What did Jesus say on the cross?You don’t have to be a “card-carrying Christian” to know what the cross represents. What was once a device of execution for the Romans has become the symbol of Christianity because of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That moment in history, which is well documented both in the Bible and in other historical literature, changed the course of humanity. Jesus showed by His actions how much God loved the world. But, we can also gain a tremendous amount of insight by His words. What did Jesus say on the cross? The accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus in the Bible can be found in these chapters – Matthew 27, Luke 23, John 19, Mark 15 The 7 last sayings of Jesus on the cross teach us a lot about God and ourselves. Let’s take a look.
Sayings of Jesus on the cross #1: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34In Luke 23:34, Jesus makes a statement that can humble us all. He was betrayed. He was beaten and spit on. The Roman Guards gambled for His belongings as He suffered. When it seemed like the world was against Him (it was), His heart was to request this one thing. What did Jesus say on the cross about those who would persecute Him? Forgive them. How many of us hold grudges for lesser offenses? Some of us neglect to talk to old friends and family members because of past hurts. But, the example of Jesus is one for us all to consider. Jesus, the Son of God, being whipped, scourged, and humiliated, chose forgiveness. “Forgive them”, one of the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross, is so powerful. What if we too chose forgiveness? Unforgiveness is often a greater punishment to ourselves than it is for the very people against whom we are holding a grudge.
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.” Marianne WilliamsenForgiveness doesn’t always mean letting a person have influence in your life. But understand, unforgiveness is a detriment to your destiny. It holds you back. Forgiveness can be broken down into these 2 actions.
- Giving the pain over to God and asking Him to intercede on behalf of the person that hurt you
- Deciding to continue with the purpose that God has for your life uninhibited by ill feelings toward a person or group of people
Sayings of Jesus on the cross #2: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” Luke 23:43Many of us have heard this account. Jesus wasn’t the only man condemned to die that fateful day. To both, His left and right were thieves that were also to be executed. We find two very different experiences. One thief mocks Jesus and challenges Him as to whether or not He was the Messiah.
The other criminal, however, makes a heartfelt statement on behalf of Jesus.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” Luke 23:39
The criminal takes 3 crucial steps in the life of any follower of Jesus. First, He has a reverence for God (healthy fear and respect). Next, he acknowledges his own faults and imperfect nature. The criminal then takes the final step toward His salvation and that is confessing Jesus as Lord.
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 40:40-41
“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 40:42The condemned man declared Jesus as Lord and acknowledged that He, in fact, was King. He not only says “Jesus You are Lord” but also “Take me with You”. What did Jesus say on the cross to the thief who repented? He answered him:
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 40:43The criminal could do nothing to help himself but by calling on the Name of Jesus, He was saved!
Sayings of Jesus on the Cross #3: “Woman, behold your son,” John 19:26 – 27In the Gospel of the Apostle John, we see a moment where Jesus looks down at two people He loved very much throughout His time here on earth. The Savior gazes upon John and His beloved mother. He appoints his disciple with a very honorable task.
This has significance for 2 reasons. First, we see that although Jesus suffered greatly, He was never far from loving His mother. Second, the law required that the first-born son care for the parents. Throughout Jesus’ life, He obeyed the law. By looking at what did Jesus say on the cross, we can see He remained obedient to the Father until the point of death. Remember, Jesus was very clear on His respect for the law. This is because He came to fulfill it.
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26 – 27
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Matt 5:17
Sayings of Jesus on the Cross #4: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matt 27:46To many, this is the most jarring Scripture in the Bible. We see Jesus suffer many things. He is beaten, tortured, mocked, and spit on. The Savior is whipped, pierced with a crown of thorns, and then with nails in His hands and feet. At the height of His agony, what did Jesus say on the cross?
Did God abandon Jesus? Did He commit the sin of doubt in His final moments while on the cross? This is what many interpret from Jesus’s word. However, there is great evidence that this was not a cry of separation but actually a song of worship. Many believe that the most accurate interpretation of this saying of Jesus on the cross is that He was quoting straight out of the sacred hymns of the psalms. Imagine that. In the midst of all His struggle, Jesus chose to praise. Imagine if we followed His lead in our own lives? Check out this article to learn more about why Jesus said “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?”.
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matt 27:46
Sayings of Jesus on the Cross #5: “I thirst” John 19:28What did Jesus say on the cross that also captures the essence of both His humanity and His suffering? Jesus said, “I thirst”. These two humble, yet powerful, words are a stark reminder that what our Lord endured was very real. He not only bore the sins of the world (Something only God could do) but also as His earthly body deteriorated, He felt incredible pain and discomfort.
