“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30, emphasis mine)
Such sweet sorrow
Some pretty famous last words, so to speak, if I do say so myself. I like how in renditions of the King James Version of the Bible (haven’t checked them all), whenever someone speaks, their expression begins with a capital. A seemingly random capital letter to indicate monologue or dialogue or diatribe or parable, et al. Perhaps the quotation marks hadn’t been invented by 1611? Don’t want to die a critic! Hah! Bad joke, sorry. A diacritic is a little punctuation mark (much like those used to denote speech) such as the accent or umlaut you might find above certain vowels as they appear in other languages. Can’t say the quotation marks fall under the diacritic category but I’m not sure.
But all that aside, can you see how those might be considered Jesus’ last words? The veracity would be contingent on the fact that maybe perhaps He continued to speak words after having died (*whispering* which necessarily means He had to have come back to life; see Luke 28:38-40). Look at this (Romans 5:14-15):
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”
So what Paul is saying to the Roman Christians reading his letter (and, by extension, us) is that we now encounter death as a result of Adam’s original sin. And whether or not you assent to the fact that maybe perhaps there was something about our homo sapien physiology that prevented us from dying prior to 6000 years ago, or not, the fact that we are “born to die” (see Hebrews 9:27) is an unassailable fact. A law, really.
As an aside, do you know the difference between eulogy, panegyric, epitaph, and obituary? A eulogy is a kind word or remembrance spoken of someone after their passing and a panegyric is simply the same yet more so (think “Greek orator”). An epitaph is perhaps the same thing as the former two yet carved in stone, the headstone. And an obituary (“obit”) is a printed notice of a person’s death. But as I (and Christians) believe that Jesus rose from the dead, the Bible is more than Christ’s obituary, more than a eulogy or even a panegyric, for that matter. The morbidity of such a gruesome martyrdom holds within its telling the greatest joy that mankind and the world has ever known. Because there are things outside of what Christ was referring to (namely, everything good) that aren’t finished but that are just beginning.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13)
Referring again to Paul’s passage, it would seem that he’s equating “grace” with “life.” I agree from both a theological and also a semantic standpoint. I mean, he sort-of sews up this whole idea of “death through Adam but life through Christ” at the end of (Romans) chapter 6 (verse 23) with:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
But think again of the concept of “last words.” What do you want your last words to be? And are you afraid of death? As an aside, Paul says again over in his first letter to the Corinthians (15:31) that he “[dies] daily.” He’s echoing Christ’s declaration of denying ourselves, “tak[ing] up [our] cross daily, and follow[ing Him].” (Luke 9:23, emphasis mine) In other words, we have the opportunity to be saying something of finality and of moving forward into “newness of life” (see Romans 6:4) every single day. And so, as I see it, any words we choose to speak to Him tonight (or, really, any time we need a fresh outpouring of His life), can precede a new beginning.
If you’re alive and reading this, know that you will one day speak your very last words. And after that, you will have to explain away (to the Living Word; see John 1:14) every single word that passed your lips leading up to that (see Matthew 12:36).
Tell the Lord if you haven’t already that you would like to die to self so that you can live to Him. There are two types of life in this world. Thy physical with which we’re born and the spiritual that comes from Him alone. Any last words that you speak to Him, in belief and trust, can mark the end of an old life and the beginning of new life in Christ.
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)