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THE FINAL WORDS OF CHRIST
by Philip Owen

            We tend to give special weight to parting words—rightly so.  When children leave for school or a spouse leaves for work in the morning, many feel compelled to offer “I love you” as the last thing heard.  When we depart from infrequently seen loved ones, our parting words are often more poignant than at any other time.  The last rational words of someone on his deathbed are frequently of great significance as well.  At such junctures, the last thing said is often measured to convey lasting import, whether comfort, encouragement, warning, or exhortation.  Though all words in the Bible are equally inspired and authoritative, we would be remiss to ignore the value of Christ’s parting words.

            Final words from the cross:  “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Lk. 23:46).  Though a prayer to His Heavenly Father (quoting Psalm 31:5), these words of the Lord Jesus reveal rich truth for us.  They reflect the faith, trust, and confidence that the Lord Jesus rested in God.  They express an assurance that the infinite breach that moments before had existed between the Father and the Son when Christ became the Sin-bearer and God poured out His wrath upon His innocent and perfect Son had been closed.  They manifest the confident assurance that God’s plan to make Christ’s soul an offering for sin was perfect and that His will had been accomplished.  They are the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:  “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (53:11).  They assure believers that Christ did indeed secure their justification.

            Final words from His earthly ministry:  “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses . . .” (Acts 1:7, 8).  These words, spoken just before His ascension, provided the eleven disciples (and us) with invaluable information.  They say we are to be a people of faith.  God has not revealed everything we may want to know—only what we need to know to serve Him faithfully and glorify Him fully.  Had the disciples been told that it would be 2,000 years and counting before He came in His kingdom, they might have become depressed, despairing, or lethargic.  But without that specific information, they lived in great anticipation.  Furthermore, they were given three concrete pieces of information regarding their future conduct in Christ’s absence.  First, they would receive a supernatural power heretofore unknown by them, something greater even than the miracle-working power they had received while Christ was on the earth.  Second, they would not be left as orphans, but Christ Himself would indwell them in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  Third, with that power through the indwelling Spirit they would be ordained to testify of the Person and saving work of Christ which they had witnessed.  Still today, though the apostolic witness and unique gifts have ceased, believers have the same indwelling Spirit whose power fills them for the same purpose:  to draw others to Christ through the testimony of a transformed life and redeemed words.

            Final words to the church:  “Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20).  Could any statement have packed so much power into so few words?  It assures the weary, the discouraged, the suffering, and the grieving of the truth that the burdens and trials of this life may at any moment melt away once and forever into the absolute and perfect bliss of eternity.  It encourages the Bride to long for His appearing.  But it also serves to exhort the church not to grow weary in well-doing, not to faint, not to become lethargic or lackadaisical because the opportunity to sow might end at any moment.  And it is a warning to be sanctified because the Bride is to make herself ready for the appearing of the Bridegroom.  He wants a Bride who loves Him, looks for Him, and prepares to meet Him with diligence and eagerness.  May we give the weight to these words from our Faithful and True Lord that they deserve.       

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