Summary: Jesus words just before and after his death have amazing significance! Seven statements from the cross and the first three after his resurrection make up this lesson.
Have you heard of the seven last words of Christ on the cross? Some of you may be very familiar with this, others of you may wonder what I’m talking about. When you look at all the gospel accounts and put them together there are seven sayings or "Words" that Jesus spoke as he was dying on the cross:
-Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
-Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
-Jesus said to his Mother, "Woman, behold your son." And to the disciple, "Son, behold your mother." John 19:26-27
-I thirst. John 19:28
-It is finished! John 19:30
-Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit! Luke 23:46
Three of these are from Luke, three are from John and one is from both Matthew and Mark. The selection of these from each of these gospel writers not only gives us a wider view of the crucifixion event, but they also tell us something about each gospel writer and his audience.
Reading the gospels and meditating on these words of Jesus have inspired many sermons, songs, and books dating back to the 16th century. Your life and faith can be enriched by reflecting on these. Traditionally, these seven sayings or "words" have beautiful theological themes: forgiveness, salvation, relationship, abandonment, distress, triumph and reunion.
Jesus died on the cross at about three o’clock in the afternoon on either Thursday or Friday. Scholarship is divided here. Friday has become the traditionally accepted day of Christ’s death on the cross, but personally, I am convinced it was Thursday. Either way, Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the week. It was this time of year almost 2000 years ago, on the first day of the week that Jesus, the Son of God rose from the grave and appeared alive again to witnesses. Their testimony about Jesus, the risen, living, reigning Christ, has changed the world. We can read that testimony in the pages of scripture: Jesus Christ prophesied in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament.
This morning I invite you to consider not just the last words of Jesus on the Cross, but also the first words of Jesus after his resurrection. Our text will be John 20:1-16. I hope you have your Bibles handy and will follow along. We will also do a little comparison with Matthew, Mark and Luke’s account as we focus on what John tells us. Certainly there is a great message for us all from the first words of the risen Christ. Read with me John’s testimony of the resurrection and what Jesus said.
John tells us in personal detail how Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the resurrected Christ. Unlike Matt. Mk. and Luke, he doesn’t mention any other women, though the apostles agree that Mary Magdalene was either first or among the first to see Jesus alive again. John tells us that this is actually Mary’s SECOND trip to the empty tomb this resurrection morning. The first time she saw the empty tomb she was distraught and ran to tell Peter and John (the apostle that Jesus loved) that Jesus’ body was gone!