Mel Gibson used his cinematic license to frame the last words of Scotland’s William Wallace in the 1995 movie Braveheart. After experiencing gruesome torture as a traitor to England, his executioner suggests that if he would just beg for mercy, his pain would end quickly. The English crowd, once thrilled to see their enemy in agony, picks up the escalating chant of “Mercy,” urging him on. Wallace gathers his strength and stuns the crowd by screaming out one last time his rallying cry, “Freedom!”
Good theatre? Yes.
Great history? Probably not.
Aside from the fact that Gibson lessens the actual horror of the violence done to Wallace, history does not record his last words.
It’s been said that the final moments of one’s life provide a snapshot or an MRI into that entire life. Some last words become immortalized. None are so succinct and historically accurate as what are known as the seven last “words” of Jesus Christ.
The “words” of Jesus, spoken from the Cross are actually seven short phrases. To find all seven you must read all the gospels, since none of the writers records all seven. The words, uttered over the span of six hours, and remembered by his mother, and disciple, John, follow in chronological order:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” (John 19:26–27)
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
“I thirst.” (John 19:28)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
His final words are laced with phrases from Psalm 22, Psalm 31, and Psalm 69. The Psalms were woven in the fabric of Jesus’ life, as they would be in any devoted Jew. What once gave his life context now provided Him comfort and a prophetic platform to declare His Father’s plan.
When darkness prevails in life, it takes faith even to talk to God - even if it’s to complain to Him. These final words of Jesus show his absolute trust in God. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
He did not whisper in defeat as He slipped silently in to the night. He is immortalized shouting – “crying with a loud voice” - his defiance and defeat of death and His victory over sin.
Jesus’ shout has been termed a model of prayer for anyone when afraid, sick, or facing death. It says in effect: "I commit myself to you, O God. In my living. And in my dying. In the good times and in the bad. Whatever I am and have, I place in your hands, Lord, for your glory.”
What are you facing this Easter?
Do you need forgiveness?
Feeling forsaken or forgotten by God?
Wrestling with doubts about your faith?
Battling cancer or disease?
Facing a prognosis of death?
Find your hope and courage in the eternal words of Jesus. Commend your life to God’s hands. Declare your freedom.
“He has done it.” Psalm 22:31
Bob is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
Follow his writing at Pointes Of View.