The Powerful Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross (2024)

What Are the Last Words of Jesus?

When we talk about the seven last words of Jesus from the cross, we are referring to the seven last sayings recorded across the Gospels that Jesus said before finally dying on the cross. The phrases are traditionally ordered in the following way:

1. Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

2. Luke 23:43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

3. Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

4. John 19:26-27, “Woman, here is your son… Here is your mother.”

5. John 19:28, “I am thirsty."

6. John 19:30, “It is finished.”

7. Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

These words have powerful meaning and significance because they were the last words of Jesus that each Gospel writer decided to share. Each Gospel is written for a different audience and works to stress different parts of the story of Jesus. This explains why different phrases are recorded from each writer’s last encounter with Jesus on the cross. Let’s explore the meaning of these powerful words from the cross.

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The Events of Jesus' Last Words

Jesus was tortured, ridiculed, and betrayed by the Jews. He took up his cross and was finally killed on the cross (a criminal’s death). Jesus hung, stripped of his garments, on the cross between two criminals. He suffered publicly after the Jewish people betrayed him and insisted that he be killed despite not committing any crime. The Gospels record these last phrases during the six hours Jesus was hanging on the cross. The words hold meaning because they are the last words of Jesus before he died, and they show us that Jesus was consistent in his message and mission up until his very last breath. Each of these seven recorded phrases speaks different truths to us as believers. They also confirm who Jesus was and how his life and death fulfilled the Scriptures.

"Father, forgive them" (First Word: Forgiveness)

When Jesus cries out in prayer to the Father God and asks him to “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), he is looking past the atrocity that these men are committing against him and seeing them as people. Jesus, who came to Earth and continues to exist in Heaven, is fully man and fully God. He fully understands the shortsightedness of the human condition. He can empathize with being sucked into evil, and he was able to see past that one act and address them as valued human beings.

Jesus can see, and we are judged by our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10), not just our actions. For example, Jesus sees more than Peter’s impulsive nature and charges Peter to “feed his sheep” (John 21). This site allows Jesus to see past the sin and can see our need for healing and forgiveness.

"Today you will be with me in paradise" (Second Word: Salvation)

The second saying of Jesus on the cross, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise," is found in the Gospel of Luke, specifically in Luke 23:43. This saying is addressed to one of the criminals crucified alongside Jesus.

In this statement, Jesus expresses assurance and comfort to the repentant criminal. Despite the crucifixion's agony, Jesus offers this man hope and forgiveness. By saying, "Truly I tell you," Jesus emphasizes the certainty and truthfulness of his words. He assures the criminal that "today," meaning immediately after their deaths, they will both enter Paradise together.

"Paradise" refers to the dwelling place of the righteous in the afterlife, often understood in Christian theology as a state of bliss, communion with God, and eternal happiness. Jesus' promise to the repentant criminal demonstrates his mercy, grace, and willingness to forgive even the most undeserving. It underscores the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and highlights the transformative power of repentance and belief, even in the final moments of life.

"My God, Why have you forsaken me?" (Third Word: Abandonment)

Jesus uttered these words during his last hours: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” They surely were heartbreaking to hear, but the disciples would have recognized them as a quote from Psalm 22, which begins with these same words. This moment is thought to be when Jesus completes a strange miracle on our behalf. He is crying out because he is experiencing separation from his Father for the first time. This is the only time we have a record of Jesus not addressing God as his Father.

Jesus had taken the sin upon himself, and at the moment, the Father could not be with him. This moment is filled with mystery as it is hard to fully understand how God’s perfect son, Jesus, was separated from God for some time on the cross so he could accept God’s wrath for humanity’s sin.Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor.” God had to be separate from Jesus because He could not look upon sin, especially when it was being cast upon his very own Son. Jesus cries out in grief during this excruciating time.

