Three of these sayings were addressed to God the Father. Four of them were addressed to man. The three addressed to God were prayers (1st, 4th, and 7th). Luke and John each record three of the seven accounts. Matthew and Mark only record one and they both record the same saying.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The first saying occurred shortly after Christ was put on the cross. It was a prayer of Christ to God the Father for the forgiveness of His enemies. This prayer, like many of the events associated with the crucifixion, was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 53:12). We must keep in mind that Christ our Lord was fully God and yet He was fully man. He felt the same emotions that we feel. He felt the same pain that we feel. He dealt with the same temptations that we endure. This was an unnatural request for the humanity of Christ. The flesh doesn’t want to seek the good of the offender. It wants to bring retribution for the wrongs that the aggressor has committed. As Christ hung upon the cross, robed in human flesh, wrongly accused and beaten, He prayed that the Father might forgive the wrongs that were committed against His only begotten Son. How many of us could pray that prayer? How many of us would be willing if we could? Christ did!
“Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The second saying of the Savior on the cross at Calvary had to do with the promise of paradise for one of the thieves who was crucified with Christ. This saying occurred shortly after the first saying and before any of the great miracles happened. These verses reveal a message of comfort and hope to all who look to Christ. Salvation is impossible if one doesn’t recognize the sovereignty of Christ. You must submit to Him as Lord of your life. He purchased your redemption on the cross, through His precious blood, and He must be recognized as the Lord and Master of your life. Submission is essential to salvation! This malefactor was on the verge of death, but he realized his need and found the Lord faithful to him even though he was undeserving.
“Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26,27). The third saying from the cross was directed to Mary, the mother of our Lord, and to John, one of the twelve disciples. This third saying from the cross provided a home for Mary the mother of our Lord. He had been obedient to the cross of Calvary and even there He identifies with His mother. The Son of God identifies with His earthly mother. He is dying for her sins as well as ours and yet He continues to identify with her. She is not despised or rejected; she is loved. He is doing this for her. Jesus continues to identify with men. He continues to reveal Himself as the Savior of their soul! Praise God that He didn’t reject me. He loved me when I was unlovable. Jesus wants to identify with you today if you will only see Him! What a picture of the compassion of our Savior. It was His love that took Him to the cross. He died because He loved us. But, His love didn’t end there. He remains a compassionate Savior. He is concerned with the hearts and souls of men. He is concerned about your situation today. He wants to make provision for you and meet your need. Heb.4:15—For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Had He not loved us, He would never have died for us. If He loved us enough to die for us, surely He continues to have a heart of compassion for us!
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; cp. Mark 15:34). The fourth saying from the cross by Christ is the only saying of the seven which is recorded in more than one Gospel. Both Matthew and Mark record this saying. This cry speaks of separation from the presence of God. Sin separates from God. “The wages of sin is spiritual death. Sin separates from God who is the fount of all life. God was judging the sins of the world in His Son.
“I thirst” (John 19:28). The fifth saying of the Savior on the cross is like the third and the sixth sayings in that it is recorded only in the Gospel of John. This saying was recorded shortly before Christ died on the cross. Jesus knew that all things were now accomplished. That has to do with “bringing to a close, to finish, complete, fulfill; to carry out the command given.” This reveals His divine omniscience. He had endured hours of unspeakable torment and suffering and yet He remained coherent and aware that the will of God was being fulfilled. We must keep in mind that Christ our Lord was fully God and yet He was fully man. He felt the same emotions that we feel. He felt the same pain that we feel. He dealt with the same temptations that we endure.
“It is finished” (John 19:30). This sixth saying is a proclamation of victory, of completion, of success. Comparing Matt. 27:50, Mark 15:37 and Luke 23:46 it is apparent that the words of this saying as well as the words of the seventh saying were spoken with a loud voice. “It is finished” said Christ had completed His service. Christ spoke of “the works which the Father hath given me to finish” (John 5:36). And He finished them! He could truly say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). As Apostle Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7). Christ accomplished what He was sent to earth to do. He did His work and did it all and did it well. Christ’s performance is certainly a rebuke to our poor performance in serving God. Instead of saying, “It is finished,” we often say, “I am finished” which means “I quit.” One of the greatest problems in Christian service is right here—many start the race and do well at the start but drop out before the race is over. They cannot say, “It is finished.” But if Christ finished His work for us, how can we do less that finish our work for Him. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus was not a failure. He was not an imposter or blasphemer. He was not resigning to defeat. He was declaring victory! In this simple statement, Jesus serves notice that He has fulfilled the will of God concerning salvation.
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). The last saying of Christ on the cross was a prayer just as the first and fourth sayings were also prayers. This prayer is very similar to the prayer of David in Psalm 31:5 in which David says, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit.” Jesus Christ was not a victim of circumstances. He did not lose control of His life at Calvary. Though unknown and unrecognized by all His enemies, Christ still controlled Calvary. This final prayer emphatically proves this fact. Christ had said earlier that He would give His life of His own volition, and nobody would take it from Him. “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down” (John 10:17,18). He died praying to God. How noble that Christ died praying. How noble that anyone should die with a prayer on their lips. Jesus Died Praying to God—In the final moments prior to His death, Jesus spent them in prayer to God. He used those final precious moments as an opportunity to talk and commune with the Father. He lived in prayer and died in prayer.