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Jesus' Last Words

Scripture/Parables Sectn. | Jesus' Teachings | Fulfilled Prophecies

Jesus' Last Words (From the Cross)

Important Notice: Scripture references may vary. Scripture contained herein may not be comprehensive and may be categorized subjectively. We may change punctuation / capitalization and/or shorten items below. We recommend reading Scripture in full context in an appropriate Catholic Bible. Important cautionary statement

Crucifixion of Jesus


Jesus' last words, His so called "last will and testament", deserve additional consideration as they were the last things He said before His death. Not only were these words spoken by our Lord during His extreme agony on the Cross, but it is also helpful to remember that when someone coherent is nearing death, they may indicate things most heartfelt to them. Clearly, each word spoken by Jesus is important, but it is reasonable to believe that the words freely chosen by Jesus as His last (prior to death) might merit additional consideration. Therefore, these precious last phrases uttered by our Savior may make excellent passages for regular reflection. 

Jesus' Last Words From The Cross...

Consider...

Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." (Lk. 23:34)

* The great depths of Jesus' love and mercy, even towards those who unjustly mock, accuse, persecute, and torture him

* "Because the Lord had said, Pray for them that persecute you, this likewise He did, when He ascended the cross, as it follows, Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them, not that He was not able Himself to pardon them, but that He might teach us to pray for our persecutors, not only in word, but in deed also. But He says, Forgive them, if they should repent. For He is gracious to the penitent, if they are willing after so great wickedness to wash away their guilt by faith." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

[Jesus] replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk. 23:43)

* The importance of confession, repentance, and faith

* As long as one is alive, it is never too late for a penitent sinner to receive forgiveness 

* "And as every king who returns victorious carries in triumph the best of his spoils, so the Lord having despoiled the devil of a portion of his plunder, carries it with Him into Paradise." (Theophylact, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

* "[T]he Lord ever gives more than He is asked for. The thief asked that He should remember him, but our Lord answers, Verily I say to you, This day shall you be with me in Paradise." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

* "Here then might one see the Savior between the thieves weighing in the scales of justice faith, and unbelief. The devil cast Adam out of Paradise. Christ brought the thief into Paradise before the whole world, before the Apostles. By a mere word and by faith alone+ he entered into Paradise, that no one after his sins might despair of entrance. Mark the rapid change, from the cross to heaven, from condemnation to Paradise, that you may know that the Lord did it all, not with regard to the thief's good intention, but His own mercy." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

+ Note: Clearly his remarks were prompted by faith, but this faith coupled with his actions/comments are what led to his being saved. Notice that his comments (1) expressed fear of God, (2) were a confession of guilt, (3) showed acceptance of his punishment as just, and (4) were a public profession of his faith in Christ ["Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal...Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."]

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (Jn. 19:26-27)

* Jesus symbolically gives his mother to the faithful (and vice versa) [see Rv. 12:17]. This act also shows Jesus' honor and concern for His beloved mother. Note: This passage also testifies to the fact that Jesus didn't have biological brothers (as some non-Catholics mistakenly claim) since it would have been inappropriate for Jesus to give his mother to a non-relative if she had other children to care for her.

* "Mary the mother of our Lord stood before the cross of her Son. None of the Evangelists hath told me this except John. The others have related how that at our Lord's Passion the earth quaked, the heaven was overspread with darkness, the sun fled, the thief was taken into paradise after confession. John hath told us, what the others have not, how that from the cross whereon He hung, He called to His mother. He thought it a greater thing to show Him victorious over punishment, fulfilling the offices of piety to His mother, than giving the kingdom of heaven and eternal life to the thief. For if it was religious to give life to the thief, a much richer work of piety it is for a son to honor his mother with such affection. Behold, He says, your son; behold your mother. Christ made His Testament from the cross, and divided the offices of piety between the Mother and the disciples. Our Lord made not only a public, but also a domestic Testament. And this His Testament John sealed a witness worthy of such a Testator. A good testament it was, not of money, but of eternal life, which was not written with ink, but with the spirit of the living God: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Mary, as became the mother of our Lord, stood before the cross, when the Apostles fled and with pitiful eyes beheld the wounds of her Son. For she looked not on the death of the Hostage, but on the salvation of the world" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

Mt. 27:46: And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 

Mk. 15:34 And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

 

* Despite his agony, the ever-faithful Jesus doesn't doubt his Father. His cry is usually associated with Psalm 21/22, "The prayer of an innocent person":

Psalm 21/22: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them. To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me: "You relied on the LORD - let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you." Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast. Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God. Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me. They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar. Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me. As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death. Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my forlorn life from the teeth of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls. Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you: "You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel! For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out. I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him. The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!" All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage. And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.

