The Last 7 Words of Jesus: A Lenten Meditation


To many, the Passion of Jesus Christ is a lesson in history where we sympathize with Christ for the sufferings he went through before he died. We find it hard to believe how the people can be so cruel as to inflict the most severe form of pain on a man who we know was innocent. For Christians the Passion should be more than a lesson in history. It should become a lesson in life, teaching us how to stand up for truth and justice.”  - Pope Francis

jesus-christ-cross-2

Lent is a time that the Universal Church reflects on Christ’s Passion and Death in an intensely focused way. After Jesus was nailed to the cross, He spoke 7 short expressions. These statements are now commonly referred to as the “The Seven Last Words”. These words are recounted in Sacred Scripture and are found throughout the four Gospels.

Few Christians can recall all seven of Our Lord’s last words on the Cross. As you contemplate His Passion and Death this season, remember that these words, although spoken nearly 2,000 years ago at Calvary, were meant for every generation. Nothing our Lord said or did was without meaning. Prepare your hearts this Lenten season by reflecting on the Seven Last Words of Christ and consider incorporating this reflection into your Lenten practices.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

FIRST WORD

“Father, forgive them , for they know not what they do.” Luke 23: 34

The first words that Jesus spoke after being nailed to the cross were ones of forgiveness.  The timing of this suggests that Jesus was referring to those enemies – the soldiers, those who mocked, scourged, tortured, and nailed him to the cross. Even though his enemies did not recognize Him as the Messiah, Christ displays his limitless compassion.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

SECOND WORD

“Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23: 43

Christ says these words to a man who is being crucified next to him. Just like the first word, His second is that of forgiveness. God generously opens the door to heaven for those who will to repent of their sins. The sinner recognized Christ for who he was. The mercy of God is always ready to reach out to and save a soul, even at the last minute.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

THIRD WORD

“When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother.” John 19: 26-27

Yet again Jesus is continuously compassionate to those around him, making sure that his Mother is cared for after his death. Most scholars speculate that Mary was a widower at the time of the crucifixion. The good son Jesus, without brothers and sisters to provide for his Mother, looks to John to care for her. Just as Christ gave His mother to John, he gives Mother Mary to us.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

FOURTH WORD

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying:Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt 27:46

The last 4 words were uttered shortly before His death. This is the only passage where the original Aramaic language is preserved. Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment. God placed the sins of the entire world on Him, which overwhelms the humanity of Jesus. His followers, once at His side, are nowhere to be found. Jesus lives the human experience, and it was by His death that we are redeemed.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

FIFTH WORD

“Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst.” John 19:28

Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus was prepared a drink of wine and myrrh. It was customary in those days to prepare an anesthetic drink for those about to be crucified. To appease the soldiers Jesus took a sip, but it was not enough to deaden the pain. In this passage He prompted the guards for his final drink, this one consisting of vinegar and water. He was scourged, crowned with thorns, walked the Way of the Cross, and was nailed to the Cross.  Among His seven last words, this is the only verbal expression of his physical suffering.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

SIXTH WORD

“Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated.” John 19:30

Amazingly, Jesus is still conscious after hours of being on the cross. This expression, “It is finished”, did not simply mean that death was upon him, but rather that He fulfilled his mission. His preaching, miracles, and finally His earthly suffering would soon be over. His ministry and resulting death would pay the debt of sin.

grunge-cross-tattoo-sample

SEVENTH WORD

“And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.” Luke 23:46

These are the last words Jesus spoke on the Cross before His final breath. Jesus is willingly giving up His soul to His Father in Heaven. Jesus has been obedient to His father in heaven. It is here that the Lamb of God has been slain for our sins. By contemplating this and all the last words of Jesus we can better appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Meditate on Our Lord’s words and include it as part  of your Lenten preparation.


About Laura Jean

Laura Jean is a cradle Catholic who grew up in the frozen tundra of Minneapolis, MN. Searching for warmer weather she flew south and attended Belmont Abbey College. There, she cultivated a deeper love for Our Mother Mary, southern life, and a boy named Nicholas who will soon be her husband. She was instructed by her loving folks to grow her faith and when possible to share it, a mission she is now working to accomplish at The Catholic Company. Follow her on Google+.
This entry was posted in Holy Day / Feast Day, Prayer and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Last 7 Words of Jesus: A Lenten Meditation

  1. Katharine says:

    Thank you. I know these words by heart, but need to hear them more often to remember how very much, what an amazing gift, our Savior gave us.

  2. Sue Sanford says:

    It’s been at least 25 years since I’ve been to confession and recently just got the courage to go. However, I don’t know how to begin with counting how many times I’ve comited a sin or even to remember them all over the years! I’m very embarrassed to go but really do want to go. Can you help me out with any of this? I don’t know anyone to ask? Thankyou so much!

  3. Sue,

    Having the desire to go to Confession is a good start! Before going, make an examination of conscience (see this post as a guide: 99 Questions). When you begin your confession, tell the priest how many years it has been. Don’t be afraid of getting stuck or going blank; the priest will be helpful and understanding. When you confess each sin, you can let him know that you are unsure how many times you’ve committed it. Try to be as specific as you can, but otherwise you may use estimates such as “often,” “every day” or “once or twice over the years.” At the end, when you have confessed every serious sin you can think of, you might say something like, “I am truly sorry for these sins and for any that I may have committed but do not remember.” Once you make the decision to go, you will be so glad you did – the graces from confession are incredible.

