Christian churches are celebrating Holy Week starting with Palm Sunday on April 9 and ending with Easter Sunday on April 16. During the week, many activities are taking place to remind people of Jesus' final week on earth. Good Friday services are common where The Seven Last Words of Jesus" are preached. Usually, the preaching is shared by seven ministers who each take one of the expressions and give a 7-minute homily about it.

The Good Friday Service might be called "Seven Expressions of Jesus," Seven Sayings of Jesus," or by some other title.

However, the words from the cross were short complete sentences that were spoken from the cross.

Seven last words

The last words are found in more than one gospel but not in all of them. When the sayings are preached, they should be preached in the order in which Jesus said them.

Notice that the first three sayings of Jesus are directed to others. It is only after he gets to the fourth saying that he turns his attention to himself.

Words for others

Luke 23:43 records the first word spoken from the cross. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Jesus asked God to forgive those responsible for falsely accusing him and nailing him to the cross where he was about to die.

Forgiveness for others was Jesus' first concern.

The second word from the cross was spoken to one of the thieves who was hanging beside him. After the two thieves had a conversation, only one asked to be saved, according to Luke 23:43. Then Jesus said, "Today, you will be with me in paradise."

The third word from the cross was spoken to Jesus' mother and John, according to John 19:26-27.

Jesus did not want his mother to see what was about to happen. Therefore, he asked John to take her home. It is significant that he did not ask his own brothers or any of the other disciples to take care of his mother. In the Bible, John is referred to as "the beloved disciple."

Turns attention to self

There is clearly a division here.

The dying man made sure everyone else was taken care of before he turned his attention to himself. Even though the fourth word is found in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, Jesus was reciting Psalm 22:1 when he said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He was merely repeating the question the psalmist had asked.

The fifth word was one that was about Jesus' humanity. It is the shortest of the seven sayings. According to John 19:28, he said, "I thirst." This showed that Jesus was fully human with physical needs.

The sixth word found in John 19:30 is often thought to be the last word because Jesus said, "It is finished." The "it" is not the last of his words on the cross. Rather, the Son of God was saying his work on earth was finished.

The seventh word is similar to the bedtime prayer mothers teach their children. Mary probably taught her son that simple bedtime prayer. Our bedtime prayer is "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." According to Luke 23:46, Jesus said it this way, "Father into your hands, I commend my spirit." Like a little child, Jesus went to sleep in his father's arms.