Thursday, September 27, 2018
Yeshua's Last Words
By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International
The scripture reading is: Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
As Yeshua’s last day was coming to a close, He still had things He needed to communicate to His followers and others. As He hung suspended on the cross from 9:00 a.m. until His death six hours later at 3:00 p.m., He made seven statements. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection or completion. In addition to the literal meaning of these seven statements, they have deeper metaphorical and spiritual implications. What spiritual completion is in these statements? What can we learn from Yeshua’s last words before His death?
In Hebrew, the number seven is shebah,#7651 in Strong’s Concordance. It comes from the root word shaba, #7650, meaning to be complete or full. Another meaning of this root word is to swear an oath in the sense of the security, satisfaction or fullness of an oath. The spiritual perfection of seven is evidenced by God’s completed work of creation followed by the seventh day rest. When God completed His work, He declared that it was good and then He rested.
Genesis 1:31 - 2:2 NKJV 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. 1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
In a sense, God is swearing to the “goodness” of creation.
With this understanding of the number seven, let’s examine Yeshua’s last words. Luke and John each recorded three of these seven statements while Matthew and Mark both recorded the same statement. Since different gospel writers recorded Yeshua’s statements, we can’t be certain of the order in which they were spoken, but most theologians agree on the order in which they were spoken and we will look at them in that order.
The first statement was recorded by Luke.
Luke 23:34-35 NKJV 34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots. 35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God."
The first level of understanding scripture is the literal level. As we examine these verses, at the literal level, Yeshua is asking the Father to forgive those who put Him on the cross, those who stripped Him of His garments and cast lots for who would receive His possessions. He is asking for forgiveness for the rulers and others looking on who sneered and mocked Him. He is demonstrating His own teaching to have compassion on one’s enemies.
Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Yeshua knows what awaits the inhabitants of Judah after His death as part of God’s judgment for their unbelief demonstrated by their mocking. As Yeshua was led to the cross, women along the way mourned for Yeshua’s upcoming death, but He rebuked them and told them to mourn for themselves.
Luke 23:28-29 NKJV 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 "For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!'
Yeshua understood the consequences of the actions of the Jewish leadership when they rejected Him and orchestrated His death. As Paul wrote, they relied on the wisdom of man, not the wisdom of God which was hidden from them.
1 Corinthians 2:7-9 NKJV 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
The second statement Yeshua makes is on behalf of one of the criminals executed with Him. One of the criminals joins in with the onlookers and rulers and mocks Yeshua. The other criminal recognizes both the innocence of Yeshua and his own guilt.
Luke 23:40-43 NKJV 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Yeshua’s statement recognizes the man’s repentance and faith that Yeshua was able to intercede with God on his behalf. Yeshua promises the man that, after he died, he would be with Him in Paradise. What is the Jewish concept of that day about death and Paradise? Yeshua referred earlier to the place after death when He told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus went to Paradise while the rich man went to a place of torment.
Luke 16:22-23 NKJV 22 "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
First Fruits of Zion in The Chronicles of the Messiah explains the Pharisee’s concept of Paradise:
According to the Pharisees, the souls of the righteous wait in Paradise for the resurrection of the dead, at which point they will be returned to their bodies. Several other names for Paradise appear in rabbinic literature, including the Garden of Eden and the term “under the throne of glory.”[i]
We can understand Paul’s words as referring to Paradise when he writes of being present with the LORD.
2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
John sees this place under the altar when the saints cry out asking how much longer they must wait.
Revelation 6:9-10 NKJV 9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
Yeshua’s statement acknowledges that there is a place after death where the righteous go to wait for the ultimate resurrection of the dead.
Yeshua’s next statement is about the living! He entrusts the care of his mother to his disciples John.
John 19:27 NKJV 27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
As the eldest son of Mary, Yeshua had the duty of caring for her in her old age. At Yeshua’s death, that duty should have fallen to Yeshua’s next oldest brother. Why did Yeshua entrust her to John’s care instead? For a possible understanding, we need to first look at the original Greek text. The Greek does not include the word “home.” John took Mary into his own. His own home makes sense, but does the word “home” convey all that Yeshua meant? Let’s look at the history of Yeshua’s family. As recently as the previous fall at the Feast of Tabernacles, Yeshua’s brothers did not believe that He was the Messiah. There was friction in the family that dated back to the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry. By placing Mary in John’s care, Yeshua forced the reconciliation between His disciples and His physical family. John may have taken Mary into his home, but he definitely took her into his family or into his care. As we know, after Yeshua’s resurrection, He appeared personally to His brother James. Paul wrote about Yeshua’s appearances after His resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:6-7 NKJV 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
As Yeshua’s time on the cross passed by, the suffering and pain He endured turned His thoughts inward. His final statements all reflect that inward and heavenly focus. Yeshua’s fourth statement reflects His pain.
Matthew 27:45-46 NKJV 45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Although we want to take this statement purely at a metaphorical level, we cannot discount the literal. Yeshua was going through agony and in His agony, He cried out in pain. The pain that was first manifest in the Garden of Gethsemane when Yeshua cried out for a different path to bring salvation was now fully realized. Darkness had overtaken the land and Yeshua felt that God had forsaken Him. David also felt this abandonment.
Psalms 22:1-2 NKJV 1 A Psalm of David. My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? 2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.
Because Yeshua’s words echoed and perhaps even deliberately quoted David, we are directed to David’s words in this Psalm. The entire twenty second Psalm is prophetic of the events surrounding Yeshua’s arrest, crucifixion, and even His resurrection. So, on a deeper level, Yeshua’s words lead us to understand the prophetic fulfillment of the events of the crucifixion. Even in this God is in control! David ends his Psalm in praise of God recognizing that even though he felt abandoned by God, God did not abandon him!
