The 7 last words of Christ while he was hanging on the cross are considered of great importance to us today. As we live our life following in Christ’s footsteps he made sure to leave us with some words of encouragement before he gave up the ghost and died. In this lesson, Words from the Cross, his last seven words are broken down into a full interpretation.
Word 1: “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
1. The Jews, the Romans, and Pilate were responsible for the death of Christ. Explain the role of each of these people. The Jews were responsible because they were his people. He came unto his own and his own received him not. The Romans were the government during this time. They had the power and the jurisdiction to prosecute and convict. Pilate was the governor of Rome dwelling in Jerusalem who gave the death sentence.
2. Christ knew the need for man to be forgiven by God. Explain the need for God’s forgiveness. Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of Christ is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the beginning, God gave a direct command to Adam not to touch the tree of good and evil. When God gives a command and we refuse to obey, we sin. Anything that is contrary to God’s will is sin. The only way to have peace with God is to ask him for forgiveness. Genesis 3:15 is a prophecy regarding salvation in Christ. The way to forgiveness had begun in the Garden of Eden.
All who were involved in the crucifixion of Christ and all those who stood on that hill, needed to be forgiven.
3. “For they know not what they do” implies being ignorant. Why were these people ignorant? Ignorant is when one do not know. In the gospels, the leaders of the Jews studied the word, yet they remained ignorant of Christ. They had the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms, yet they misunderstood the coming of the Messiah and the spiritual need for salvation. The disciple Philip understood the prophecy of the Messiah. In the gospel of John 2, he went to get Nathanael with the message, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Instead of believing and accepting the words of Christ, the Jews mocked Christ on the cross, daring him to save himself.
Word 2: “Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”(Luke 23:43)
1. What is paradise? Give a scripture that describes paradise. Paradise is heaven. The malefactor beside Jesus on the cross requested to be remembered in paradise. Paul writes about the ascension of Christ into the high places in Ephesians 4:8-10.
Isaiah 65 gives a very good detail description of the heavenly paradise. The redeemed will be glad and will rejoice forever. We shall enjoy our houses and the work of our hands. We shall live in harmony with the wolf and the lion.
2. What is the meaning of this verse? How do we know that the malefactor did not go to heaven that exact day? These words were a promise from Christ. He did not go to heaven that exact day. But when the time comes for the righteous people to go to heaven, the malefactor will be present. Christ also did not go to heaven that day. To fulfill the will of his Father, he had to remain in the grave for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:40)
The malefactor believed that Christ was the son of God and received salvation at that time. The first step to eternal life is to believe. Because he believed, he will be in the first resurrection, as written in I Thessalonians 4:16.
There were two men who did go directly to heaven. We must always remember the sovereignty of God. He can do whatever pleases him. Enoch never tasted death. (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5,6). Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Lessons in the bible are given so that we may know the power of God.
3. When you consider this sinner man who believed Christ just before his death, what does this tell us about salvation? Salvation is for all people. We are not to judge who can be saved, when Christ gave his life for all. He alone will have all of our records to judge our end. We do not want to wait until the last minute. In consideration of the malefactor, God had the power to save. This scripture about the malefactor who believed just before his death, indicates the magnitude of God’s power. This man could not be baptized. He had no time to obey the commandments of love. He could not ask his victims for forgiveness. The blood of Christ alone is what justifies us.
We are not to wait until the last of our life, to believe. At the time that we hear of Jesus, that is our time to believe.
Word 3: “Woman, behold thy son!”(John 19:26)
1. Even though Mary is not to be idolized, have you ever consider the anointed role as the mother of Jesus? Have you ever considered her pain in witnessing the suffering of her son? Many may not have considered her anointed life because religious denominations, particularly the Roman Catholics, have made her almost equal, if not greater than Christ. Indeed, she was blessed to have borne the son of God. The role of the mother is to nurture and to teach moral values to her child. Mothers are the primary role models for their children. Jesus was a proper child. The pain that Mary endured had to be unbearable because her flesh suffered on the cross, but God choose her because she was strong. Mary knew that Jesus had a very spiritual purpose. More studies are needed on this great woman of God.
2. What scriptures indicate that she knew that her son Jesus was destined for a Godly purpose? In the gospel of Luke 1:30-49, Luke 1:30, the angel spoke to Mary and had an in-depth conversation about what God had implanted in her womb. She accepted the will of God.
3. Christ was exhausted and experienced excruciating pain. Yet he knew his mother and he knew the disciple that was present. What does this tell us about our relationships with family and with the saints? Our relationships with family and the saints should be strong. Even in his pain he sought to comfort his friends. When we are in need of prayer, we should not hesitate to call on our friends or those who are grounded in the faith.
Christ gave a command that Mary love John and that John take care of Mary. Even while dying, he was concerned about the lives of those who loved him. As we continue to grow in the knowledge of God, we are enlighten to know “Behold thy son,” is a direct command to Mary to remember her son. We all want to be remembered. Christ was to be remembered. In the book of Luke 2:21-41, at the dedication of Jesus, Simeon said to Mary, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through they own soul also.” It was during the time on the cross that the words spoken by Simeon came to pass.
Word 4: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”(Mark 15:34)
1. Jesus and the Father are one. Yet God had forsaken him. Explain. They are the same divine being. Christ came from the Father. God had forsaken Christ because he did not stop the crucifixion. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that this cup would pass him by. But he, prayed, “nevertheless, not my will, but thine will be done.”
