The Seven Last Sayings

It’s the time of the year again when we have a particular “holy week”, set apart to remember the passion of Christ and His death upon the cross. For some, it’s a yearly event marked with penitence and other traditional stuff. But for the true people of God, we do not only commemorate it once a year but as often on the LORD’s Supper which was instituted by Himto be observed in His churches to the end of the age as a perpetual remembrance and display of the sacrifice of Himself in his death (1689 LBCF ch. 30, par. 1). We also celebrate the resurrection of the Savior or what they call the “Easter”, again not once a year only but every LORD’s day as the Christian Sabbath.

Nevertheless, it is still a beneficial exercise of our soul to spend this “holy week” with serious meditation and contemplation upon the cross.

There are two great works on this subject that are worthy of our attention.

The first one is from the Puritan John Flavel1 (1628-1691). It may be a challenging read for some (well, that’s normal when you are reading a Puritan), but it is suffused with deep words about the cross that will transport you back to the Calvary. Most of the greatest writings about the cross come from the Puritans. Joel Beeke says, “If you would know Christ better and love Him more fully, immerse yourself in Puritan literature.”2

The second one is from A.W Pink3 (April 1886 – July 1952), who was born today. This is an easier read. John MacArthur once said about him, “He was at his best whenever he wrote about Christ, and he was never more focused, more thorough, or more compelling then when he proclaimed Christ crucified.”4

Let me share with you quotations from two great works on the Seven Sayings or Utterances of Christ (the outline below is a combination of the major headings of the two works on the subject).

1. The first Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Forgiveness
34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing His garments among themselves.—Luke 23:34


Forgiveness is not only a mercy, a spiritual mercy, but one of the greatest mercies a soul can obtain from God, without which, whatever else we have from God, is no mercy to us.


In praying for His enemies, not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong and hate us, but He also taught us never to regard any as beyond the reach of prayer. If Christ prayed for His murderers then surely we have encouragement to pray now for the very chief of sinners! Christian reader, never lose hope.
2. The Second Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Salvation
42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”— Luke 23:42-43


The person to whom Christ makes this excellent and glorious promise: it was to one that had lived lewdly and profanely; a very vile and wretched man, in all the former part of his time, and, for his wickedness, now justly under condemnation; yes, to one that had reviled Christ, after that sentence was executed on him. However, now at last the Lord gave him a penitent believing heart. Now, almost at the last gasp, he is soundly, in an extraordinary way converted; and, being converted, he owns and professes Christ amidst all the shame and reproach of his death; vindicates his innocence, and humbly supplicates for mercy; "Lord, remember me when you comest into your kingdom." 


...was not the Saviour numbered with transgressors to show us the position He occupied as our substitute? He had taken the place which was due us, and what was that but the place of shame, the place of transgressors, the place of criminals condemned to death!
3. The Third Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Affection
25 Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”—John 19:25a-26


Has Jesus Christ given such a famous pattern of obedience and tenderness to parents? Then there can be nothing of Christ in stubborn, rebellious, and careless children, that regard not the good or comfort of their parents. The children of disobedience cannot be the children of God.


On the Cross we behold His tender care and solicitude for His mother, and in this we have the pattern of Jesus Christ presented to all children for their imitation, teaching them how to acquit themselves toward their parents according to the laws of nature and grace... 

The very Gospel which most of all shows Him to be God, is here careful to prove He was man—the Word made flesh. Engaged as He was in a divine transaction, making atonement for all the sins of all His people, grappling with the powers of darkness—yet amid it all, He has still the same human tenderness, which shows the perfection of the Man Jesus Christ.
4. The Fourth Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Anguish
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabaktanei?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”— Matthew 27:46


This is the desert of every sin, and the damned do feel it, and shall to all eternity: God is gone from them forever, not essentially; the just God is with them still, the God of power is still with them, the avenging God is ever with them; but the merciful God is gone, and gone forever. And thus would he have withdrawn himself from every soul that sinned, had not Christ borne that punishment for us in his own soul: If he had not cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" we must have howled out this hideous complaint in the lowest hell forever, O righteous God! O dreadful! O terrible God! you have forever forsaken me!


