Many people have no idea that many of the most important preaching of Jesus Christ were His last words on the cross. While at the cross, full of pain and agony from the hands of His captors, Jesus taught us inspiring words that can ultimately transform our lives into a more faithful person.
The words of Christ on the cross was a powerful saving grace to those who believe but it is foolishness to those who are bound to perish. 1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Many of these words were misunderstood by many who falsely interpreted according to their own knowledge. In this series of Bible Study, we will examine the last words of Jesus and we will discover that indeed, these words are more than farewell words but teachings of how can we become more mature in faith.
The words on the cross direct our faith and gives us encouragement to continue serving the Lord God. Faith, as we all know comes from hearing the words, and through the words of Jesus Christ, we will be more knowledgeable on what the will of God is.
We will not be much particular on the order of these words spoken by Jesus as explained by some Bible scholars. We do believe that each has a lesson to teach and every one can come in any order.
As Jesus was dying on the cross, he echoed the beginning of Psalm 22:1-2, which reads: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.”
These Words are the opening line of Psalm 22, and thus His cry from the Cross recalls the cry of Israel, and of all innocent persons who suffer. Psalm 22 of David made a striking prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah, at a time when crucifixion did not exist: “They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones” (22:16-17). The Psalm continued to relate that“they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (22:18)
“Eli, Eli lama sabachthani.”
Matthew 27:46 – And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
First we try to get the meaning of the Hebrew words used by Jesus. Eli – means my God. Lama – means that is or why. And sabachthani means – a call of distress, thou hast left me. In our own words, the translation would be: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ”
When we read this verse without looking on possible explanation, we might assume that what happened to Jesus was unexpected, that He was surprised, that He wasn’t expecting this. We know that Christ knew that He had a bitter cup, a suffering to drink, that everything was a plan that He all knew all along.
He knew what was going to happen.
He had predicted that He would be betrayed by one of his Apostles (Judas Iscariot), that He will be caught by the Roman soldiers and that He would be killed. He knew in the scriptures that He will do everything that was written about Him.
Luk 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Therefore, He knew all these events that were about to happen to Him.
The question is, why did Jesus say that God has forsaken Him?
We know for a fact here that Jesus is just setting an example, that everything He would experience are all scripted according to what the scriptures had written about Him. These are all mysteries of God, according to His pleasure which He had purposed in Himself. Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
We also know that Jesus bear the sins of many. He was no sin at all, but made Himself share to our sins that we may have union with Him and share the righteousness of God. 2Co 5:21 Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.
As He bears the sins of many, He put Himself in a position that is worthy of abandonment. In the Bible, people of Israel were abandoned by God because of their sins and refusal to follow His will. Num 32:15 If you people of Reuben and Gad refuse to follow him now, he will once again abandon all these people in the wilderness, and you will be responsible for their destruction.”
1Ki 14:16 The LORD will abandon Israel because Jeroboam sinned and led the people of Israel into sin.”
Some might say, “God abandoned His son?”
This is only to show us that God will indeed abandon anyone, even His own son if He doesn’t do the will of the Father. The Father abandoned him because Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for the sins of many.
In reverse, God doesn’t abandon anyone who willfully obey God’s will and commandments. This is evident in the many verses of the Bible. Psalms 9:10 Those who know you, LORD, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you. Psalms 37:28 for the LORD loves what is right and does not abandon his faithful people. He protects them forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be driven out.
Summary: God abandons sinners but never forsakes faithful people.
Joh 19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
In Hebrew word it was translated as dipsaō (dip-sah’-o) from a variation of G1373; to thirst for (literally or figuratively): – (be, be a-) thirst (-y).
As it was stated on the verse, all things must be accomplished, and everything was accomplished so that the scripture might be fulfilled. Jesus’ actions and words were all part of what was said about Him. It was all prophecy that was manifested and accomplished through Him. Every detail had to be fulfilled, every detail of the will of God. This includes the sufferings that Jesus must undertake.
What is the meaning of Jesus’ words, “I thirst” ?
Physically, Jesus had lost a lot of blood and since hanging in the cross for quite some time in the heat of the sun, He’d probably suffering from thirst. This might be the reason why He said, “I thirst.”
The immediate response of His tormentors, rather than quenching His thirst for relief of thirst, was to dipped a sponge into a sour wine (vinegar), that even further His sufferings when dipped into his dry and wounded lips. This was a prophecy written by the Psalmist David, Psa 69:21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Being in the flesh, it is more suitable to say that Jesus’ thirst was due to His sufferings from His tormentors. But indeed, since Jesus was telling us something more than His physical thirst, He meant different thirst here.