2. During the most difficult hour of his life, Jesus still trusted in the Father. How do trials test our faith in the Father? Trials test our faith because we must continue to hold on to Jesus Christ. It is during difficult times, the word of God comes alive. It is during trials that we understand, our relationship with the Father. Job, at the hands of Satan, lost everything. He lost his family. But in all of his lost, he did not lose faith in God. (Job 1,2)
3. This scripture is written in what Psalms? How do people of faith handle times when it feels like God has forsaken them? In Psalms 22, David went through a lot with his enemies. David is an anti-type Christ, in that he loved the Lord greatly. He was a man after God’s own heart. At times, he felt like God had forsaken him. Jesus was a descendant of David. While going through, we must remember that God is with us. We are the apple of his eye. Our every concern is his concern. He wants us to trust that he will take us through. In many passages in the bible, God did not take his people from trouble, but he took them through.
In Christ, we see humanity. We see a man who trusted in the deliverance of his Father. Yet for that dreadful time in his life, he had to endure that we may be saved.
Word 5: “I Thirst.” (John 19:30)
In Christ, we can vision and feel humanity based on the writing of his anointed follower. To satisfy thirst, is one of the most basic human needs. Of course, Christ’s situation was of extreme, considering his suffering. Christ was on the cross for six hours before his death. His body hung in the most painful, uncomfortable position. Being human, his flesh had suffered severe torture. He hung on the cross being a mockery to his enemies, yet he was God’s begotten son. Explain these simple, yet powerful words “I thirst” in the context of:
1. Christ was thirsty – He had been before false witnesses all night. Transported from Ananias, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod and back to Pilate. He was physically and verbally abused. He was forced to carry his cross.
2. Spiritual – Consider Psalm 42:1. In this Psalm, David was thirsty, he fervently wanted the presence of God. God was thirsty for people to believe in him. So much so, that he made the final, lasting provision to save us. Christ wanted folks to believe.
3. What other ways do we see humanity in Christ, while on the cross? He gave the command to his disciple to look after his mother. He cared about his mom. His love for others never ceased. Christ felt the pain of betrayal.
His own people demanded his crucifixion. They choose to set free Barabbas, one who was guilty. He felt the pain of the beatings. He was not on medication. He was the Savior in the flesh. It was necessary that he bore all of the guilt of sin, to save us.
Word 6: “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
1. What was Christ born to do? The destiny of Christ was to save the world from sin. Man no longer have to bear the burden of sin. He is our Messiah, Matthew 3:3. “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.” (Isaiah 53:5)
2. Throughout his ministry, he witnessed that he was about the Father’s business. What is the business of the believer in Christ? Christ did all that his Father commanded him. He taught, healed, compelled people to believe in the Father. He was love in the flesh. In Romans 10:9, we must believe in Jesus Christ. In Matthew 28, the great commission to us is to go teach and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Teaching all that Christ had taught. It is our business to show love. The ten commandments are the expression of love. It commands us on how to love God in the first four and the last six commands us to love each other. So to do all that Christ had commanded is the business of every believer in Christ.
3. What was finished at death of Christ? As Christ called out ‘It is Finished,’ his business that he had to do for the Father had come to completion. “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luke 2:39). He had reached the point of victory over the will of Satan. His blood that he shed would save man from damnation. Salvation was open to all men. All that Christ had endured, was finished.
Finished were the sacrificial offerings, atonement, and the mosaic laws. No longer was man required to go to a priest for forgiveness. It was all finished at the cross. No longer did sin separate us from God. It was all finished at the cross.
We continue to reap the benefits of his ministry. His death was the beginning of salvation. Salvation will continue until the great tribulation. After which, salvation will be finished. He that is saved, will remain saved. He that is lost, will remain lost.
Word 7: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
1. When we consider all of the people we have trusted throughout our lives, none of those people can do for us what the Father does. In Christ, we realize that in the most extreme situation, we must have confidence in God. We must trust him in life and death. Explain. We put our trust in God’s hands. His hands are open and always inviting to us. In life, we trust him to save, protect and provide for us. At death we trust him to judge worthy of everlasting life. At death our Spirit returns to the Father. He does not allow our Spirit to be subjected to the powers of evil. But we are kept until the day of resurrection.
2. I will trust in the Lord until I die. Explain. Proverbs 3 – It is the continual confidence until the end of life, that we trust in the promise of God. The believer is determined not to let anything separate him/her from the love of God. (Romans 8)
3. Oh, the joy of giving our life into the Father’s hands. His hands are unchanging. Explain the function of hands and how it is good to be in the hands of the Father. Hands are made to hold. Hands welcome. It is good to be in his hands because they fail not, that do not get weak. In Jeremiah, Israel is the clay and the Lord is the potter. Israel was to trust in the hands of the Lord. His hands will mold us and shape our lives to be righteous before him. (Jeremiah 18:6)
4. To say Father, indicates what type of relationship with him? Father indicates a close relationship. We understand who he is to us. Father is a title of deep endearment. In him we have confidence that we are his and he is ours. In him, we have confidence that he is always with us. In him, we have confidence that our every concern, is his concern. In the natural, the father is the head of the house. It is his responsibility to provide for the complete welfare of his family. When in need, the family turns to the father. In the spiritual, the heavenly Father is above all. We look to him to provide all of our needs. Because of Christ, we have the privilege to pray direct to our heavenly Father. When he gave the disciples prayer, it is clear that he wants us to have a loving, faithful relationship with our Father.
Written by Pastor Tylvia E. Koromah
What are your thoughts about Jesus’ last words on the cross? Please tell us below and be blessed.