These are words of unequaled pathos. They mark the climax of His sufferings. The soldiers had cruelly mocked Him: they had arrayed Him with the crown of thorns, they had scourged and buffeted Him, they even went so far as to spit upon Him and pluck off His hair. They despoiled Him of His garments and put Him to open shame. Yet He suffered it all in silence. They pierced His hands and feet, yet did He endure the Cross, despising the shame. The vulgar crowd taunted Him, and the thieves which were crucified with Him flung the same taunts into His face; yet He opened not His mouth. In response to all that He suffered at the hands of men, not a cry escaped His lips. But now, as the concentrated wrath of Heaven descends upon Him, He cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Surely this is a cry that ought to melt the hardest heart!
5. The Fifth Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Suffering
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture would be fulfilled, *said, “I am thirsty.”— John 19:28


"If I, (said one) should live a thousand years, and every day die a thousand times the same death for Christ that He once died for me, yet all this would be nothing to the sorrows Christ endured in his death."


He shows Himself in active obedience to the will of God, which He came to accomplish. He simply says, “I thirst”; the vinegar is tendered, and the prophecy is fulfilled. What perfect absorption in His Father’s will! The Lord Jesus delighted in the Father’s will even when it involved the suffering of thirst. Are we so resigned to Him? Have we sought grace to say, “Not my will, but thine, be done?” Can we exclaim “even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight?” 

The Son of God was denied a draught of cold water to relieve His suffering—how different with us! God has given us a variety of refreshments to relieve us, yet how often are we unthankful!
6. The Sixth Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Victory
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.—John 19:30


Perfect working always follows a perfect Being. That he might therefore finish this great work of obedience, and therein the glorious design of our redemption; lo! in what shining and perfect holiness was he produced!


This was not the despairing cry of a helpless martyr. It was not an expression of satisfaction that the termination of His sufferings was now reached. It was not the last gasp of a worn-out life. No, rather was it the declaration on the part of the divine Redeemer that all for which He came from heaven to earth to do, was now done; that all that was needed to reveal the full character of God had now been accomplished; that all that was required by the Law before sinners could be saved, had now been performed—that the full price of our redemption was now paid.
7. The Seventh Excellent Word of Christ Upon the Cross: The Word of Contentment
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” And having said this, He died.— Luke 23:46


Jesus Christ neither lived nor died for himself, but for believers; what he did in this very act, refers to them as well as to his own soul: You must look therefore upon Christ, in it is last and solemn act of his life, as gathering all the souls of the elect together, and making a solemn tender of them all, with his own soul to God.


The end was now reached. Perfect master of Himself, unconquered by death, He cries with a loud voice of unexhausted strength, and delivers up His spirit into the hands of His Father. In this, His uniqueness was manifested: none else ever did this or died thus... The Saviour committed His spirit into the hands of His Father in death, because it had been in the Father’s hands all through His life! Is this true of you, my reader? Have you as a sinner committed your spirit into the hands of God?

May the quotations above from two humble servants of God urge us to meditate deeply and more frequently on Christ and the cross. If you can, please grab and read those books and let your soul sink deep in earnest meditation on the last words of our Savior. We are not like those who think of Christ once a year only, and worst, some have wrong thoughts about Christ. But these writings are scriptural expositions that will truly assist you by God’s grace as you meditate upon the cross of the dying Savior. Ryan McGraw writes,

Meditation is a difficult duty. Most Christians struggle even with where to begin with respect to this duty. It is particularly important for us to mediate upon the Person and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, since beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is the primary means by which we are transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).5

May we attend to this greatest exercise of our mind, soul, and heart that our lives may be more like Christ’s and our will may be more subject to His Word.


1 The Seven Utterances of Christ on the Cross by John Flavel. In Flavel’s book, the third saying comes first before the second.

2 Why You Should Read the Puritans by Joel Beeke

3 The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross by Arthur W. Pink

4 Arthur W. Pink on Grace Gems

5 Ryan MacGraw, Thinking About Jesus: Owen on Meditating on Christ’s Glory

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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