Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
Jesus says this first word only in the Gospel of Luke, just after he was crucified by the soldiers on Golgotha, with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. The timing of this suggests that Jesus asks his Father to primarily forgive his enemies, the soldiers, who have scourged him, mocked him, tortured him, and who have just nailed him to the cross. But could this not also apply to his Apostles and companions who have deserted him, to Peter who has denied him three times, to the fickle crowd, who only days before praised him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and then days later chose him over Barabbas to be crucified?. He could have come down from the cross and commanded legions of angels come and destroy everyone. (Compare to Matthew 26:53.) Instead, he chose to stay on the cross, and asked the Father to not pour out judgment upon the people.
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
Now it is not just the religious leaders or the soldiers that mock Jesus, but even one of the criminals, a downward progression of mockery. But the criminal on the right speaks up for Jesus, explaining the two criminals are receiving their just due, and then pointing to Jesus, says, "This man has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). What wonderful faith this repentant sinner had in Jesus. Jesus responds with His second word. The second word again is about forgiveness, this time directed to a sinner. Just as the first word, this Biblical expression again is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus shows his Divinity by opening heaven for a repentant sinner - such generosity to a man that only asked to be remembered!
Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).
A focus on the physical needs of others; of taking care of his family. Jesus and Mary are together again, at the beginning of his ministry in Cana and now at the end of his public ministry at the foot of the Cross. What sorrow must fill her heart, to see her Son mocked, tortured, and now just crucified. Once again, a sword pierces Mary's soul, the sword predicted by Simeon at the Temple (Luke 2:35) . There are four at the foot of the cross, Mary his Mother, John, the disciple whom he loved, Mary of Cleopas, his mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene. His third word is addressed to Mary and John, the only eye-witness of the Gospel writers.
Eli Eli lama sabachthani? ("My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
This is the only expression of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Both Gospels relate that it was in the ninth hour, after 3 hours of darkness that Jesus cried out this fourth word. The ninth hour was three o'clock in Palestine. Just after He speaks, Mark relates with a horrible sense of finality,
"And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last" (Mark 15:37).
Jesus, the sinless one, became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). As such, God (the Father), in his holiness, had to turn his back on Jesus - which represents total abandonment. The fellowship and unity that had existed between the Father and the Son, for all eternity past, was broken.
I thirst (John 19:28).
The fifth word of Jesus is His only human expression of His physical suffering. Jesus is now in shock. The wounds inflicted upon him in the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the nailing upon the cross are now taking their toll, especially after losing blood on the three-hour walk through the city of Jerusalem to Golgotha. Jesus' physical anguish increased to an intensity that paralleled his spiritual anguish. (Thirst is just one of the aspects of this anguish). Old Testament fulfilled: Psalm 69:21 - They also gave me gall for my food. In my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.
It is finished (John 19:30).
In Jesus' day, "It is finished" was a legal term. It meant that the debt was "paid in full." Here, it was in reference to a debt that we owed, because of our sins... and it indicated that Jesus' redemptive work on the cross was completed.
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).
This would have occurred immediately after he cried out "It is finished," as he was bowing his head and giving up his spirit. Just as his spirit had to suffer the most extreme judgment, on our behalf, so did his body. Three days later, we discover that this is not the end of the story. Victory would come, as he broke forth from the tomb, physically alive again.