a lot more. It is not Jesus’ groan of relief that his ordeal is finished. It is a declaration that his mission has been completed. The term also means, “paid in full” and was often stamped upon legal documents when a debt was paid. Greek is a very detailed language. So this verb is 3rd person, perfect tense, indicative mood, and middle voice. Whew! Yes that is Greek to me too. So what does that mean? It means:

  • 3rd Person: He’s talking not about himself or you, but a 3rd party. In this case… the mission to pay for our sin (it).
  • Perfect Tense: Completed with demonstratable results
  • Indicative Mood: It happened in the past but has present results
  • Middle Voice: The results happen to the subject… the “it” is completed

So in other words, Jesus’ last word was: Your sin and my mission have been completely paid for by this action, once and for all, with results that will continue to echo into all eternity. A drop of language containing a sea of matter.

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