Jesus’ Words on the Cross

We have to look at all the Gospels to read the words Jesus said as he was hung on the cross. Luke record three sayings, John records three sayings and Mark and Matthew record the same saying. Of interest, only Mark and Matthew record the same saying. The rest are unique to either Luke or John. This is one of the differences that critics love to pick up on. They will say look, the gospels are not in agreement here so how can we trust them. Of course if all four gospels hade the identical sayings in the identical order then they would complain that they copied each other and how can we trust them. With the New Testament, it is wrong when it agrees and wrong when it disagrees. Critics hold the New Testament documents to a different standard than any other historical text.

What I find most interesting is when I talk to friends in law enforcement about eye witness testimony they find testimony that is too consistent as false and testimony with variations in details but agreement in essentials as believable. If four people witness a car accident you will get four different accounts. They will differ based on where the person was standing and what is important to that person. One may say the color of the car was black another dark blue a third dark green. All agree on the make of the car and that it ran the red light. They may disagree on minor details but the fact that the light was ran was agreed by all.

Similarly, the gospel writers may not have all heard everything that Jesus said but the all witnessed the same event. Also the writers wrote what they thought was of most interest to their audience or what in Mark’s case was of most interest to Peter. So in the traditional order let’s look at what the gospel writers recorded of Jesus’ words on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:34

The first thing that Luke records Jesus as saying on the cross is today’s verse. Jesus asks the Father to forgive the people involved in the crucifixion. Now I don’t know about you but I don’t think asking God to forgive people trying to kill me would be my first reaction. I have enough problems getting over the guy who cuts me off in traffic to think I could be this forgiving. Yet here is Jesus nailed to a cross and the first thing He says is “forgive them.”

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One mocks Jesus and tells Him to save all three of them. The other, he realizes who Jesus is and tells the other criminal that they both are paying the price for their crimes but Jesus was innocent and did not deserve to die. He then asks Jesus to remember him and Jesus declares that the criminal who believed would be with Jesus in paradise. I love this verse as it shows that all we need to be with Jesus in heaven is faith. No work, not following a set of rules, just faith.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, 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 to his own home. John 19:26-27

We turn now to John. That John is the only writer to include this saying is not much of a mystery. Jesus was speaking directly to Mary and John. Here is a man dying on a cross and He is concerned with making sure His mother is taken care of. Of the seven sayings on the cross this is the one I think most sons can relate to. We would all want a trusted friend to take care of our mother. Still it shows that Jesus was more concerned with the welfare of others and not His own fate.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Mark 15:34

What a powerful verse. Jesus who has had the sin of the whole world put upon Him cries out to God. Every sin that had ever been and every sin that ever will be has been poured on Jesus. So much sin that a holy God cannot look upon it and the one that bears those sins. God had to sacrifice His Son to let Him die to let Him take the punishment for these sins so that you and I can be reconciled with God. The punishment for sin is death and separation from God. Jesus paid that price for us so we would not have to pay it.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” John 19:28

In the gospel accounts we read that the Roman soldiers put some wine vinegar on a hyssop branch and lifted it up to Jesus to drink. Here in John we see the reason. This saying is near the end. Jesus said and did many things to fulfill scripture, this is one. Jesus had been on the cross for hours. It was midday and hot. He had lost so much fluid from the scourging and the nails and now He asks for a drink. Here we see the human nature of Jesus. Fully God, fully human hanging on a cross.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

Three words. Such a short sentence and yet in those three words lays the eternal salvation of all who believe. When we read “it is finished” the English translation does not do the verse justice. The Greek word John used for finished was tetelestai (τετέλεσται). This word literally meant paid in full. It was what was written on a bill when the final payment was made. The debt was discharged. Maybe the verse should read “it is paid in full”. Possible then people would stop trying to add to the finished work of the cross.

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

Jesus’ work on the cross is done. The price for mankind’s sins has now been paid and God is ready to welcome His Son back into His presence. Jesus who willing went to a death on the cross now willingly ends His life. He takes His final breath is taken and it is completed. Now we wait. Jesus has paid the price for sin. Sin has been conquered. He now has another foe to conquer, death. Within the span of three days Jesus will pay the price of all sins and conquer death. My Lord and my God.

Have a blessed day,



About dwwork

The name of this blog is taken from 1 Peter 3:13 - “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience. This verse became special to me over ten years ago when I was asked to teach an adult Sunday school class on Christian apologetics. This interest grew over the years to the point that I took some graduate level classes in apologetics. I think the best way to be prepared to give and answer to everyone who asks is to know scripture. It is my hope that through these short devotionals the reader will become more familiar with each verse. I have tried when possible to make them personal hoping in some small way to show that God’s word written over two thousand years ago is still relevant today. In the writing of these short devotionals I have been able to better understand how God’s word impacts my life. It is my hope that you too will come closer to our Lord Jesus and develop a closer relationship with Him. Finally, if the reader finds anything in conflict with scripture please let me know. God’s word is the final authority always overrules anything I might write. David
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Bible, Comentary, Devotional, Easter, God. Bookmark the permalink.

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