Psalms 22:19-22 NKJV 19 But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! 20 Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. 21 Save Me from the lion's mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me. 22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
Every time that Yeshua cried out to God in front of witnesses God answered Him in a tangible way; in a way that those witnessing the event were able to hear or see. As we continue through Yeshua’s statements, we will see that God, once again, answered Yeshua in an obvious display.
After His fourth statement, as Yeshua hung on the cross, He knew that death was near. He knew that He had accomplished all that needed to be done. But His body still cried out for relief.
John 19:28-29 NKJV 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
One of the soldiers had compassion on Yeshua. Sour wine was the standard army issue beverage. The soldiers probably had some on hand as they waited out the long day at the site of the executions. He offered Yeshua drink for his thirst. Yeshua said that any time anyone offers a drink to those in need in His name; it is as if it was done to Him.
Matthew 25:37-40 NKJV 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
This Roman centurion saw Yeshua as thirsty and gave Him something to drink.
On a deeper level, there is a ritual in the Torah, Numbers 5:11-31, for when a jealous husband suspects his wife of adultery. The husband is to take his wife before the priests where she is given a bitter concoction to drink. If the wife is innocent, she will not be harmed and will conceive to bear a child for her husband. If she is guilty, her body will rot from the inside out beginning with her womb. Yeshua accepts this drink and then makes His sixth declaration.
John 19:30 NKJV 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Yeshua had completed the work that God sent Him to do. Just as God completed the work of creation on the sixth day, so also did Yeshua complete the work the Father gave Him to do with His sixth declaration. And just like the Father rested on the seventh day, Yeshua also rested as he makes His seventh and last statement from the cross.
Hebrews 4:10 NKJV 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Luke records Yeshua’s seventh and last statement writing that Yeshua, strengthened as the end neared, entered into His rest.
Luke 23:46 NKJV 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last.
Just like David knew that regardless of what he felt, God did not abandon him, so also, Yeshua knew that God had not abandoned Him in His darkest hour. God answered Yeshua’s cry of despair with a cry of His own. At Yeshua’s death, the curtain of the temple was torn in two matching the description of the mourning ritual of rending the garments.
Mark 15:37-38 NKJV 37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. 38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The tear in the curtain began at the top as if coming from the Father and in reaction to the death of Yeshua. First Fruits of Zion explains the connection with the mourning ritual:
The Temple curtain can be likened to the garment of God. Daube explains that the Targum translated the veil of the Temple as pargood, a word that may also denote a tunic.[ii]
Although traditional Christianity looks upon this rending of the veil as opening the way for us to enter the holy of holies, traditional Judaism would have viewed this as a coming judgment of God. Although the Talmud doesn’t mention the tearing of the veil at the crucifixion of Yeshua, it records various other occurrences within the Temple that pointed to the coming judgment. Starting forty years before its destruction, the Temple doors would open on their own in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy about the burning of the Temple which was made from cedars from Lebanon.
Zechariah 11:1 NKJV 1 Open your doors, O Lebanon, That fire may devour your cedars.
Another sign of the coming destruction was that the westernmost lamp of the Menorah would not stay lit. And finally, the scarlet thread tied to the Temple doors on Yom Kippur which would turn white at the death of the goat for Azazel no longer turned white. The torn veil, like the open doors of the temple would indicate that the temple including the Holy of Holies was open for destruction. First Fruits of Zion relates the Talmud’s description of this event.
Rabbinic sources make no mention of the incident [of the torn veil], but the Talmud does tell about the Roman General Titus piercing the veil with his sword during the final siege of Jerusalem. According to legend, blood spurted from the veil.[iii]
God answered Yeshua with a cry of His own grief and of coming judgment.
Although the veil on the earthly temple was torn, the veil in the heavenly temple remains in place and the Holy of Holies maintains its sanctity. Yeshua’s death provides the way through the veil for those who love and fear Him.
Hebrews 10:19-20 NKJV 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,
David declared that God heard and answered Him. He goes on to say that he will proclaim God’s praises in the great assembly.
Psalms 22:25 NKJV 25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
David declares that he would pay his vows before those who fear him. Yeshua, in his sixth statement, declared that His vows and the vows of His Father to bring redemption to His people had been fulfilled. Now Yeshua rests with the Father. All those who have died but feared Him rest in Yeshua in Paradise awaiting the resurrection of the dead when the rest of the vows will be completed. David goes on to declare the completion of those vows.
Psalms 22:26-28 NKJV 26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! 27 All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You. 28 For the kingdom is the LORD'S, And He rules over the nations.
In Yeshua’s seven statements on the cross, He demonstrated His compassion for His people, the repentant, and His family. He demonstrated His humanity as he faced His own despair while bearing the punishment of the sins of the world. He demonstrated His obedience accepting the cup and finishing the work. He entered into His rest and promises us that we also have a rest waiting for us if we continue in obedience to Him.
1. Compare the women who were weeping over Yeshua’s crucifixion in Luke 23:27-31 with the vision given to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 9:3-11.
2. Examine the number “seven” as an implied oath. What additional depths do we see in events such as the sprinkling of blood seven times on Yom Kippur in Leviticus 16? What deeper understanding does this convey for other events of seven?
3. One of the thieves on the cross asks Yeshua to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Compare this to the baker and cupbearer Joseph encounters in Pharaoh’s prison in Genesis 40:9-23.
4. Hebrews explains that Yeshua has entered into His rest like the Father rested on the seventh day. What other “rests” does Hebrews compare this to? What is our rest? (Hebrews 3:16- Hebrews 4:13)
© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.
[i] The Chronicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.1647.
[ii] The Chronicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.1662.
[iii] The Chronicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.1662.