His Last Words
By: Mark Schatzman | April 20
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
– John 19:28 ESV
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 ESV
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 ESV
My father-in-law passed away this year. This will be my wife’s first Easter without him. She was a faithful, caring daughter as she sat with him in his last days. She didn’t want him to die alone; she wanted to hear his last words. The last words of a loved one leave an impression.
The Gospels record Jesus saying seven short sentences on the Cross. Short because of His slow suffocation. Sentences because we need to feel the weight of each noun and verb.
Dear woman, here is your son… [son,] here is your mother. (John 19:26-27 NIV84)
I am thirsty. (John 19:28)
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43 NIV84)
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
It is finished. (John 19:30)
Each of Jesus’ last words are lasting and life-giving to us. But three in particular leave an impression on me this Easter.
I am thirsty.
Such a simple statement; so normal for us. But not for God; God has never known need. He is the only all-sufficient One in the universe. He is the need-meeter, not a need-haver. Years earlier, Jesus had said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Now He hangs on a cross and asks for a sip of water. The humility of this unnerves me. But it also brings me hope. It’s another reminder that God became a man. Jesus began His earthly ministry with an infant’s cry for food and finished it with a man’s cry for water. Jesus Christ is the God-man.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
That is not a simple question. We may ask that occasionally. But God never has. We know what it’s like to be separated from God. In fact, we separated ourselves through our sin. But God the Son has never known separation from God the Father. For all eternity, the Father and Son have experienced unified joy, loving passion, and perfect fellowship. Until the Cross.
On the Cross, the sin of all humanity was poured upon Jesus. Our greed, fear, pettiness, racism, jealousy, child abuse, gossip, cruelty, anger, bitterness, lust, self-righteousness, pride, unkindness, selfishness… All placed upon Jesus. Paul said, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us…” (2 Cor 5:21). The physical pain of the Cross was intense, but the separation from His Father, on our behalf, was excruciating. Jesus Christ is the God-man who paid for our sin.
It is finished.
His last sentence is filled with both pain and hope. God declares that the sin of humanity has been paid for fully and finally. Let that sink in. Think of the most shameful thing you have ever done or thought. It didn’t take long to go there, did it? Those memories are always near the shadows of our mind. Jesus says to us, “I became that sin for you. I paid for it fully. It is now finished!”
Because of Jesus’ Cross (and resurrection), we now stand cleansed and righteous before God (1 John 1:9). This is the Good News of the Gospel! Paul declares the fullness of this Gospel, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus Christ is the God-man who paid for our sin, fully and finally.
Let’s linger on His last words on the Cross today, and celebrate together His resurrection tomorrow.