Being thirsty is not only for water or anything that we drink. People have different forms of thirst such as, thirst for freedom, power, wealth or other things that we wanted most to happen or have in our lives. A form of thirst in the Bible is the thirst not of water but the thirst of hearing the words of God.
Amo 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
And Jesus has already told them before that blessed are those who thirst for God’s righteousness. People usually thirst for material things, and this was the reason why many people interpret that His thirst was for water, that He needed something to drink to quench His thirst.
God thirst too, but not for material things. God thirst for us, for our services, for our worship, for our praises and thanksgiving, for our songs and prayers. God wants us to see that every time we gather for His Holy Name. Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
When Jesus said “I thirst,” He meant He thirst for us. And like His tormentors, do we offer Him vinegar instead of water to quench His thirst?
What can we offer God to quench His thirst?
Until now, God thirst for many people. Many people have already forgotten God. They turned their ways against God, just like the people of Israel before. people are too busy with the material things and are too attached with the worldly pleasures of this life instead of being busy with serving the Lord.
These attitudes of people make God thirsts even more. We are His creations and He expects us to fulfill every purpose that He has in us.
The question is, how do we quench God’s thirst?
What sort of life can we offer to quench His thirst?
Peter advises us to live a holy life in all the days of our lives. Not only during worship days, holidays and special days, but in all the days, and in all the aspects of our lives. 1Pe 1:15 Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy.
2Pe 3:11 Since all these things will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God,
Summary: Quench the thirst of God through faithful service.
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Luk 23:34 Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.” They divided his clothes among themselves by throwing dice.
This is one of the most well loved verses in the Bible because of the message of love itself. He says this in the Gospel of Luke, when he was crucified by the Roman soldiers in Golgotha.
On His right and on His left were criminals also crucified. Even on the final hours of His life on earth, Jesus is teaching forgiveness. Forgiving is a sign of love. Anyone who can forgive for something wrongly done is an act of love. And we know that love is the greatest commandment of God.
The question is, to whom did Jesus pertain His request of forgiveness?
Could this apply to His Apostles who deserted Him after He was captured?
Could this apply to His tormentors (Roman soldiers), who caused Him a lot of physical pains?
Could this apply to His perpetrators (High Priests), who planned of His execution?
Could this apply to Judas Iscariot, who sold Him for thirty pieces of silver?
Could this not also apply to us, who daily forget him in our lives?
In all of the sufferings inflicted on Jesus, He is like a sheep in the hour of His death. He did not say anything bad to anyone, nor He does anything against His accusers. Instead, He asks the Father to forgive them because of their ignorance of Him.
People may misinterpret this.
Once again, we explain that all these are examples of Jesus to each of us, so that we learn a special message, so that we learn to forgive in any given circumstances. 1Pe 2:21 It was to this that God called you, for Christ himself suffered for you and left you an example, so that you would follow in his steps.
He did not react angrily as other people may do. At the peak of His physical suffering, the divine love of Jesus prevails.
Earlier, in the Lord’s prayer, He teaches forgiveness, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12).When asked by Peter, how many times should we forgive someone, Jesus answers seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
At the Last Supper, Jesus explains his crucifixion to his Apostles when he tells them to drink of the cup: “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28).
He forgives the paralytic at Capernaum (Mark 2:5), and the adulteress caught in the act and about to be stoned (John 8:1-11). And even following his Resurrection, his first act is to commission his disciples to forgive, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22-23).
Many people forgive but with condition. The love of God is unconditional, and even His forgiveness is unconditional too. This is what He wants us to learn and possess as a Christian, that we may learn to forgive anyone, at anything, at any given time and circumstances.
We forgive because it is God’s commandment.
We forgive because we will also be forgiven if we do.
We forgive because it is an act of love.
We forgive because God forgives us first.
Summary: Forgive, a commandment – a sign of love.
“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Jesus was being mocked not only by His perpetrators and His captors, He was also mocked by one of the criminals crucified along with Him in Golgotha. But the other criminal, knowing that Jesus was being treated unjustly, spoke to Him and cried out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
The word paradise was taken from the Greek word paradeisos (par-ad’-i-sos) Of Oriental origin (compare [H6508]); a park, that is, (specifically) an Eden (place of future happiness, “paradise”): – paradise. In Old Testament, it usually refer to the Garden of Eden.
The paradise that Jesus is referring to is associated with heaven, the abode of God. It is a place in where all the righteous people go when they receive the price of salvation from the Father. Joh 14:1 ”Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me. Joh 14:2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. Joh 14:3 And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.
Here, the Bible introduces a Jesus that can grant salvation at an instant. This is the reason why many believe in Jesus, and instantly be saved upon having faith in Him. But, is this the explanation of this verse?
