What are the last seven sayings of Christ and what do they mean?
The Gospel writers recorded seven specific sayings by Jesus during His time on the cross. They include:
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1. "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?": Matthew 27:46 includes this Aramaic expression that means, "My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" Jesus declared His difficult emotions in these words, asking why God the Father would turn away from Him during His most difficult human struggle. In addition, this statement was a fulfillment of the prophecy spoken by the psalmist in Psalm 22:1.
2. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do": Luke 23:34 offers a different glimpse into Jesus' time on the cross by revealing His heart for His enemies. He understood and communicated that His opponents did not realize their role of putting the Son of God to death. Even in His greatest torment, Jesus cared deeply for His most adamant opposition.
3. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise": Luke 23:43 shares Christ's response to the criminal on the cross who believed in Him. Despite the fact that the man had lived a sinful life and had no time to live differently, His faith in Jesus was enough to hear Jesus grant Him salvation. This declaration also provides insight regarding where Jesus spent the time between His earthly death and resurrection three days later.
4. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit": Luke 23:46 notes the point at which Jesus realized His body was about to die. His Spirit would return to the Father (to Paradise, as in Luke 23:43).
5. "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!": John 19:26-27 provides an explanation for what would happen to Mary, the mother of Jesus. John, the one disciple mentioned at the cross, was commanded to care for Mary as if she was his own mother. Even in His torment, Jesus showed great concern for His family.
6. "I thirst.": John 19:28 gave a reason for the Roman guards to bring Jesus vinegar mixed with wine, fulfilling Psalm 69:21 that reads, "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink."
7. "It is finished": John 19:30 provides the final words Jesus spoke before His death on the cross. He declared His work and purpose had been completed. The payment for the sins of humanity had been fully paid through His sacrifice.
We are not told everything that may have taken place or was said at the cross. However, in these seven sayings we find a view of Jesus as emotionally struggling with pain before His death, yet focused on the spiritual and physical needs of others, while committed to completing God's purpose for His life.
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