Do you remember the last words that you heard anyone say yesterday? What were the last words you said to your spouse, your kids, or to the stranger you will never meet again? You probably don’t remember unless it was something unique, or something that you always say, such as “I love you.” This Wednesday, we finished another season of student ministry and say goodbye, or see you later, to another senior class of young adults and to some that have led them along the way. The series these past few weeks was appropriately titled ‘Last Words’ in which several people, including some seniors, had a chance to say a few last words to the rest of the group. Do you remember the time leading up to your graduation from High School or College? It was probably the last time you saw some of your classmates. What do you remember from your conversations at that time? What advice did your parents give you before you left home?
Throughout history, the last words of several people have been recorded as having been notable, and even those of fictional characters have often been quoted. What made these statements stand out, whether or not they knew they would soon be passing from this life to the next? Have you thought about what you might say to your loved ones as you breathe your last? Would you be reflective, in the moment, or hopeful for what is to come? Maybe you have already put down your wishes in a Last Will and Testament, which may take care of some financial decisions, but what about your legacy outside of the bank? Have you heard what things people who are dying will say to their families in their last few weeks or seconds to live? Whether in a comfortable place surrounded by their loved ones or in a last second phone call following a terrorist attack, some get an opportunity to say a few last words, while others do not.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Choosing to give up his life for you and me, what was notable about our Savior’s words when he was dying on the cross? What comes across most notably to me is his continued attitude of forgiveness and his focus to complete the mission for which he was sent, to pay the debt in full. Is this not an act of love? To forgive the criminal next to him in each of their last moments is an illustration of what his whole life is about…to seek and to save the lost. Remember when he said the same thing to you when you first repented and he spoke…”I forgive you.” How many more times has he said this to others who look to him on the cross when he speaks to their hearts?
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
What do you want to be known for? Maybe its not so much the last words you say that are significant, but what you say with the rest of your life, leading up to that point. What will people remember from your time here with us? What kind of influence are you having on those around you now? It should be pretty evident. So, if you have not already done so, take some time to tell those you love what is really important to you. Write a letter, or make a list of things that you want them to know before and after you leave this world. It is my desire to let others know what a difference Christ has made in my life, and I truly want the same or better for them, but I know I fall short in getting this message across in the interactions I have with many in my life. What is holding me back from sharing this more? What is keeping you from sharing the things you want others to know? Make every moment count today and each day you have an opportunity to love others as Christ loved us.
Strength and Courage in Christ,