THE SEVEN LAST SAYINGS OF JESUS 

The Seven Last Sayings of Jesus (sometimes called the Sayings of Jesus on the cross) are seven biblical expressions attributed to Jesus during his crucifixion. 

The seven sayings form part of a Christian meditation that is often used during Holy Week and Good Friday. The traditional order of the sayings is:
 

  1. Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Forgiveness)

  2. Luke 23:43: Truly I tell you, today you will be with be with me in paradise. (Salvation)

  3. John 19:26–27: Woman, here is your son son. (Says to disciple) Here is your mother. (Relationship)

  4. Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Abandonment)

  5. John 19:28: I am thirsty. (Distress)

  6. John 19:30: It is finished. (Triumph)

  7. Luke 23:46: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. (Reunion)
     

Below you can find seven reflections on the last sayings of Jesus. These were written by clergy and congregation members of St John's and Menston Methodist church, whom we thank. 
 

"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing..."

Luke 23: 34

This is what Jesus said immediately after the two criminals and He were nailed to the Cross and left, quite literally, to die. This was before the unrepentant thief started on at Jesus to save all three of them from death. European society has no idea about forgiveness. Think for a moment of the events of the last 40 years..

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise..."

Luke 23: 43

It’s a morbid thought, but imagine one day as you lie dying, what are the last words you might wish to hear.  I’d probably want to hear my family tell me they love me and are proud of me. I might want to hear a grown-up son crack some witty joke the way we always enjoyed, or perhaps hear about the latest news from a grandchild who loves me but doesn’t understand death really. 

"Woman, here is your son... Here is your mother"

John 19: 26-27

The response – person to person – throughout the country has been worthy of the best in humanity. I have been very moved by the number of people who have contacted me to offer help. Some I scarcely know at all – one lady had to introduce herself when we met by chance as I was putting out the bin. There is an outpouring of care in the face of the pandemic... 
 

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me...?"

Matthew 27: 46; Mark 15: 34 

I first started looking at these words from the cross when life was a little more ordinary. I went to work each day, met with family and friends, shopped when I wanted and went to Church on Sunday mornings. My evenings were filled with meetings, bible groups and preparing crafts for Zest. I sometimes wished I had a little more free time as life sometimes felt very busy...

"I am thirsty..."

John 19: 25b–29

In the book, ‘Seven words for the 21st Century’ (Ed. Newell 2002), Sabina Alkire writes about the phrase ‘I thirst’. She explains how the brothers and sisters of Mother Theresa share an insight into the words from the perspective of the poor. We could focus on Jesus’ pain and inevitable dehydration after being on the cross for such a long period of time. Do the words refer to Psalm 69 (‘I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched)? Perhaps the words indicate Jesus’ willingness to drink the cup he had prayed God might take away from his lips? 

"It is finished."

John 19:30

In John’s gospel, ‘It is finished’ are Jesus’ final words before he dies.  But what does he mean by this and what is now ‘finished’?  You would be forgiven for thinking that he is just referring to the terrible ordeal and torture he has just endured, but this is only a small part of the story. It helps to understand the underlying Greek word here – tetelestai – which comes from the verb teleo, meaning ‘to bring to an end, to complete, to accomplish’.  It’s the kind of thing you might say when you finish running the London Marathon or finally submit your dissertation or Good Friday reflection!  So in one sense Jesus is really saying ‘I have done what I set out to do’...

"Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit..."

Luke 23:46

After Jesus’ triumphal cry of “It is finished”, recorded by John, Luke captures this phrase as Jesus final farewell to the earth. For me, it seems to almost separate the physical from the spiritual, as he prepares to now go home to his heavenly Father. He understands that he has completed all that was asked of Him, the price paid, the atonement satisfied, He is now set free to return to His Father...
 

St John the Divine, Menston Parish Church,
Burley Lane, Ilkley LS29 6EU
Registered Charity Number 11236532

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