The Seven Last Words are the sayings uttered by Jesus as he hung on the cross on Good Friday. Gathered from the four Gospels, we hear Jesus speaking to God, to his mother, his disciples, to a penitent thief—and to us, today—of forgiveness, redemption and complete surrender to the will of God. The Seven Last Words also demonstrate Jesus’ fulfillment of the messianic prophecies.
Even until his final breath, Jesus provided instruction and inspiration for his followers.
A note from the artist, Sister Celeste Marie Nuttman
When invited to make a visual reflection on the traditional Seven Last Words of Jesus to accompany the written reflections of our Sisters, I prayed with the key focus words and with the scripture passages as well as with some simple reflections by Father James Martin.
I wanted a central image that would evolve throughout Lent. I felt the intensification or darkening of the liturgical colors of Lent would provide this as the season progresses. The use of the equilateral Greek cross appealed to me as the core design, surrounded by the circles representing the four wounds: the crown of thorns and three nails.
At the heart of the cross I drew a simple image or what I might call a movement of the scripture and focus word interpreting each of the “seven last words.” I hope these will serve your prayer this Sacred Season.
The Seven Last Words
Word of Forgiveness
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Word of Salvation
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Word of Relationship
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Word of Abandonment
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
Word of Distress
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.”
Word of Triumph
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Word of Reunion
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.