* "He uttered this word of prophecy, that He might bear witness to the very last hour to the Old Testament, and that they might see that He honors the Father, and is not against God. And therefore too, He used the Hebrew tongue, that what He said might be intelligible to them." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

* "But it must be asked, What means this, that Christ is forsaken of God? Some, unable to explain how Christ could be forsaken of God, say that this was spoken out of humility. But you will be able clearly to comprehend His meaning if you make a comparison of the glory which He had with the Father with the shame which He despised when He endured the cross." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.] 

* "God is said to have forsaken Him in death because He exposed Him to the power of His persecutors; He withdrew His protection, but did not break the union." (Early Gloss) 

* "Or, The Savior said this as bearing about with Him our feelings, who when placed in dangers think ourselves forsaken by God. Human nature was forsaken by God because of its sins, and the Son of God becoming our Advocate laments the misery of those whose guilt He took upon Him; therein showing how they who sin ought to mourn, when He who never sinned did thus mourn." (Bl. Rabanus Maurus)  

Jn. 19:28-29: Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: "I thirst". Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar about hyssop, put it to his mouth.

[Douay-Rheims translation]

 

 

* This quotation may be a reference to Psalm 68/69, "A Cry of Anguish in Great Distress":

From Psalm 68/69: Save me, God, for the waters have reached my neck. I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold. I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause. Too many for my strength are my treacherous enemies. Must I now restore what I did not steal? God, you know my folly; my faults are not hidden from you [DR: "O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my offences are not hidden from thee" Ftn: "My foolishness and my offences... which my enemies impute to me: or the follies and sins of men, which I have taken upon myself."]. Let those who wait for you, LORD of hosts, not be shamed through me. Let those who seek you, God of Israel, not be disgraced through me. For your sake I bear insult, shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my kin, a stranger to my mother's children. Because zeal for your house consumes me, I am scorned by those who scorn you. I have wept and fasted, but this led only to scorn. I clothed myself in sackcloth; I became a byword for them. They who sit at the gate gossip about me; drunkards make me the butt of their songs. But I pray to you, LORD, for the time of your favor. God, in your great kindness answer me with your constant help. Rescue me from the mire; do not let me sink. Rescue me from my enemies and from the watery depths. Do not let the floodwaters overwhelm me, nor the deep swallow me, nor the mouth of the pit close over me. Answer me, LORD, in your generous love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; in my distress hasten to answer me. Come and ransom my life; because of my enemies redeem me. You know my reproach, my shame, my disgrace; before you stand all my foes. Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak; I looked for compassion, but there was none, for comforters, but found none. Instead they put gall in my food; for my thirst they gave me vinegar.  

* Also consider Psalm 21/22, "The Prayer of an Innocent Person":

Psalm 21/ 22: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them. To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me: "You relied on the LORD - let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you." Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast. Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God. Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me. They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar. Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me. As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death. Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my forlorn life from the teeth of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls. Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you: "You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel! For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out. I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him. The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!" All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage. And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.

* Also, consider Christ's thirst for souls and His thirst to drink the cup His Father has given him (cf. Jn. 18:11)

* "Thus the Source of living water is made to drink vinegar, the Giver of honey is fed with gall; Forgiveness is scourged, Acquittance is condemned, Majesty is mocked, Virtue ridiculed, the Bestower of showers is repaid with spitting." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

* "They were not softened at all by what they saw, but were the more enraged, and gave Him the cup to drink, as they did to criminals, i.e. with a hyssop." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

* "Vinegar is wine, which has turned sour either from neglect, or the fault of the vessel. Wine is the honor of immortality, or virtue. When this then had been turned sour in Adam, He took and drunk it at the hands of the Gentiles. It is offered to Him on a reed and a spurge; that is, He took from the bodies of the Gentiles immortality spoiled and corrupted, and transfused in Himself into a mixture of immortality that in us which was spoiled." (St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church) 

Jn. 19:30 When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

* "Then as there was nothing left Him to do before He died, it follows, And He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost, only dying when He had nothing more to do, like Him who had to lay down His life, and to take it up again." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

* "For whoever had such power to sleep when he wished, as our Lord had to die when He wished? What power must He have, for our good or evil, Who had such power dying?" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

Lk. 23:46 Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

* Christ's abandonment to His Heavenly Father

* Note that Christ begins his last utterance from the Cross with the same word He began his first, namely "Father"

* "But crying with a loud voice He gives up the ghost, because He had in Himself the power of laying down His life and taking it up again." (Theophylact, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

* "Also for this reason He cried out with a loud voice to show that this is done by His own power. For by crying out with a loud voice when dying, He showed incontestably that He was the true God; because a man in dying can scarcely utter even a feeble sound." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 

* "The flesh dies that the Spirit may rise again. The Spirit is commended to the Father, that heavenly things also may be loosed from the chain of iniquity, and peace be made in heaven, which earthly things should follow." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

* Also consider: "Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God." (Psalm 30/31:5-6)

"The cross of the Sufferer, is the chair of the Master."

(St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)


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