September 30, 2001 / Volume 1, Issue 30
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
What were Jesus' last words? Matthew records, "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?' that is to say, 'My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?'...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost." (Matthew 27:46, 50) Luke writes, "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, 'Father, unto thy hands I commit my spirit', and having said thus, he gave up the ghost." (Luke 23:46) And John writes, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, 'It is finished', and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." (John 19:30).
Is there a contradiction?
It is not necessary for each writer to record every occurrence and every word spoken by the Lord. If such were the case, we would have four gospel accounts identical in every respect. Each man wrote according to what he saw and heard, or what had been revealed to him by the Spirit of God. Now, to the supposed contradiction.
None of the writers declares, "THIS IS THE LAST THING JESUS SAID!" Consider a possible chronology:
- 1 - Jesus cries out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Some who are nearby bring a spunge with vinegar in it to him (Matthew 27:48; John 19:29).
- 2 - Jesus cries with a loud voice (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). It is quite possible the "...loud voice..." cry Matthew and Luke mention is the "It is finished!" recorded by John.
- 3 - After the cry in a loud voice (ref. # 2), all three writers record that Jesus yielded up his spirit (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). Luke records some final words, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit", perhaps words spoken under his breath at the moment of his death.
So, do Luke 23:46 and John 19:30 contradict? I do not believe so. John recorded what he heard the Lord say on the cross. The words, "It is finished" appear to have been cried out loud and clear (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46). The words recorded by Luke were very possibly inaudible or unheard by John. They appear to have accompanied the very moment of his death.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible