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The Last Words of Christ

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The Last Words of Christ

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Soon, we will gather to keep the Passover. God instituted that Festival as He was preparing to deliver Israel from the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:5-11 Exodus 12:5-11 [5] Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: [6] And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. [7] And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. [8] And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. [9] Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the entrails thereof. [10] And you shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire. [11] And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover.
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). Israel was to eat that meal in haste, but before the meal of lamb they were to put the blood from the lamb on their doorposts. God had Israel do this to know who was obedient to Him, and seeing that blood, the “destroyer” would “pass over” that house and save the life of the firstborn.

The meal, lamb and blood of the first Passover in Exodus were all symbols that pointed to Christ. He fulfilled those symbols—that is what we rehearse in the Passover. His broken body and His blood is our Passover—He is the Passover lamb. He then gave new symbols to His church—symbols with deeper meaning. But Christ is not just a lamb—He is our Messiah! Through His sacrifice, our sins were covered by His shed blood. He also came to offer the gift of the Holy Spirit to those the Father would call.

This brings us to Christ’s last words before He died. Luke’s Gospel account has three of these sayings, John’s Gospel has another three, and Matthew and Mark record one each—all for a total of seven sayings or expressions.

The words Christ spoke do have meaning for us to consider. He knew He was dying, and knew that He came to die for us. As He was being crucified, He could feel His life ebbing. It was during these periods that He uttered these seven short sentences. Each thought has meaning for us to consider as we approach Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

1. “Father, forgive them”

The first is found in Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
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“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”

Roman crucifixions were so commonplace, that they often became a source of entertainment. Christ had been scourged, was covered in blood and was on the edge of physical shock. In spite of His imminent death, the Roman soldiers were gambling for His tunic—they were so used to crucifixions that they made a little side money by selling the victims clothing.

The apostle John’s account tells us that the soldiers had cut up and divided Christ’s other clothes amongst themselves, but decided to cast lots for His tunic. In doing so, they fulfilled the prophecy in Psalms 22:18 Psalms 22:18They part my garments among them, and cast lots on my clothing.
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.

We must be careful that we are no different than those Roman soldiers—and the others in the multitude there who had conspired in and were supporting the death of Christ. In considering these words of Christ as He hung dying, when was the last time we asked God to forgive us because we didn’t think about what we were doing? Are we thankful that Christ died for our sins—even the ones done in ignorance?

2. “You shall be with me in Paradise”

The second statement made by Christ as He was dying was to the penitent thief: “I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43 Luke 23:39-43 [39] And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If you be Christ, save yourself and us. [40] But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do not you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? [41] And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss. [42] And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. [43] And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with me in paradise.
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). Some use this verse as proof that a person goes to heaven upon death, but John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
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tells us that is not the case. Other verses speak to this truth as well (Acts 2:29 Acts 2:29Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
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and Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
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for example).

The simpler and biblically consistent answer lies in understanding that the Greek language in which the Gospels were written didn’t have punctuation as the English language does today. A better translation of this verse would be: “I say to you today (comma), you shalt be with me in Paradise.” We know this is accurate, because Christ Himself did not return to Heaven until more than three days after making this statement.

But as he was dying, Christ was giving hope to a sinner. The man would have opportunity to be in God’s Kingdom. In many ways, this statement made by Christ was for anyone who is repentant before God. The word, “Paradise” can also be translated “Eden.” What mankind threw away in rejecting God in the Garden of Eden, God still seeks to restore to mankind. God wants a relationship with His Creation. He wants us to be in His family and He has not walked away from us!

3. “Behold, your son”

Christ had to be committed to His task of becoming our sin sacrifice. From John’s Gospel account, only Christ’s mother, Mary, her sister Mary (Salome—the mother of James and John), Mary Magdalene and John were not ashamed to be with Christ at His crucifixion (John 19:25-26 John 19:25-26 [25] Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. [26] When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son!
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).