Can Jesus really grant salvation? In many Bible verses in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the redeemer. He is the only way to the Father. No one comes to Father except through Him. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He was prophesied in the book of Isaiah as the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father and the mighty God. Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
This is why we believe that Jesus and the Father are ONE. (John 10:30) We believe that Jesus was the incarnate God, manifested Himself through the flesh and set examples for every one to follow.
The answer to the question if Jesus can grant salvation is YES, because He and the Father are One. He is God and can give salvation to anyone He likes.
In the case of the criminal, some say that this is like a desperate, last-grasp effort of asking God. Yes indeed., it is a last ditch effort for salvation. But it doesn’t matter if it is a last -grasp effort or not, as long as He believed in Jesus. And Jesus is the owner of the salvation. He has the power to save the criminal and He promised Him that salvation, that paradise.
Salvation might comprise of different components like, hearing the words of God, through listening comes faith, doing the will of God by obeying His commandments, and transformation of life by getting rid of the old self, which was destroyed by deceitful desires. Eph 4:22 So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires.
But in every rule, there is an exemption. The criminal was given the promised of the paradise because He heard the words of Jesus while on the cross. By listening to Jesus, even at short span of time comes his faith in him. He may not had the opportunity to be part of the church of God, which Christ built for His people, but it is Christ Himself who grant His petition to remember Him.
In our case, it is different. We are not like the criminal who believed in Him but has less opportunity to perform the other things needed for salvation. We, like him also believed in Jesus Christ, but we all have the opportunity to listen to His words, and perform what is needed in His words and to live a new and transformed life in His church.
1Co 15:1 And now I want to remind you, my friends, of the Good News which I preached to you, which you received, and on which your faith stands firm.
1Co 15:2 That is the gospel, the message that I preached to you. You are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it—unless it was for nothing that you believed.
It is a wrong impression to conclude that we can be saved like the criminal if we just have faith in Jesus. Having faith though, is a requirement but not the only requirement.
For topics on faith, salvation and Grace of God: “According to your faith let it be to you” , Believing is not Salvation , By Works or by Grace?, Can we be saved by faith alone?, Confess and Believe in your Heart, Enoch, Resurrection and Faith, Faith for Everyone, Faith is a Journey, Faith is Needed for Salvation, Submit to God rather than Man, The Grace of God.
Summary: Jesus is our salvation.
“He is your son.”
Joh 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Jesus’ clothes were divided among the soldiers through a dice game to fulfill what is written in Psalms 22:18, which says ” They gamble for my clothes and divide them among themselves.”
After this, standing close to Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.
Joh 19:26 Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there; so he said to his mother, “He is your son.” Joh 19:27 Then he said to the disciple, “She is your mother.” From that time the disciple took her to live in his home.
In what could be His final words to His mother, Mary, Jesus entrusted her to one of His disciples, who is very dear to Him (John). But this is not an ordinary commendation or hand over ceremony done by Jesus. He is speaking about more than a relationship of a mother and a son. He is speaking about a special relationship that will bind His mother Mary and His beloved disciple John.
What Jesus really meant here is the relationship of the members of His church.
Why is it that the relationship of a mother and son is as special as the relationship of every members of His church?
We already know that a mother’s love is one of the greatest. It may be second to God’s love because it is also unconditional. The love of the mothers to their children is an unseen cord that binds us from them. The umbilical cord may have been cut when we were born, but the invisible force that binds us with them is a thing we can never neglect.
The ability of the mothers to raise their children spiritually is a special gift that was shown in 2 Timothy 1:5, it says, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
And this character of a mother is the same with the mother (church), as was discussed by Apostle Paul, the mystery about Christ and His church, was likened to a wife and a husband. Definitely, the church’s role is to raise all members strong and standing in the faith to the one and only Lord God.
Eph 5:23-33 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
To Jesus Christ, mothers and sons are important, just as equally important to His church, which He considers as His wife. So each members of the church has an obligation to fulfill and that is, to be part of the work of the church, which is to propagate the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and keep its members to perform the duties and obligations of a faithful servant of God.
Each member has an obligation also to love one another. Jesus entrusted His mother to His disciple as a sign of love. And this brotherly love should be evident to all the member of the church, just as we are commanded to love others too even if they are not faithfully related to us.
Summary: Love one another, love the church, love the members and love others.
“It is finished”
John 19:30 Jesus drank the wine and said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Many people believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He failed on His mission.
But Jesus, knowing that everything will come to Him and all were just a fulfillment of what were already written in the scriptures, says “IT IS FINISHED.” It is from the Greek word teleō (tel-eh’-o) which means to end, that is, complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt): – accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform.
Jesus announces His victory that everything was done according to the will of God. His bitter cup, His sufferings and all His tasks ended and all were completed according to full purpose of God. As an example, Jesus was obedient to the will of His Father. As we all know, the Father and Jesus are ONE, therefore, He was just setting an example to be followed.
