What do you think of when someone asks, what were his or her last words? or Did he or she have any last words? Often times people may say, they love you or take care of the family or some sort of goodbye that gives the person a chance to have one of his or her final wishes carried out after they are gone. Then their are a lot of famous last words that we have all herd in the movies such as, “I’ll be back” or “live long and prosper”, but I think the most famous last words come directly from the Word of God.
In Genesis chapter 49, Jacob (Israel) gives his last words to his 12 sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel. Each of the last words Jacob gives carries with it great meaning.
When you believe you have come to the end of your life, What will your last words be? Better yet, what will be said of you by those closest to you? If today the person closest to you wrote their last words about you, what might it say? This can be a hard aspect of our lives to reflect on because it causes us to do a self-evaluation of who we have become. Are you going to be like a Reuban, where Jacob was proud of his first born but yet told him that he was unstable as water? Ouch! How about the words to Judah about him being someone his brothers will praise. You can go to Genesis 49 and read all the last words he gave to each of his children.
One of the greatest last words comes from Jesus in the Gospel of John where He is hanging on the cross and says, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This statement is interesting because it is only mentioned in the Gospel of John. The Greek translation for this is Tetelestai, Teleo, teleios, or telos, and their are five uses of this word in the Greek. Now His final words before His death were not a cry of despair; it is a triumphant announcement of victory. Below are the five different uses of the word Tetelestai (it is finished).
• Servant: The task is completed! (Hebrews 5:9)
• Judge: Justice has been served! (Romans 8:3-4)
• Accountant: The debt has been paid in full! (Colossians 2:14)
• Artist: The picture is finished! (2 Cor 1:20)
• Priest: The perfect offering has been given! (1 Peter 1:19; Heb 10:14)
No one took Jesus’ life from Him. He gave up His spirit freely and willingly. John makes it clear that Jesus died on the cross. He did not merely swoon as some skeptics have hypothesized in an effort to explain the empty tomb. Therefore the last words of Jesus according to the Gospel of John, carry with it great meaning and significance.
Then their is the last words of Paul in 2nd Timothy chapter 4, where he gives Timothy much encouragement and instruction before he goes into glory. Although what I find most interesting is his confidence of the life and work he has done for the Lord. “6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2nd Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV). Can we, with confidence, say that if we knew we were going to die today that we have fought the good fight? Kept the faith? A crown of righteousness is laid up for us?
Each of us have a choice to live in a way that honors our family name. If you are in the family of God as John 1:12 states, then you represent the name of Jesus. Do you have confidence of the life you live as Paul did? What needs to change in your life right now in order that you will represent the family name in a way that honors Christ? What needs to change in order for us to have confidence like the Apostle Paul? What will your last words be?
Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV)
1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
John 1:12 (NKJV)
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…
John 19:30 (NKJV)
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
Romans 8:3-4 (NKJV)
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Colossians 2:14 (NKJV)
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
2nd Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
1st Peter 1:19 (NKJV)
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Hebrews 10:14 (NKJV)
14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
1 And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:
2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob,
And listen to Israel your father.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
My might and the beginning of my strength,
The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it—
He went up to my couch.
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
6 Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.
8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
11 Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.
13 “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;
He shall become a haven for ships,
And his border shall adjoin Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between two burdens;
15 He saw that rest was good,
And that the land was pleasant;
He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden,
And became a band of slaves.
16 “Dan shall judge his people
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way,
A viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heels
So that its rider shall fall backward.
18 I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!
19 “Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him,
But he shall triumph at last.
20 “Bread from Asher shall be rich,
And he shall yield royal dainties.
21 “Naphtali is a deer let loose;
He uses beautiful words.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall.
23 The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.
24 But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at night he shall divide the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.