What were Jesus Last Words on the Cross…exactly?

The Gospel of Mark:

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24852h" data-link="[h]”>[h] until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24853i" data-link="[i]”>[i] 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24858j" data-link="[j]”>[j] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

The Gospel of Matthew:

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24172p" data-link="[p]”>[p] until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24176q" data-link="[q]”>[q] 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24177r" data-link="[r]”>[r] 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

The Gospel of Luke:

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-25970l" data-link="[l]”>[l] until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed;<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-25971m" data-link="[m]”>[m] and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.”<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-25973n" data-link="[n]”>[n] 48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The Gospel of John:

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Gary’s Analysis:

It is odd how Matthew seems to follow Mark almost word for word in this segment of the Passion..until we get to Matthew’s account of an earthquake, and then all hell breaks loose.  Zombies, Matthew?  Really?  Two things are odd to me.  How could two different writers, allegedly working independently, describe this alleged incident almost word for word?  Secondly, why is it that Mark doesn’t mention anything about an earthquake or zombies roaming the streets of Jerusalem??  Would you leave those details out of your account of this event…if they had really happened?

And speaking of zombies, why is Matthew the only gospel author who mentions the zombies?  I believe that the zombie story is a blatant fabrication on Matthew’s part or proof of how oral legends can be wildly embellished after being retold hundreds of times.  Notice how Matthew says that the zombies came alive when Jesus died…but don’t come out of their graves until three days later when Jesus walks out of his grave!  What were the zombies doing for three days in their graves?  Watching CNN??

Now, notice in Mark and Matthew’s accounts that Jesus “cries out with a loud voice” and then breathes his last.  Could this be when Jesus says, ““It is finished”, as described by John, who according to the Gospel of John, was the only male disciple at the cross, so he would be the best source of information for what exactly Jesus said on the cross (although the other gospels say that all the male disciples were in hiding, with just a few female disciples….”watching from a distance”).  So if John is giving us the most accurate account of what Jesus said, because John was the only gospel author actually there, then we don’t have any real contradiction between John’s account of Jesus’ last words and the accounts of Mark and Matthew, do we?  Mark and Matthew don’t tell us exactly what Jesus said when he cried out, but they do say he said something else just before he died.  So looking at these three accounts, I don’t see a discrepancy in describing Jesus’ last words on the cross.

But what do we do with Luke??

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

How do you reconcile “It is finished” with “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”??

I believe that this discrepancy is irreconcilable.  There is no credible harmonization for this difference.  To me this is more evidence that there was no guiding “Holy Spirit” in the compilation of the Bible.  I believe that this discrepancy is evidence that whatever happened to Jesus, the oral story about him took on a life of its own.  It started with Mark’s simple tale and was subsequently embellished until fantastical, mythical details were added:  zombies hanging out in their graves watching CNN!

Matthew, Matthew!



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