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) (link)
5. “I thirst.” (John 19:29) (link)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
And then Jesus speaks and says, “It is finished.”
Is this the moment of despair for us? Is this the moment of hopelessness?
“I am finished.” He says, “It is finished,” and in doing so, completes His work on earth. It is not the whimper of failure or the agony of defeat. It is a cry of victory! In Jesus’ last words, He tells us that His work on earth is done, and ours is just beginning. He has, through his sacrifice on the cross, shown us a perfect, enduring love—a love unlike any other—and in the process granted us the eternity to experience that love.
21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus is finished. He has come into the world, preached, been tortured and humiliated, and now He is ready to die, knowing that He has saved us. As they nailed Our Savior to the cross, our sins were pounded into the wood as well. He carried those sins up the steep climb to Golgatha, and held them in His heart, suffering for all mankind. And in doing so, he redeemed us. He showed us perfect love—a love that we can never be separated from.
38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Upon the cross, having fulfilled the prophesies, having died for our sins, Jesus is victorious. His work is finished. But we are unfinished. We are not perfect. We cannot even begin to approximate the perfection of God’s love for us. But we are called to keep trying. That is not to say that we can improve upon Jesus’ earthly work of salvation—there is no way we could. He exchanged our sinfulness for His life, and we are all the better for it. Because of what He finished, we will remain “unfinished”—perfectly unfinished—until we join the Lord in heaven and we are completed by His grace. At that time, we, too, can shout victoriously, “it is finished!” confident in the Lord’s love for us, acceptance of us, and His pleasure in our faith. Our time on earth may be finished, but we will have accomplished the Lord’s plan for us, and will have eternity to share in His perfect love in heaven.
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12)