Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.
The Seven Last Words
1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
5. “ I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
The first three statements of Jesus on the Cross fill us with hope, we sense that beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross!
And then, we hear the words of Jesus, having emptied himself of all His earthly ties, hanging on the cross, suffering for the sins of all mankind—we hear His words of desolation and agony: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
Jesus’ words are important. He starts where He is centered—in God. Even in the depths of sorrow, Jesus holds onto what He knows is true: His Father, God, is His God. The relationship has not ended. Despite the pain and suffering, the relationship persists. Even though we might be tempted to question or even renounce the Lord when our suffering becomes to much to bear, wondering if He is there, wondering how He could let such pain exist, Jesus never does this. He acknowledges the power and might of the Lord, the presence of God, even in His last moments. By calling out to Him, against models for all of us that the Lord is our center, our rock, our hope.
And we must not forget this. We must have confidence in the Lord, even in the most difficult of circumstances. We must remember in our darkest moments, in the bleakest of circumstances, the Lord remains beside us, within us. We must look to Him. We must have hope.
And in calling out, He chooses His words so carefully. He understands that the Lord is His God. He understands the why of why He must die. But His is not a rhetorical question. He, in His moment of agony, is fulfilling the Scripture. He is quoting the Scripture, Psalm 22, the most accurate prediction of His death, written over 1000 years prior to His life.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;