Sayings/Jesus on the cross

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Jesus' Seven Sayings upon the Cross[1]

Jesus speaks seven times from the cross but not seven times in any one Gospel. The Gospels relate three very different stories regarding Jesus’ dying words. In one story, Jesus speaks only once; in a second, he speaks three times; and in a third, he speaks another three times. However, there are no parallels between what is said in any one of these three stories and what is said in the other two stories.

(A) Matthew and Mark (B) Luke (C) John
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34)
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) (Psalm 31:5)
“Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother.” (John 19:26–27)
“I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)

What Happens When Jesus Dies?[2]

In each of our four New Testament Gospels, the events that are narrated immediately after Jesus’s death may indicate a primary concern for that particular book.

Events Directly After Jesus' Death
Matthew 27:51–54 Mark 15:38-39 Luke 23:47–48 John 19:31–34
  • darkness came over the whole land (from noon till three in the afternoon) v. 45 (see Amos 8:9)
  • darkness came over the whole land (from noon till three in the afternoon) v. 44 (see Amos 8:9)
  • The curtain in the Jerusalem temple tore in two (at the moment that Jesus cried out his last words, committing his Spirit to the Father)
  • The curtain in the Jerusalem temple tore from top to bottom
  • The curtain in the Jerusalem temple tore in two
  • the centurion proclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
  • the centurion proclaimed, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
  • the gentile centurion began to praise God, acknowledging Jesus’s innocence "Surely this was a righteous man."
  • An earthquake opened tombs in the cemetery such that the bodies of many saints came back to life and came out of their tombs
  • the multitudes who were present returned home, beating their breasts in repentance
  • Jesus' side was pierced with a spear causing water and blood to gush forth
Interpretation: Matthew, like Mark, believes that Jesus’s death has provided a once-for-all-time sacrifice for sin, but Matthew also wants to stress that Jesus’s death opens the door to life after death. It is in the context of this eternal dimension that he is to be regarded as the Son of God. Interpretation: Mark believes that Jesus’s death has provided a ransom for sin (10:45), making the sacrificial cult of the Jerusalem temple obsolete. Mark also wants to tell his readers that it is only through the cross that one can come to understand fully who Jesus is. Interpretation: Luke is less concerned than Mark and Matthew with reflection on the theological meaning of Jesus’s death (i.e., its redemptive or atoning effect); however, Luke is more concerned than the other Gospels with the proper response of people to what Jesus has done. Luke believes that the word of the cross should lead people to worship and repentance. Interpretation: John’s Gospel is often heavily symbolic and water and blood are almost universal symbols for life. The flow of water and blood from a person’s body is reminiscent of what happens when a woman gives birth. John may be implying that, even as Jesus dies, he gives birth to a new life for all those who believe in him.

Psalm 22 and Its Fulfillment in Jesus Christ[3]

Jesus's cry of dereliction upon the cross is a direct quote from the opening of Psalm 22. This Old Testament prophecy was written a thousand years before Jesus Christ came to earth and yet it contains a remarkably detailed foretelling of Jesus’ unique death on the cross. For instance, death by crucifixion involves the water filling up the lungs and death by severe dehydration and asphyxiation. That is why water poured from His side when pierced with a spear. See verses 14-16 below:

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.

Psalm 22 Fulfillment in Christ
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (v. 1).  “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). 
“Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered” (vv. 4–5).  “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him” (Matt. 27:43). 
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people” (v. 6).  “They spit upon him . . . smote him on the head. . . . They had mocked him” (Matt. 27:30–31). 
“All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head” (v. 7).  “They that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads” (Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:29). 
“He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him” (v. 8).  “And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them deride him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ” (Luke 23:35). 
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels” (v. 14).  “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). 
“My strength is dried upon like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (v. 15).  “Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28). 
“For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me” (v. 15).  Chief priests, elders, the multitude, soldiers, scribes, thieves took actions against Jesus (Matt. 27:20–44). 
“They pierced my hands and my feet.” (v. 16)  “And they crucified him” (Matt. 27:35).“And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:37, citing Zech. 12:10). 
“All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.” (v. 17).  “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs” (John 19:33, see also Exodus 12:46). 

John 19:23 (NASB 1995) " Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”;

“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (v. 18). “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots” (Matt. 27:35).

Did the Father "turn his face away?"


  1. Baker Publishing Group,
  2. Baker Publishing Group,
  3. Bible Central,