Jesus’ Last Words

During each passion story, Jesus has a few “last words” on the cross. In Mark 15:34 Jesus exclaims, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”. Right before his death, Jesus gives another loud cry of pain. These last exclamations of Jesus strengthen Mark’s theme that Jesus is the Messiah who came to suffer. Jesus was unjustly sentenced to death and must suffer the pain of crucifixion. In the end he questions why God has left him out to die. This is important to Mark because he wants to exemplify to his persecuted readers that like us, Jesus has suffered too. Although we may believe that God has abandoned us, we know that it is not true. For just as Jesus is resurrected, the ones who follow him will be brought into the Kingdom of God as well.
Mathew’s story of the death of Jesus is practically identical to Mark’s, in which Jesus has the same last words. In these last lines of Jesus’ human life, he is fulfilling the Hebrew Scriptures. The earth begins to quake and it says that tombs open and the spirits of saints were raised as the y entered the kingdom of heaven with Jesus.
John’s purpose in writing the Gospel was to portray Jesus as the Incarnate Word of God and glorious Savior of the World. In John’s Passion narrative, Jesus says “I thirst” (John 19:28) and “It is finished” (John 19:29) as he breaths his last breath. Although short, and much different from the other Gospels, these two curt statements do an excellent job in demonstrating that Jesus is incarnate, of flesh. He thirsts, just as all humans do. As well, when he says “it is finished”, he can be referring to his life. He cannot live forever, but must face death just as we all must someday. Jesus could also be referring to the fact that his deed of saving us from our sins is finished.
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus yells out, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus is entrusting God, commending God with, his spirit. Luke wants to demonstrate that if Jesus, the rejected prophet who has suffered and died because of us, can trust God with his spirit, that all people, Jews, Gentiles, outcasts, and sinners, should be able to trust God with their spirits. Everyone who hears the story of Jesus should follow his example and have faith in God.

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4 thoughts on “Jesus’ Last Words

  1. Interesting theological hypotheses here! Remember that Matthew probably used the Gospel of Mark as one of his sources; it seems he largely follows Mark in terms of this detail of Jesus’ last words on the cross. However, in the context of the larger narrative of Mark and Matthew, these same “last words” might resonate a little differently. In Mark, it seems that pretty much everyone misunderstands and eventually abandons Jesus in his moment of need. For Matthew, in addition to viewing Jesus as the new Moses, it’s important to Matthew that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills Scripture. The footnotes of your Bible will probably point out that the statement “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is a quote from the beginning of Psalm 22, about a suffering person who eventually sees God’s vindication. Matthew and his Jewish-Christian audience probably would have picked up on this connection to the Jewish scriptures even more than Mark and his audience.

  2. Seems like you put a lot of thought into this blog post! Nice work. Your reasoning behind Jesus’ words on the cross in each of the four gospels are in line with the author’s intended portrayal of the Son of God and make logical sense.

  3. I like how you tie each gospel’s last words of Jesus to the specific message of each gospel. It helps us see the way that each of the communities that the authors wrote for related to Jesus.

  4. I really like your thoughts on each of the Gospel’s last words for Jesus and their theological impact. I initially tried to answer this question but struggled because there is so little to go on, only a few words that make such a deep impact! Your connections and analysis are really interesting and make a lot of sense in the context of each Gospel’s purpose and message.

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