A Dying Man’s Last Words Are Something To Think About!

“Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews.” (John 19:19)

Courts have long acknowledged that there is no greater truth than the last words of a dying man. They are rarely second-guessed by judges or juries.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, it took nearly six hours for him to die. During that time, he made seven statements. I find it interesting that the number seven in the Bible is associated with perfection, completeness. God – in the Person of Jesus – had just seven things to say before he died for our sins. Indeed, the plan of redemption was perfect.

So what did Jesus say? Well his first three statements showed us how unselfish he was. There he hung, literally fighting for his life, and the first thing he thought about was others.

First, he forgave his executioners. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Second, he assured the thief that he would see him in Paradise. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Finally, he committed his mother to the care of his good friend John. “He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’” (John 19:26-27)

Then Jesus turns to God and plainly asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) This was an honest question. Because God’s redemptive plan was at work, God turned his back on Jesus. It was the moment of Jesus’ separation from God – something all of us will face if we don’t know Jesus as our Lord and personal savior. Jesus was hanging on the cross for our sins, and our Holy God will not tolerate sin. Jesus knew that God was no longer watching over him as he lived out the final moments of his life.

Jesus fifth statement has long been a source of confusion. “I thirst,” he said. (John 19:38) If a dying man’s last words are some of the most important, why would God waste his breath to utter, “I thirst”? The best answer I have ever heard came not from a theologian but an elderly Christian who sits in my Sunday School class every Sunday. “He died a sinner and did not have access to the river of life,” he told our class. I thought about that statement and remembered something Jesus once said: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

The last two statements that Jesus made from the cross that fateful day were declarations that God’s redemptive plan was accomplished. “It is finished,” he said. (John 19:30) Then showing the world that God in the Person of Jesus was in full control, he did not just die. He decided the moment that death would come and committed his spirit in the hands of God. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Those last hours on the Cross are why Good Friday is called GOOD Friday. Jesus died to save us from our own sins, and he rose from the grave three days later so that we could have eternal life. It was a perfect plan that can be summed up in one verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

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