Friday, January 15, 2016

Any Value In Last Words?

(Following is an excerpt from "Dying Words, Living Words" by William E. Johnson, available on and in bookstores everywhere.)

Last words. They are the "period" at the end of the sentence that was a life.

We are often fascinated by a person's last words. "Thomas Jefferson still survives," said John Adams, the second President of the United States right before he died on July 4, 1826. He didn't know it at the time, but Jefferson had actually died earlier that same day. Jefferson's last words were, "Is it the Fourth?"

Sometimes last words reveal surprise at a life taken before it's time. "Et tu, Brute?" was the last question from the bloody and astonished lips of Gaius Julius Caesar, who was assassinated in 44 BC. "My God. What's happened?" said Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales, moments before she died in a tragic automobile accident on August 31, 1997.

Last words can be sad... poignant. "I have tried so hard to do the right," said Grover Cleveland just before dying in 1908. "All my possessions for a moment of time," whispered the dying Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. And "Lord help my poor soul," were the sad last words from the poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe on October 7, 1849.

Romance even comes out in last words. "Josephine..." breathed Napoleon Bonaparte with his final breath in 1821. "I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you," said James K. Polk to his wife just before closing his eyes on earth for the last time.

And of course, last words can even be humorous to a point. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...." said General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, just before being killed in battle during the US Civil War.

But of all the last words ever spoken, none compare to the last words of the dying Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. Many books have been written, and sermons preached, on the seven sayings of Christ from the cross. This book is another attempt to mine the treasures found in those seven sayings.
But Jesus' last words were not spoken from the cross. Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to His disciples during the ensuing 40 day period. He then spoke with Mary Magdalene and several other women. He spoke with Peter, James, and with the eleven. He spoke with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He spoke with over 500 disciples at once on one occasion, and He spoke with Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road. And those sayings are just as instructive and worthy of our study as the seven sayings from the cross.

No comments: