Seven Sayings of Christ
on The Cross
Jesus spoke seven time while He was on the cross suffering. We know the Jews were present to satisfy their craving His death. The Roman soldiers were there performing their duty. But the Spirit notices a small group drawn there by their devotion to Jesus – John 19:25. A pitiably small company, four women and also John the beloved is mentioned in verse 26. Five is the number of grace. They “stood by the cross.” No doubt in anguish of spirit as they beheld the dying Lamb.
We must compare the four gospel accounts to give us the order of the seven saying. One may wonder why some things are recorded in one gospel and may not be in the others. But the Holy Spirit moved the writers of the four gospels to write as they did. Matthew wrote of Him as King, Mark tells of Him as the perfect servant, Luke of Him as man, and John tells of Him as the heavenly One.
His first saying in found in Luke 23:32-34. Jesus intercedes for mankind’s spiritual ignorance. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” What love! “He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” - Jn. 1:10-1.
Luke 23:32,37-43, two thief were crucified at the same time. One railed on Him, but the other confessed his sin and believed on Him, calling Jesus his “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” The outcast is received, Jesus speaks the second saying, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
John 19:26-27 records His third saying, Jesus care of His mother. “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” There is no hysterical demonstration of sorrow from Mary, in fact, not a word is recorded from her lips by any of the four gospels. She suffered in silence, yet bound by love. She may have remembered the prophetic words spoken by Simeon 30 years before: “Yet, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also” – Luke 2:35. Mary’s name means bitterness. The world has cast out the child of her womb, she is paralyzed at His sufferings. His disciples all but John had deserted Him. The nation despise Him and the insults of the crowd surround her. All the while the soldiers were callously occupied with His garment and the Savior was bleeding; yet she stood by the cross. At such a time, He showed Himself both the perfect Son of God and perfect Son of man. Leaving this world, He provides a home for His widowed mother. Here is where our Lord lays aside His human affections, for His death ended all natural ties. From then on, the believers would be linked to Christ by a closer bond, by a spiritual relationship.
These first three hours on the cross, Jesus had conscious communion and fellowship with His Father. That changes, Matthew 27:45-46, “Now from the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour (3:00). And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (the fourth saying). Even nature reacts to such a sight, the creator of all things hanging between heaven and earth, rejected by both. The world cast Him out and God the Father had to turn away from His Son being made sin. Jesus had never experienced broken fellowship with His Father. In John 8:29, He testified of Himself, saying, “He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left Me alone, for I do always those things that please Him.”
He suffers separation from His Father that all who believe may be joined to God. II Cor. 5:21, “He was made sin, that knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Those who reject God’s love gift of His Son to the world will know outer darkness forever. We know by scripture that our Lord answered His own cry, “Why hath thou forsaken Me?” Psalm 22 tells the thoughts of His heart while on the cross. Verse 3, “But Thou art holy, Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
When the darkness disappears He declares, “I thirst,” (the fifth saying, John 19:28), evidence of His humanity. He was the God-man, forever God and now forever man by His own choice. When the eternal Word became flesh and blood, He did not cease to be God. Here in the depths of His humiliation, His body drained of moisture – He said, “I thirst.” He had endured the fierceness of the outpoured wrath of the holy God, His cry, tells of the intensity of what He had suffered and the awful severity of the conflict He had just passed. Lamentations 1:13, “He hath made Me desolate and faint.” He makes known His need, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Psalm 32:4, “My moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” Psalm 69:21, “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” He thirsted on the cross, that we might drink the water of life and thirst no more forever.
All things now accomplished, He had hung on the cross for 6 hours and had passed through unparallel suffering. John 19:30, He said, “It is finished” (the sixth saying). It will take all eternity to manifest all it contains. This is not a despairing cry of helplessness, but an expression of satisfaction. For all which He came from heaven was now done. The glorious character of God had been accomplished and everything necessary for the putting away of the sins of His people, providing a perfect standing before God and securing for them an eternal inheritance.
In Luke 23:46 we read the seventh saying – “when Jesus had cried with a loud voice (no doubt, It is finish), He said, Father into thy hands, I commend My spirit: and having said thus, He dismissed His spirit. His work was done, He had conquered. God salvation has been provided for all by His death. The veil in the temple (into the holy of holies) rent in twain from top to bottom (Mk. 15:38). Heaven now opened to man, that he may approach God as His heavenly Father.
E. J. Davis