History is filled with famous last words of people in their dying hour. When confronted with their mortality, a person’s final words are a pretty accurate summation of what their life was all about. For example, Thomas á Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, said these famous last words in 1170, “I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.” But from a completely different view of life, here is what entertainer P.T. Barnum said just before he died, “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
What do you think you would say if you knew you only had a few more breaths of life? The world renowned artist and innovator, Leonardo da Vinci, said this before he died in 1519, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” To me, that’s pretty interesting because I’ve seen da Vinci’s work and it is awesome!
For most people, when it comes to their final words, it’s all about family. For instance, US President James K. Polk’s last words were to his wife when he said, “I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.” And just before President Andrew Jackson died, his last words to his children were, “Oh, do not cry. Be good children and we will all meet in heaven.”
Of course, there have been many who lived without any regard for God, and their last words were an exclamation point of unbelief. On May 10, 1977, in her dying hour, actress Joan Crawford said this to her nurse who was praying for her, “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.” And just before he died, actor Humphrey Bogart said, “I should have never switched from Scotch to Martinis.” These examples of desperate and meaningless last words summarize desperate and meaningless lives.
But when it comes to famous last words, there are none more important than those of Jesus Christ. In seven short statements, Jesus summarized not only His life and ministry, but He summarized all that God put into motion the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. We live in a world that has so many diluted definitions of who Jesus is and what His death on the Cross means. In a brand new message series this month entitled, “Last Words,” we will examine the final words of Jesus and come to better understand the simplicity and magnitude of the Cross. This series will powerfully impact those who have followed Jesus for years, and it will be an eye-opener for those who have never really understood why Jesus died such a cruel death on the Cross.
The irony of Jesus’ last words is that they don’t reflect a dying Savior. Instead, they represent the essence of life that comes only from His death. Of all the famous last words that are interesting–even humorous–it’s Jesus’ last words that are worth remembering:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
“I thirst.” (John 19:28)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)