The Seven Last Sayings Of Jesus
The seven last sayings of Jesus are:
Luke 23:34 – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:43 – “Truly, truly I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.”
John 19:26-27 – “Woman, behold your son… behold your Mother.”
Matthew 27:46 – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
John 19:28 – “I thirst.”
John 19:30 – “It is finished.”
Luke 23:46 – “Father, into your hands I commend your spirit.”
Not one of these 7 sayings was uttered lightly.
The first saying is “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” How does God forgive? The irony of this statement is that Jesus says “forgive them” for, in reality, doing what will ultimately make forgiveness possible. This one deed of the crucifixion both makes forgiveness possible and more necessary than it had ever been before. The essence of sin is a refusal to love God as much as He has loved us because it’s too demanding, the sacrifice is too great. Sin is refusing that kind of love that keeps giving until there’s nothing left to give. Jesus said that nobody takes His life; He freely lays it down of His own accord. His life was not taken, it was given. Our sin is the only thing we can really give to Christ.
The second saying is “Truly, truly I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.” Some non-Catholic Christians claim that the story of the good thief proves the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, the doctrine that claims that if we just believe in Jesus and His salvation then we will go to heaven no matter what we do on earth. They point to the thief on the cross who had faith but no good works. This is a serious misinterpretation of what happens on the other cross. Was the thief saved by faith alone apart from good works? Look more closely at what the good thief did. First, he rebuked a sinner, someone who was railing against Jesus. Second, he accepted responsibility for his own sin. Third, in the midst of all these people in agony, he turns to Jesus and in front of all these accusers says “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom”. He confessed Jesus Christ as a king when everyone else abandoned him. This thief had both faith and good works, by which we are saved through grace.
The third saying is “Woman, behold your son… behold your Mother.” Why does Jesus address Mary as “woman” here instead of mom, mother, or even Mary? He is acknowledging Mary as the woman of Genesis 3:15, the protoevangelium. In Genesis 3:15, God reveals His plan that the head of Satan and his seed shall be crushed by a woman and her seed. Eve’s disobedience lost her the title of mother of all the living at the foot of a tree; Mary now through her obedience gains the title of supernatural mother of all the living at the foot of another tree, the cross. Satan was crushed, not just through the woman’s seed, but through the woman. Through a woman came sin, so also through a woman came salvation – Mary, the “woman” who will crush the head of Satan, the “woman” who is crowned queen of heaven and earth in Revelation 12.
The fourth saying is “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Why did Jesus say this? He said this because in His flesh that’s how it felt, but in reality that’s not all that was going on. In His flesh He felt the pain, the betrayals, and the denials of His best friend. In His humanity He felt abandonment, because that’s the only way human beings can come close to the Trinity’s love because that’s what self-donation has to feel, it has to go through passion. The answer to the question Jesus asks is found in Psalm 22 which He is quoting from. Psalm 22 is a psalm of lament and deliverance, of victory, of triumph through suffering.
The fifth saying is “I thirst” which goes along with the sixth saying “It is finished.” John says this fulfills Scripture as a bowl of sour wine was raised to his mouth. What is the it Jesus is referring to when He says “It is finished?” The Passover meal had four cups; in the Gospel account you see how the Last Supper was a Passover meal but they only drank three cups. After the third cup (the cup of blessing), Jesus says He won’t taste the fruit of the vine again until His kingdom comes. Instead of drinking the fourth cup, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. In the Garden, Jesus prays for God to take this cup away from Him. The fourth cup is the link between the Passover and the crucifixion, the Last Supper and Calvary, the Eucharist and Jesus’ death on the cross, Jesus fulfilling the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. What does this mean? It means that the Last Supper and the crucifixion was one big event, one big Passover. In other words, the Last Supper was a sacrifice just like the Mass today is called a sacrifice. The Eucharist and Calvary are one and the same sacrifice. It is clear that there is a connection between the Passover, the Last Supper, and the cross. With the Passover in the old covenant, you had to eat the Passover lamb. For us to participate in the new covenant, we also have to eat the Lamb and that is exactly what we do in the Holy Eucharist along with the cup of blessing (the third cup), the cup consecrated by Jesus that enables us to drink the fourth cup. The it Jesus is referring to is the Passover of the New Covenant. The fourth cup is the moment when the Passover is complete.
The last saying is “Father, into your hands I commend your spirit.” Jesus lays down His life to the Father as a total gift for the salvation of all of us. No one took His life from Him, but He laid it down for us.
This lesson on the seven last sayings of Jesus is derived from a talk by Dr. Scott Hahn. You can have great Catholic CD’s like this one mailed to your home every month with a subscription to the Catholic CD of the Month Club. Our site also includes summaries, study guides, discussion questions, and more for each talk every month. Sign up for a monthly subscription and get a free gift – “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn!