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Read meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ prepared by Sister Claudina Sanz, OSP.

MEDITATIONS ON THE SEVEN
LAST WORDS OF CHRIST

Sr. Claudina Sanz

 

INTRODUCTION

Every year during the season of Lent we Christians meditate on the death and suffering of Jesus. He suffered a humiliating and bloody death on the cross – by crucifixion. We stop to meditate on the intensity of Jesus’ suffering. Before we rush into the celebration of the Resurrection and Easter let us take some time to meditate on Jesus.

Let us take some time to meditate on Jesus – HIS SEVEN LAST WORDS from the cross – so we can better understand Resurrection Sunday

 

THE FIRST WORD

“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.” (Luke 23:34)

Jesus cries out in prayer to His Heavenly Father and asks him to forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. This intercession to his Heavenly Father from the cross in the midst of intense suffering and pain shows Jesus’ intimate relationship with His Father. Jesus knew He was doing His Father’s will. With nails in his hands and feet, He defends these criminals. He is looking beyond the atrocity these men are committing to seeing and realizing their human nature.

SCRIPTURE MUST BE FULFILLED.

In his deep suffering and pain, Jesus can see our human weakness and we are judged by our hearts and not just our actions (Jeremiah: 17:10). For example: Peter’s impulsive nature and yet He charges Peter to “feed his sheep” (John 21).

This intercession from the cross includes humanity, it includes us. Jesus can see past the sin and can see our need for healing and forgiveness. In our daily undertakings we forget and callously offend and deny Jesus. Yet he intercedes for us – “Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.”

 

THE SECOND WORD

“TRULY I SAY TO YOU, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE” (Luke 23:43)

The second word of Jesus on the cross “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” is found in the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 23:43. This saying is addressed to one of the criminals crucified alongside Jesus.

Jesus was blameless, without sin and guiltless, yet was classified with these two criminals to suffer a horrific death. The repentant criminal, realizing that Jesus had done nothing wrong and was undeserving of the same punishment as they, in humility pleads “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

“Truly, I tell you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise.” With this statement, Jesus expresses an amazing promise to the repentant criminal. Jesus assures him that “today”, meaning immediately after their death, they will enter Paradise.

One criminal believed, one did not. Jesus promises salvation to the repentant criminal “You will be with me in Paradise.” In like manner, Jesus gives us salvation by grace.

SALVATION IS ALL ABOUT GRACE.

 

THE THIRD WORD

“WOMAN HERE IS YOUR SON, SON HERE IS YOUR MOTHER” (John 19: 26-27)

The third word of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John, specifically in John 19: 26-27. This saying is significant for several reasons.

Despite enduring immense suffering and pain, Jesus was concerned about the well-being of his mother, Mary. By entrusting her care to the beloved disciple, Jesus fulfills his duty as a devoted son and also establishes a bond between his disciples and humanity.

This saying also carries symbolic significance. Mary is seen as a representative figure of the Church.

MARY IS THE MEDIATRIX OF THE CHURCH.

This saying highlights the humanity of Jesus, showing his compassion, empathy, and concern for others. It exemplifies Jesus’ teaching of love and selflessness, encouraging us to follow his example in caring for one another.

 

THE FOURTH WORD

“MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27:46)

About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) THIS IS A CRY OF ABANDONMENT. Jesus feels abandoned by His Father. Experiencing such great suffering and pain on the cross He feels separated from His Father. Yet he is intent on doing His Father’s will.

“NOT MY WILL BUT THINE BE DONE.”

Jesus took our sins upon himself at this moment. The Father could not be with him. Habakuk 1:13 says “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor.”

As Jesus hung there on the cross at this moment, he was bearing the sins of the world. He was dying and sacrificing his life for us, for the sins of humanity.

 

THE FIFTH WORD

“I THIRST.” (John 19:28)

Jesus’ thirst is threefold.

First, in reference to the Messianic prophecy “They put gall in my food and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Second, sometimes it can be easy to forget that Jesus experienced real, unimaginable physical suffering. He fully experienced pain, hunger, and thirst. Hours spent in the sun on his way to Calvary must have created dehydration.

Third, Jesus’ divinity thirsts for our soul, thirsts for love of God, thirst for love of one another. Jesus longs for the day when we will all be with him in our heavenly Kingdom for all eternity.

 

THE SIXTH WORD

“IT IS FINISHED.” (John 19:30)

In this word we hear a total obedience to the work His Father sent Him to do.

His Father sent Him to:

  • Teach the Gospel
  • Perform miracles
  • Achieve reconciliation for His people

All this Jesus fulfilled and more. With these profound words “It is finished.” Jesus’ work is done, Jesus’ work is perfect, Jesus’ work is complete, Jesus’ work is paid in full.

The debt of sin is paid with His shedding of blood on the cross. His crucifixion and death completes the Old Testament prophesies foreshadowed about himself.

Hebrews 9:12 says “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the most Holy Place once and for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”

 

THE SEVENTH WORD

AND JESUS, CRYING OUT IN A LOUD VOICE, SAID, “INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT.” (Luke 23:46)

A SHOUT OF VICTORY

With these words He gave up His last. Jesus willingly gave up His life – He surrendered! These seven last words explain that Jesus was intent on doing His Father’s will. Through His life and ministry, He worked to carry out His Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemani, He asked His Father to take this “cup of suffering” away from Him but added “Not my will but Yours be done.” (Matthew 36: 56)

Jesus accepted the suffering of the cross because He knew this was His Father’s will for Him. He was prepared to die.

Jesus died confidently.

Jesus died willingly.

Jesus died triumphantly.

Jesy died to fulfill the prophesy.

They did not break his legs when they saw he was already dead.

JESUS REALLY DIED

 

IN CLOSING

These last phrases give insight into Jesus’ heart, mission, experience, and love for us. Each phrase teaches about Jesus’ ability to emphasize our humanity. They demonstrate his unwavering commitment to His Father’s will and His complete fulfillment of the prophesies found in scriptures,

As you prepare your hearts to celebrate this Easter, meditate on these Seven Last Words and let their messages deepen your love for the amazing God we serve.

AMEN