The Seven Sayings Of Jesus On The Cross

By Jacob Redekop

The four Gospels record the seven sayings of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Three utterances took place in the early hours of His crucifixion and four in the later hours. In this meditation, the seven sayings are not placed in a specific order. Each gospel records those sayings that are in keeping with the theme of that particular gospel. Only His cry of being forsaken is recorded in two gospels, Matthew and Mark, and that is where we begin.

1. “At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” —Mark 15:34 NKJV

Jesus had already been falsely accused by the chief priests and elders and taken to stand trial before Annas and then Caiaphas, the high priest (Jn. 18:13). Afterwards, He was taken to Pilate, to Herod and back to Pilate. The Roman soldiers had brutally beat Jesus, pulled the hair from His cheeks and mocked Him. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this One saying, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7). Jesus Christ, bearing His cross and wearing a crown of thorns, with His back ripped open and bleeding, was led away to Calvary to be crucified.

We stand in awe as we consider the Lord of Glory hanging on the accursed tree. We should have been there, and we would have been had His wondrous love not caused Him to take our place as the blessed Substitute. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Christ Himself gave the answer to this question: “Why have You forsaken Me?” The Lord Jesus was forsaken by God so we would never be forsaken. Instead, we now know and enjoy the love of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ – God’s gift to us. It was love unbounded, full and free. Paul’s prayer expresses this in Ephesians 3:17-19: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

What was it blessed God, led Thee to give Thy Son,To yield Thy well-beloved for us by sin undone?
‘Twas love unbounded led Thee thusTo give Thy well-beloved for us.
—Ann Taylor (1782-1866)

2. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’” —Luke 23:34

Willful, sinful, callused hands nailed the Son of God to that Roman cross. The soldiers stripped Jesus and then placed His body on that cross. They nailed His feet to the beam of wood and His hands to the cross piece. Think of the physical pain and agony when they lifted the cross and dropped it into the hole that had been dug in the ground. The soldiers then sat down and watched Him.

Jesus’ own people, the Jews, taunted Him, saying, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ’I am the Son of God’” (Mt. 27:43). Psalm 22 gives us this prophetic picture: They surrounded Him with their gaping mouths, circling around like a raging and roaring lion – a picture of Satan – ready to devour. Dogs, picturing the Gentiles, also surrounded Him; and there was none to help.

He could have called ten thousand angels, but He would not. Rather than seeking help to be delivered from His adversaries, He prayed for His enemies, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Unless He endured the cross, despising the shame, Jesus knew that no one could be forgiven. Justice must be satisfied. Satan, the deceiver, must be defeated, and the sinner must be reconciled.

3. “Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” —Luke 23:43

Jesus, the sinless Son of Man, was hanging on the cross between two guilty criminals, and those who passed by wagged their heads and said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save” (Mt. 27:42). This reminds us of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam. 1:12).

No doubt the two thieves had heard Jesus praying these words, “Father, forgive them.” They had also witnessed His silent suffering on the middle cross. One of the criminals then turned in faith to the Savior, acknowledging his guilt and claiming the message of forgiveness. He said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42). Immediately the Lord gave the assurance that on that very day he would be with Him in Paradise. What joy must have flooded the heart of this man who had become a “new” creation in Christ Jesus! We are not told his name; indeed, he represents all who believe. One moment he had feared eternal separation from God, and the next moment he had received the promise to be with the Savior “today.”

Then this new-born man, no longer condemned to the lake of fire, became a gospel preacher to the other thief crucified there. The story of this believing thief still preaches to all who hear this message. Dear friend, have you come to the Savior? He has promised eternal life to all who seek Him. Come just as you are and just where you are. Come right now to the Savior for you may have no tomorrow!

4. “When Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit’” —Luke 23: 46

The very first words of Jesus are recorded in Luke’s gospel, after He was found in the temple and said to His mother, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (2:49). Luke also recorded these words of Jesus, as with a loud voice He cried, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Jesus had been about His Father’s business from first to last. He went about doing good, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind and seeking the Father’s will in every situation. Just before going to the cross, Jesus had entered the garden of Gethsemane and, being in agony of soul, He said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (22:42). In perfect obedience He submitted to the will of the Father. With all our hearts we agree with the centurion who saw what happened on that cross and glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” (23:47).

5. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” —John 19:26-27

Only the gospel of John mentions this scene that included himself and the mother of Jesus. While hanging on the cross, Jesus saw Mary and John, the disciple whom He loved, standing nearby. Love had drawn them there while others had fled. What thoughts of sorrow must have filled their hearts as they watched Him hanging there. Jesus, not thinking of Himself or His sufferings, saw His mother and with a caring heart said, “Woman, behold your son!” To the disciple John He said, “Behold your mother!”

In His darkest hour Jesus cared for a mother’s sorrowing heart and spoke words of comfort to her, providing for her emotional and physical needs. Perhaps there is someone reading this who is passing through sorrow and grief and who feels very much alone. Maybe a loved one has been taken and there is no one to give help and comfort. Remember this: Jesus cares for you – for your physical and your spiritual needs. The love that moved Him to go to the cross for you is filled with compassion and ready to meet every need.

6. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst.’” —John 19:28

After hanging on the cross for the first three hours, the Lord Jesus spoke of His physical sufferings for the first time when He cried out, “I thirst.” Here again we recall the prophetic words of Psalm 22: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd [a broken piece of earthenware], and My tongue clings to My jaws” (v.15). No angel came to strengthen Him. There was none to show compassion at the time of His deepest need. All that men had to offer Him was sour vinegar to drink.

That cry, “I thirst,” had a much deeper meaning, for He came to suffer on the cross in love for you and me. His thirst for our salvation led Him to give Himself for us as “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:2). His was a voluntary sacrifice, for He said, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received from My Father” (Jn. 10:17-18).

This Jesus is the same One who sat by Sychar’s well, weary from His journey, and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. He then offered her living water to quench her spiritual thirst. She drank of that life-giving water and went away satisfied, for she had found the Christ. The Lord was refreshed and satisfied too because He delights to serve a needy soul. Are you willing to come to Him and let Him satisfy your needs and longings?

7. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” —John 19:30

“It is finished!” These last words spoken by Jesus on the cross are far-reaching and very rich in meaning. All the types and shadows and all the sacrifices pointing to the cross were now fulfilled. Nothing more could or needed to be added to make it more complete. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified … Then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’” (Heb. 10:14,17).

The way into the most holy place is now opened for us, and with boldness, or holy liberty, we can enter by faith into the very presence of God. This holy privilege is for us to enjoy – even speaking to Him as a child to a loving Father. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water … Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (vv.22,24-25). This is our privilege at the present time, but there is much more to come in “the day” that is fast approaching.

Time and again the Spirit points us to the Lamb of God who, by shedding His precious blood, has paved the way for future blessings which are to be revealed when He comes to establish His kingdom. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him at the Jordan River, he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). This verse encompasses the purposes of God for the ages to come, culminating in the day of God when “we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).