Greg Laurie provides a deeper look at this dark moment:

I would like for us to consider what I believe was God's most painful moment, the most painful moment for our Lord when He was on this earth. Immediately our minds race to the crucifixion. We think of the Roman whip, that cat of nine tails that ripped into His skin and skeletal tissues, exposing vital organs. Was that it? That was a painful moment to say the least - extremely painful. It is one of the most horrific things that a person could go through. But as bad as that was, I don't think it was God's most painful moment. Was the crucifixion itself, where spikes were pounded into His hands and His feet, where He had to press His shredded back against the cross for a gulp of air? That was horrific as well. But as bad as that was, I don't think that was His most painful moment.

I believe it is found in Matthew 27: “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (verses 45-46).

These words surprise us. They disarm us and cause us to wonder what He meant. It is hard for us as human beings to even fathom what was taking place here. To begin with, it was a fulfillment of the prophetic words of Psalm 22:1, which says, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But these were not the delusions of a man in pain. His faith was not failing Him. I believe that as Christ hung there at this moment, He was bearing the sins of the world. He was dying as a substitute for us. To Him was imputed the guilt of all of our sins and He was suffering the necessary punishment for those sins on our behalf. And the essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God's wrath against sinners.

In some mysterious way that we can never fully understand, during these awful hours on the cross, the Father was pouring out the full measure of His wrath against sin and the recipient of that wrath was His own beloved Son. God was punishing Jesus as though He had personally committed every wicked deed committed by every wicked sinner. And in doing so, He could treat and forgive those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ's perfect life of righteousness.

Taken from "God's Most Painful Moment" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

"Woman here is your son," and "Here is your mother" (Fourth Word: Care)

The fourth saying of Jesus on the cross is recorded in the Gospel of John, specifically in John 19:26-27:

"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.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."

This saying is significant for several reasons:

Piety: In this moment, Jesus, despite enduring immense suffering himself, demonstrates his concern for the well-being of his mother, Mary. By entrusting her care to the beloved disciple (often interpreted as John), Jesus fulfills his duty as a devoted son, ensuring that Mary will be looked after in his absence.

Symbolic Meaning: Beyond the literal act of ensuring Mary's physical care, this saying holds symbolic significance. Mary is often seen as a representative figure of the Church or believers in Christ. By entrusting Mary to the care of the beloved disciple, Jesus symbolically establishes a familial bond between his followers, emphasizing the importance of community and care for one another within the body of believers.

The Humanity of Jesus: This saying highlights the humanity of Jesus, showing his compassion, empathy, and concern for others, even amid his own suffering. It exemplifies Jesus' teachings of love and selflessness, urging believers to emulate his example in caring for one another.

"I thirst" (Fifth Word: Humanity)

Jesus had a body. That may seem like an overly obvious observation, but sometimes it can be easy to forget that Jesus experienced real, unimaginable physical suffering. His deity did not negate his humanity. He fully experienced pain, hunger, and thirst. He expressed pain in his last words on the cross; he felt thirst. While it is heartbreaking to contemplate what Jesus would have felt during his last day on earth, it can be comforting to remember that God empathizes with our physical suffering. He has not forgotten what it was like to feel his body’s limitations, exhaustion, pain, hunger, need, and thirst. He knows we have physical needs.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus reminds us not to worry, but one thing I love about this passage is that he doesn't say don’t worry because your cares don’t matter. Instead, Jesus says don’t worry because your God already knows you need these things! He knows you have physical needs and is at work helping to meet them. Jesus felt physical suffering and, therefore, can fully empathize with the physical struggles we face as human beings.

"It Is Finished' (Sixth Word: Accomplishment)

These are the final words and sayings from Jesus on the Cross. The word Jesus uses here is “Tetelestai,” which means “it is finished” or “completed.” This word was also written on business receipts in the New Testament to show that a bill has been paid in full. Jesus is indicating that his work, his fulfillment of the scripture, and his life are the ultimate payment for our sins. He has completed his work on earth and has fully offered himself at the ultimate sacrifice in our place for our sins.