Philippians 2:5-8 The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross.
Apostle Peter explains how Jesus left us an example to follow. As a Christian, we have to learn that we must follow what Christ did, to be humble like Christ did, to be obedient like Christ did and to finish all the tasks faithfully in the glory of the Father.
1 Peter 2:21-24 It was to this that God called you, for Christ himself suffered for you and left you an example, so that you would follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no one ever heard a lie come from his lips. When he was insulted, he did not answer back with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but placed his hopes in God, the righteous Judge. Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed.
Jesus made a very important announcement here, that if He finished all His tasks, we too, should finish what are to be done. It will not be easy. There will be trials and tests. But God’s help is always there for us. Yes, Jesus have conquered and finished everything in this world and He encourages us to do the same. John 16:33 I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”
Apostle Paul shares the secret of how to accomplish God’s will, that is, keeping ourselves in control of all circumstances of our lives as we perform the duty of a servant of God. We have to do our best until the end, run the race, keep the faith and endure everything, even all the sufferings.
2 Timothy 4:5-8 But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News, and perform your whole duty as a servant of God. As for me, the hour has come for me to be sacrificed; the time is here for me to leave this life. I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith. And now there is waiting for me the victory prize of being put right with God, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day—and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for him to appear.
Our tasks is clear, to perform the role given to us by God, to fulfill our purpose of existence, to live according to His purpose and not according to our own purposes, to obey God’s will and follow all His commandments, and if we accomplish everything, like Christ did, we can also say that it is finished.
Mic 6:8 He has made clear to you, O man, what is good; and what is desired from you by the Lord; only doing what is right, and loving mercy, and walking without pride before your God. (BBE)
Summary: Finish the task given to us by God.
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ”Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”: (Luke 23:46)
We have to recall here that everything that Jesus did and said were all examples that we have to follow as Christians.
Many have misinterpreted everything Jesus said about His Father. The reason is that they believe that Jesus is different from the Father. Some believe that He is only a man, and a son, and that makes Him totally different from God.
When Jesus was asked about where is His Father, He answers, John 8:19 ”Where is your father?” they asked him. “You know neither me nor my Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
Here, Jesus is trying to talk to them in mystery. He is introducing Himself and the Father in a much different way. He even told them that they will die from their sins if they do not believe that He is the Father.
John 8:24 That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. And you will die in your sins if you do not believe that‘I Am Who I Am’.”
When Moses said to God in Exodus 3:13, it says “But Moses replied, “When I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ So what can I tell them?”
And God said “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you.’
They did not understand that Jesus was referring to the Father. Joh 8:25 ”Who are you?” they asked him. Jesus answered, “What I have told you from the very beginning. Joh 8:26 I have much to say about you, much to condemn you for. The one who sent me, however, is truthful, and I tell the world only what I have heard from him.” Joh 8:27 They did not understand that Jesus was talking to them about the Father.
Again, Jesus was asked by one of His disciples, John 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Phillip was excited to see the Father that Jesus was referring to, because Jesus said that not only you will know Him but you will see Him.
And what did Jesus answered? John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? This is so simple to understand. If we want to know the Father, we have to know Jesus. We don’t need to see the Father if we already saw Jesus. And this is what Jesus answered to Phillip. He wants us to believe that the Father and Him are ONE.
Joh 14:10-12 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Therefore, to be able to understand the messages of Jesus, we have to know who He really is? If we believe that He and the Father are different entities, we will not be able to grasp the meaning of His teachings.
In His final words, Jesus quotes Psalm 31:5, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”
As an example that He wants us to follow, we too, should also entrust our spirit to God.
The body given to us is composed of the physical body itself, the spirit (breath of life -given to us by God) and the soul- which is the inner personality of our being. Aside from this, we were given the gifts of Holy Spirit so that we can do everything God asks us to accomplish.
Every one will die just like what the Bible said in Hebrews 9: 27, the act and words of Jesus entrusting His spirit to the Father is an acknowledgement that He already finished everything He was supposed to do. And that since His life was about to end, He was making an example again that we should learn to follow.
It is like we are entrusting everything to the Lord whatever happens to us.
But we can see more than this if we try to look on Psalm 31, O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right.
In verse 5, we can find, I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God.
It is always with God that we must trust everything in our lives. God delivers His people. God shows His strength and faithfulness to those who have fear in Him and obey His commandments. God saves. Praise the LORD, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. (Psalm 31: 21)
Jesus wants us to learn that if we totally trust God above all else and do what we must supposed to do, then like Him, we will be resurrected someday and will be given the chance to be with the Father in heaven.
Summary: In God we trust, whether we live or we die.