This Blog note was taken from the book: “When Time Stands Still”
Pen name – Rebecca Hickson
We live our lives from one day to the next, one week to the next. The months flow into years. The days arrive when we stand at a gravesite or in the memorial service. We hear or say many words to express what that person’s life meant to us. It is one of those moments, “When Time Stands Still”. We endure the numbness with the death of a loved one. Time stands still while a clock ticks to the beat of a hypnotic song. A line of friends converse with strangers, some with giddy laughter, as they hide their pain in the numbness of reality. Others weep at the unspoken words of love, the smile left unseen, the hug of appreciation, which never happened. All this self-reproach can be put into an empty box, in the corner of one’s fading memory. A little too late are the unspoken words to the one who would have appreciated them most. Now the body sleeps, lifeless and cold, an empty shell, in a shiny wooden casket. The shell remains yet the soul and spirit go to some other place.
We fill the room with a garden of flowers, but the smell of death lingers with an over-powering stench of stagnating weeds. It is a three or four-day ritual which leaves people with simple yet unanswerable questions. Whys? What ifs? Questions that get lost in a barrage of thoughts. We ponder over fond memories and look at pictures of times we shared.
The memories bring a moment of refreshing laughter, until reality comes crashing down. A cloud burst of tears swell up from the depth of emotionalism, leaving emptiness, which wrenches the very soul. Ties are broken and lives are altered. One day or one minute can change our lives forever. Some people carry the pain not just through this day, but also with them to their own death.
Blessed is the one who can take comfort in God’s promises and does not have to walk through the valley of death alone, but instead, walk hand and hand with the Author of Life. The parlour may be full of people whom their own love has blinded. They mourn an empty shell, of what was once beautiful and full of vitality. Unknown to them, Jesus has delivered the soul from the enemy of death. It is through salvation, which was given through faith in The Saviour Christ Jesus.
What happens to all of us, who pour out our sentiments onto the columns of the obituary pages? Are our lives filled with empty words and grief, which are really nothing more, then an inkblot on a page of recycled newspaper? Do we reap the joy of His salvation? Do we inherit God’s promised kingdom of eternal life, a heavenly place where times stands still forever? Heaven is a place where love and perfection abounds, in the presence of a great and awesome God. To get there, we must know and understand the last words spoken by The Saviour and receive Him and His truth. As you read through this impacting sermon from last Easter weekend, I pray that all who read these words would seek to know Jesus – God, who offers it all. I pray all would accept His Mercy, the gift of eternal life. Simplicity at its finest, the gift is Christ Jesus, a gift waiting to be unwrapped. Open it.
The last words spoken by Jesus Messiah while enduring such moments of suffering, rejection and separation from God the Father, are words to take to heart and really ponder. They are the most powerful last words spoken. His words are for each one of us.
Famous Last Words (preached April 2014)
Summary: The last words of a dying man can tell us a great deal about his life; the last words of Jesus on the cross are a message to us of what Jesus’ life was about and what our lives should be.
Luke 23:33-46 (ESV)
“33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,[b] “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[c] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour,[d] and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,[e] 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
John 19:25-30 (ESV)
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The last words of a dying man tell us a great deal about him.
Famous last words in history:
1. Entrepreneur, P. T. Barnum, d. 1891 “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
2. John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942 “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”
3. Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957 “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
4. Before slipping into a coma and dying 9 days later; Sir Winston Churchill, the statesman who is famous for his commencement address of “Never give up!” died January 24, 1965 with this last words. “I’m bored with it all.” Sounds like he gave up to me!
5. To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity; the revolutionary communist, Karl Marx, died in 1883 with these last words… “Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
6. Writer Oscar Wilde, died November 30, 1900 saying, “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
7. William Saroyan was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer of plays, short stories, and novels whose works were noted for their sentimental optimism. Before his death in 1981, Saroyan telephoned his final words to the Associated Press. “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”
8. Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, died in 1702; his last words… “I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct.”
9. Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, d.1170 “I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”
But there is one man in history whose last words not only tell us a great deal about him, but also tell us a great deal about how we should live our lives. Some 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was hung on a cross to die for the sins of the whole world.
Seven phrases were recorded from his lips on that day.Those famous last words are revelation to us about our Saviour and about our own lives as his believers.
Those last seven sentences that Jesus spoke from the cross teach us that our saviour was:
1/ A Man of Forgiveness
Lk.23: 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus was the same in life and in death. These were not words Jesus said as He died but never said them before. They were words He lived by.
Look with me at:
Luke 6:27-29 (ESV)27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either.