Hebrews 9:12, 26 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption…But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” These words explain how Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, so now the Jewish practice of sacrificing goats and calves was no longer necessary.

"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Seventh Word: Surrender)

Seven Last Words by James Martin, Sr, explains that Jesus desired to do his Father’s will. Throughout his life and ministry, he worked to carry out the will of the Father. When Jesus is praying so fervently in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks the Father to take this cup of suffering from him but then adds not my will but yours be done (Matthew 26:36-56). He was obedient to the will of God and accepted the suffering of the cross because he knew this was the Father’s will for him.

When Jesus then is hanging on the cross in his final moments of life on Earth, he utters his last words of surrender to his Father. In Luke 23:46, Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus entirely surrenders his body and soul to his Father. This is what we are called to do as Christians: give ourselves to God.

These last phrases give insight into Jesus’ heart, mission, experience, and love for us. Each phrase teaches us about his ability to empathize with our humanity. They demonstrate his unwavering commitment to his Father’s will and his complete fulfillment of the prophecies found in the scriptures. As you prepare your heart to celebrate this Easter, meditate on these seven phrases and let their messages deepen your love for the amazing God you serve.

Further Reading

The Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross Explained

What Were the Last Words of Jesus and Why Are They So Powerful?

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/mbolina

The Powerful Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross (1)Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

This article is part of our larger Holy Week and Easter resource library centered around the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!

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Easter Prayers

The Powerful Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross (2024)

FAQs

The Powerful Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross? ›

To God: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” To the “good thief”: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” To Mary, his mother: “Woman, behold your son”... and to John: “Behold your mother.” To God, his Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

What is the significance of the 7 last words of Jesus? ›

Traditionally, these seven words (which are more like “sayings” that contain more than a single word) are known as words of Forgiveness, Salvation, Relationship, Abandonment, Distress, Triumph and Reunion. Throughout the #Pray40 Lent Challenge in 2022, Hallow users spent time reflecting on all seven.

What was the last word God said on the cross? ›

The very last words Jesus spoke were either, “It is finished” or “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” It's likely these words were said at the same time, one right after the other. The tone of voice isn't given in Scripture, but I imagine these words were said with great joy.

Who wrote the seven last words of Christ died on the cross? ›

The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross (German: Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze) is an orchestral work by Joseph Haydn, commissioned in 1786 for the Good Friday service at Oratorio de la Santa Cueva (Holy Cave Oratory) in Cádiz, Spain.

What is the true meaning of Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani? ›

Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

What is the Bible verse for Jesus last 7 words? ›

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). “You will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). “Woman, behold your son!” (John 19:26-27). “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).

What are the 7 words of Jesus on the cross reference? ›

Jesus' 7 Last Sayings in Scripture
  • “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” — Luke 23:34.
  • “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” — Luke 23:43.
  • “Woman, behold thy Son.” — ...
  • “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” — ...
  • “I thirst.” — ...
  • “It is finished.” — ...
  • “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” —

What is the significance of the number 7? ›

Seven was symbolic in ancient near eastern and Israelite culture and literature. It communicated a sense of “fullness” or “completeness” (שבע “seven” is spelled with the same consonants as the word שבע “complete/full”). This makes sense of the pervasive appearance of “seven” patterns in the Bible.

What are the seven things Jesus said before he died? ›

Overview
Sayings of Jesus on the crossLukeJohn
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.23:34
Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.23:43
Woman, behold thy son! and Behold thy mother!19:26–27
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
3 more rows

What is the reflection on the 7th word on the cross? ›

"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" is the final of the seven last words spoken by Jesus Christ on the cross. In this statement, Jesus is expressing his complete trust and surrender to God, as he prepares to die.

What are the liturgy seven last words of Jesus? ›

The Seven Last Words

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” “Woman, this is your son” . . . “This is your mother.” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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