What would you do if you knew you only had a year left to live? How would your regular routine change? Who would you talk to? What would you say?
What if you only had months or weeks? Most would probably write last words to be given to special people in their lives, be it children, or spouses, or friends.
It’s very common for people, who know the end is approaching, to want to leave with some final words. It’s a way to take some control over the situation.
My Master hung on the cross two thousand years ago, dying for the sins of mankind, and He too had some final words to say. Knowing he only had hours left, he had some last things He wanted to express before dying. The last words of a man are the most honest you will ever hear. What were the last words of the Master?
1) FATHER FORGIVE THEM, THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO (Luke 23:34)
2) TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE (Luke 23:43)
3) WOMAN BEHOLD YOUR SON; SON BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER (John 19:26-27)
4) MY GOD MY GOD, WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN ME (Matthew 27:46)
5) I THIRST (John 19:28)
6) IT IS FINISHED (John 19:30)
7) FATHER INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT (Luke 23:46)
What’s amazing, when you consider those famous last words of Jesus, is how little He says about Himself. It’s remarkable that His first words on the cross are a prayer of forgiveness for the criminals who put Him there. From there He turns to a man guilty of a crime worthy of the cross and offers him forgiveness too. Third He turns to the condition of His mother as He puts her in the care of His friend, John. So his first three words are all with respect to other people. With His fourth saying He expresses His fulfillment of Psalm 22 and it’s not until the fifth saying that He says anything resembling a complaint. And it’s not even a complaint! It’s a fulfillment of a prophesy from Psalm 69. It’s incredible that, after all the suffering and pain He was put through, the only thing He says that in anyway expresses physical discomfort is “I’m thirsty.” After that He has two words of finality, first expression satisfaction that His mission is finished and then finally offering His dying soul into the hands of the God which gave it life.
What you don’t find in Jesus’ last words, are expressions of bitterness. He doesn’t last out at those who conspired to kill Him. He doesn’t bemoan His “lot in life” or anything negative like that. He is very much a man at peace.
And thanks to that death, our own moments of death can be at peace as well. Thanks to His death on the cross we have the hope of Heaven beyond the veil of death. Our final words can be expressions of gratitude and rejoicing because we know that the last time we close our eyes, they will open in paradise with our Lord. If I knew this was my last week alive, I would have a lot I wanted to accomplish, no doubt. But I would also spend my final days with the calm assurance that my soul was entrusted by God and secure in His salvation.
Can we say the same thing? I hope so!