  4. Sr. Jannette Marie Pruitt OSF says:

    This is a great meditation during Lent. A good tool for group discussion.

  5. John says:

    ONE OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GIFTS THAT JESUS GAVE TO US WAS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION. IT ALLOWS US TO FACE OUR SINFUL WAYS, AND ASK FOR OUR LORDS FORGIVENESS. DON’T HESITATE OUT OF EMBARASSMENT OR GUILT,BUT FACE YOUR SINS,IF YOU ARE TRULY SORRY GOD WILL MOST CERTAINLY FORGIVE YOU. IF HE COULD GIVE HIS OWN SON,HIMSELF, UP AS A SACRIFICE FOR ALL OF OUR SINS THEN HE WILL WELCOME YOU BACK INTO HIS LOVE AND PROTECTION…

  6. pedro a colon says:

    i have to talk about the 6th wod of christ and do not know wher to start can anybody help

  7. Robert Fink says:

    Pedro,

    “It is consummated.” I think this is the most interesting of the last words. Here are two of the many ways you could present it.

    First, Christ was announcing the consummation of His marriage to His bride, the Church. Chapter 766 of the CCC reads,

    “The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. “The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.” “For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.’ “As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.”

    This understanding of total self-giving to one’s bride is reflected by St. Paul in Eph 5:25. If you want to develop this facet, I recommend John Martignoni’s free download at http://www.biblechristiansociety.com titled “Marriage and the Eucharist.”

    A second way to present it is explained in “The Fourth Cup.” At the Last Supper, Jesus was celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover. By Jesus’ time, the Passover tradition had grown into a well-defined ritual known as the Seder. Jews still follow this ritual today. There are four cups of wine that the Jews drank during the 15 steps of the Seder with prayers, songs, and food interspersed among them. At the Last Supper, Jesus presumably went through the familiar order of the celebration up through the blessing of the bread and the third cup–the cup of blessing.

    After the third cup, in Mathew 26:29 Jesus says, “I tell you, I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day I drink it with you new in the Kingdom of my Father.” And in verse 30, “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” This is almost verbatim of Mark 14:25-26, and Luke 22:18. It would make sense that the hymn they sung was the Great Hallel (Psalms 113-118) which is sung before the fourth cup. What wouldn’t make sense to Jews of the day (or even today) would be that they didn’t drink the fourth cup—the cup of consummation—the climax of the entire celebration. Jesus makes the omission all the more conspicuous by announcing, “I shall not drink,” and then going out to the Mount of Olives thus interrupting the Passover celebration. It is after the fourth cup that the presiding Levitical priest would proclaim, “Tel telesti,” which means “It is consummated” or “It is finished.” Until that announcement, the Passover celebration is not complete. Therefore, Jesus effectively postponed the completion of the Passover sacrifice.

    Then during the agony in the garden, Jesus said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). To what cup is He referring? Possibly the fourth cup that He conspicuously omitted.

    As far as we know Christ was true to His word and did not drink throughout the betrayal, His imprisonment, His condemnation, the scourging, taking up His cross, etc. In Mark 15:23, we are told, “They gave Him wine drugged with myrrh, but He did not take it.”

    When Jesus says, “I thirst” in John 19:28, He is offered wine on a sprig of hyssop. Obviously, Jesus had been hungry, thirsty, and racked with pain for quite some time, but He waits until this moment to say, “I thirst.” Jesus took the wine (which was raised on a hyssop branch), and then said, “It is finished” (or consummated) in John 19:30. He had finally drunk of the fourth cup, and then He gave up His spirit. The Passover sacrifice that had been postponed from the previous day was finally finished.

    You can get a much better and more thorough description in several places–I rcommend http://www.the4thcup.com and Brant Pitre’s Book “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” Also, I think Scott Hahn has a CD titled “The Fourth Cup.”

  8. pedro a colon says:

    robert fink thank for the info great help are you from around here i live in pa

  9. Joshua Owen says:

    Hi Robert Fink,I will talk about the first word please help and give me some inputs or idea about the first Word of Jesus,IN the last seven words od Jesus.Many thanks and God bless!Josh

  10. I went to the Sacrament of Confession a few years ago, after being away from the Church for years and years. I felt free, it was the best feeling in the world. After this I was also blessed by, what I believe, may have been Signal Graces. This was after I started saying the Holy Rosary Daily. I also had a similar experience after completing my first full set of ie five in number, First Saturday Devotions. (as requested by Our Lady of Fatima) I have recently embarked on the second, which I promised Our Lady I would do for as long as I was able physically. For Lent I am saying two Rosaries a day. I know Our Lord has forgiven me, I feel it, I sense it, and I just know it, and I certainly trust in Him. Our Lady and Our Lord has granted me so many of my requests, all one has to do is ask.

  11. On the Last Seven Words of Jesus. This really puts things into the true perspective of just what Our Lord went through for us.
    Jesus I trust in Thee!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>