Jesus was spared no anguish in His mission to save the world and usher in eternal life. This is yet another expression of the depths of God’s love for us all.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28
Sayings of Jesus on the Cross #6: “It is finished” John 19:30The 6th statement that Jesus said on the cross is one that every believer can stand on for confidence in their walk with God. Mark 15:37 tells us Jesus let out a loud cry. That loud cry, according to scholars could have been the powerful words “It is finished.” These may be the most powerful words ever spoken. This single statement signifies the fulfillment of all the promises of God. The Father declared a plan for redemption as far back as the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:5). If you were an onlooker that day you may have thought Jesus’ ministry was destroyed, but what did Jesus say on the cross? “It is finished” is translated in Koine Greek as “Tetelestai”. Tetelestai in some ancient applications was used in commerce to signify a debt was paid in full. The phrase “It is finished” also had significance in the Jewish ceremony on the Day of Atonement. When the Priest declared these words, it signified that the sins of the people were forgiven for a season. Jesus’ death, however, was the final eternal sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Jesus bore the sentence of all of our sins. The price for every mistake and transgression was completely paid in full. He fulfilled the law and destroyed the works of the devil once and for all. “It is finished” is more than a saying, it is a battle cry for every Christian. The wages of sin may be death, but with the sacrifice of Jesus, we have life and have in with abundance! We no longer need to fear death.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death Hebrews 2:13-15
Sayings of Jesus on the Cross #7: “Father, into Your Hands I commit my Spirit.” Luke 23:46What did Jesus say on the cross in His final moments? He said, “Father, into Your Hands, I commit My Spirit.” This final exclamation can only be summed up by one word. That word is “willingness”. Jesus was willing to die and gave Himself over when He could have made a different decision. When you look at the words of Jesus, there was no mistake about His authority. Consider what He told the Apostle Peter and also Pontius Pilate. Jesus to Peter upon His arrest:
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:53Jesus knew the upcoming events had a purpose that was more important than the pain. Therefore, He chose to allow it. Jesus to Pontius Pilate as His fate was being decided:
Pontius Pilate was one of the most powerful men in that region. Imagine being in the office of your Governor and saying “You have no authority over me.” This is knowing that the Governor has the final say in many of the State’s legislative matters. He or she can command the State Police and even the National Guard. Yet, there is a boldness and Jesus that comes from very important places. Those places are authority and the willingness to follow through. Jesus was in control and once He knew He had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and was clearly the Messiah that all of Israel had hoped for called out in a loud voice these important words.
Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11
Jesus willingly suffered and died. He did it at the cross not only because it was God’s will at the moment, but it was God’s will from the beginning of time.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. John 19:11
Here’s what other’s said at the crossWith Jesus’s last breath came a great earthquake. The veil in the temple tore completely in half. Those around Him saw what He had said and done along with the signs that followed and were amazed. 3 the Gospels point to the Roman Guard who stood by making a bold statement at the foot of the cross.
Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:39 show the soldier declaring that He “truly was the son of God” while Luke 23:47 tells us a guard said, “certainly this man was innocent.” We are unclear whether these were accounts of 2 statements from one guard or declarations from multiple Centaurians on the scene. What we do know is that the death of Jesus immediately impacted eyewitnesses. The same guards that were mocking, abusing Him, and gambling for His clothes were now expressing words of praise.This is an amazing example that if we choose to follow God’s Will through the tough times, even those who are enemies to us will marvel at the God inside of us. Don’t ever give up!
What did Jesus say on the cross? | A recap of the sayings of JesusEvery one of our lives would be changed if we just considered the sayings of Jesus and ask “What did Jesus say on the cross?” Here are some takeaways from the sayings of Jesus on the cross that if applied to your own life could change you forever.
- “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) Jesus leads by example in both forgiving and praying for your enemies. Can you forgive those who have persecuted you?
- “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) He makes a way for all who call on His Name Will you be like that thief and make a decision today to say “I want to be with you, Jesus”?
- “Woman, behold your son” (John 19:26-27) Jesus cared deeply for His family and putting God’s will first. When it gets tough, are you willing to focus on caring for those around you and following the will of God?
- “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matthew 27:46) At His most difficult moment, Jesus turned His attention toward Heaven. He cried out not with complaints, but with a song of praise. Can you praise God and remember that He is faithful to His children, even in your toughest moments?
- “I thirst” (John 19:28) Jesus suffered for the greater good. Are you willing to go through discomfort to accomplish what God has for your life?
- “It is finished” John (19:30) Jesus followed through to complete His mission. So many quit short of our victory. Are you willing to finish what you start for Jesus?
- “Father, into Your Hands I commit my Spirit” (Luke 23:46) Jesus willingly gave His life for us. Is it time to put your life completely into the Hands of God?