The end was nearing for Jesus. As He looked out at the remaining witnesses of His death, He saw His mother and John, and said to Mary, “behold your son” (John 19:25-26 John 19:25-26 [25] Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. [26] When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son!
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). His stepfather, Joseph, had died long ago, His stepbrothers and sisters were nowhere to be found at that moment, so Christ honored her by making sure she was taken care of. Then looking at the grief-stricken John, the beloved apostle, Christ said: “Behold your mother.” Even in His dying moments, Jesus was concerned about others and saw to it that His mother would be cared for during the remainder of her lifetime.

4. “Why have you forsaken Me?”

Christ next said, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 Matthew 27:46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
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). He is quoting from Psalms 22:1 Psalms 22:1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
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using the same words there. This is the only saying recorded in more than one Gospel.

Christ suffered hours of intense pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough wood. Psalms 22:14 Psalms 22:14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the middle of my bowels.
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gives us insight as to what Christ was thinking at that time—I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

Even in dying, Christ was giving hope to a sinner.

The Father and the Son had existed together in eternity, and yet because of the profound love that They are and that They have, They established the plan of salvation for mankind. Christ became a man in order to live a sinless life, and as our Creator He was able to pay for the sins of all mankind through His shed blood. As Christ hung dying, He took upon Himself the penalty that we deserved for our sin.

Christ knew this had to be. Our sin brings death (not eternal life, Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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) and while in that sin we are separated from God (Isaiah 59:2 Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
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). Not one of us is exempt from this (Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
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). Upon death, Christ became our sin payment. He bore our sin so that we could take on the righteousness of God (1 Peter 2:24 1 Peter 2:24Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
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).

5. “I thirst”

Christ simply says “I thirst” (John 19:28 John 19:28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst.
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). Again, Psalms 22:15 Psalms 22:15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue sticks to my jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death.
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gives us His thoughts in prophecy: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”

A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus’ lips. It was prophesied that He would be given this sour wine to drink (Psalms 69:21 Psalms 69:21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
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), but tasting it, He refused to drink it (Mark 15:23 Mark 15:23And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
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) because He had to finish this task with a clear head and without the minor pain-killing effect of alcohol.

Could this acknowledgment of thirst have been more than physical thirst? Certainly, He would have been very thirsty from the loss of blood, but what if Christ was also expressing a spiritual thirst? “…if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink,” (John 7:37 John 7:37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
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). We are to desire to drink in that spiritual drink, God’s instruction. Do we?

6. “It is finished”

Jesus’ body was now in extremis (very close to death), and He would certainly feel death creeping through His body. This realization brought forth His sixth expression: “It is finished” (John 19:30 John 19:30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
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).

This statement was not resignation—it was a statement of success! The Greek translated “finished” is tetelestai and means “accomplished”—“It is accomplished.” His mission of atonement for us had been completed. He had known from prehistory that He would accomplish this for mankind. He came with the joy of knowing that mankind could be in the God family because of His blood payment for our sins. He knew the Father would restore His glory and that God’s Holy Spirit would be given in the next step to come in God’s plan of salvation for us. Finally, He could die because that step in the plan was now accomplished. We are able to be called, have God’s Spirit in us and be a part of the Body of Christ because He accomplished the Father’s will in being our Passover.

7. “I commit My Spirit”

Christ once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46 Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
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, quoting Psalms 31:5 Psalms 31:5Into your hand I commit my spirit: you have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
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).

This is an announcement and not a request. Think of the complete love and trust He had in the Father. Think of the oneness that He and the Father would have once again (John 17:21-22 John 17:21-22 [21] That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. [22] And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
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)—soon Christ would once again be one with the Father in glory. Christ knew that all that He had gone through, the sacrifice for our sin that He became, all that He and the Father had planned for was now set.

We are now able to be a part of the Body of Christ because He was our Passover.

Through His death, we can have the love and unity that the Father and the Son have for each other and for us. He declared it so (John 17:20-27 John 17:20-27 [20] Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [21] That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. [22] And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: [23] I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. [24] Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world. [25] O righteous Father, the world has not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. [26] And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it: that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
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) to us.

Jesus Christ is not a crucified, dead Messiah. He lives forever as the Son of God sitting at the Father’s right hand now. These last words of Christ have deep spiritual meaning as we approach Passover and as we consider all that He did in shaping the future of mankind. He is our Mediator, our Advocate and our Intercessor. He is now our perfect High Priest, our Elder Brother and our Passover.