Jesus lived a life of forgiveness and he died still showing forgiveness. His last words teach us that Jesus was:
2/ A Man of Mission
Lk. 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Wow, even when it would have been very easy to focus on his own pain and heartache, Jesus remembered what He was about.
Luke 19:10 (ESV) 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Even with His last breath, Jesus was living out His purpose in life. We can lose our perspective and forget what we are here for. It is so easy to be self consumed and not think of anyone else especially when we are going through a hard time. But Jesus stayed focused on His mission, to come and save the lost.
His last words teach us that Jesus was:
3/ A Man of Compassion
John 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus was always thinking about others. He felt compassion towards His mother and towards John. He felt compassion towards the one on the cross next to Him (today you…) He felt compassion towards the soldiers (Father forgive them…) and He felt compassion for the whole human race as He hung on the cross to take away the sin of the World.
Someone has said, “Family is the place where they won’t kick you out.” But the families in North America are breaking apart due to divorce, abuse and absent fathers and mothers who chose selfish ambitions over responsible integrity. Those who are true followers of Jesus are GOD’s family. When you’ve been caste out in life, God’s family is “the place where you won’t be kicked out.”
Jesus said, “Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ’Here is your mother.”
Jesus last words while He was on the cross teach us that Jesus was:
4/ A Man of Communion
Matthew 27:45-46 (ESV) -45 Now from the sixth hour[a] there was darkness over all the land[b] until the ninth hour.[c] 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Now GOD the father has turned His face from GOD the son. Jesus has been in perfect union with GOD the Father since the beginning of time. The Christ and the Father both are Alpha and Omega (which means the first and the last) they always have been, always will be. They both claim the title of the great “I Am” (Meaning that they are and always have been).
This is why they are GOD. My friends, if we could explain where GOD came from then He wouldn’t be GOD would He? GOD the Father and GOD the Son living in perfect submission to each other and now Jesus hangs on a cross to take upon Himself the sin of the World. And if Jesus has the sin of the world on Him then the wrath of GOD is poured out upon Jesus for our sin. (I hope you follow me on this point.It is a little convoluted). For a brief time, the perfect union between GOD the Father and GOD the Son is broken. The communion is broken. The greatest pain of the death of Jesus was his separation from GOD the Father. The son was separated from the Father for our sakes. The greatest pain of Christ on the cross was not physical but spiritual. In all of eternity the Father and the Son had been one. In this moment, the Son understood separation from the Father.
The next words of Jesus on the cross teach us that Jesus was:
5/ A Man of Humanity
“I thirst!” (John 19:28ESV)
We must never forget that Jesus took on humanity. Jesus is 100% GOD but also 100% human. That is hard to explain, but He is GOD. He can do what He wants. I am so thankful that He loved us so much that He chose to become a human, so that He could live a sinless life and then die in our place and take our sin upon Himself. This was His sacrifice for us so that we could choose to accept His free gift of eternal life.
When Jesus was on earth as a human, He had all the same traits as us. Here on the cross we see that He is thirsty. Elsewhere in the bible we read that Jesus was hungry, tired, angry, sad, and He was tempted to sin just like each one of us. The difference is that He never gave in to temptation and never sinned. If He had sinned, He couldn’t have taken away our sin. He would have had the same problem we have. A sinner can not die for a sinner. We needed a perfect spotless sacrifice. Only GOD could have done that for us. He didn’t have to, but He loved us so much that He did.
“I am thirsty.” Jesus confesses of His weakness. Don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses because it is in our weakness that GOD becomes strong.
The sixth thing that we learn about Jesus from His last words on the cross is that He was:
6/ A Man of Destiny
Jn. 19:30 …Jesus said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Jesus knew what He came to do and He knew when that mission was accomplished. It is finished. He could say that with complete confidence. Jesus understood His destiny; the destiny He faced and He entered into with total faith.
And the final words of Jesus on the cross teach us that He was:
7/ A Man of Submission
Lk. 23:46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
With his last breath, Jesus was committed to remaining in submission to GOD the Father. This reflection of Jesus total trust in GOD the Father. Wow! What a demonstration of the kind of faith we should live in. Paul said, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He too understand absolute trust and submission to the Father.
We have not lost if we know in whose hands we are held. Whether stripped of our possessions, reputation, physical or mental health, we need not be anxious, because our lives are not like dry leaves, blown and tossed by the wind. We are lovingly and eternally held in our Father’s hands.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
These final words of Jesus offer eternal confidence and eternal relationship. There is the promise of forgiveness, the promise of Heaven, the promise of family, the promise of God’s watchfulness, the promise of resources and resolve, and the promise of God’s sovereign care. Praise be to God!
Sermon notes – Pastor Bryan Vaughan
Hope For Today Fellowship