LOVE AND LAST WORDS
“I am about to – or I am going to – die: either expression is correct.” These were the last words of French grammarian and Jesuit priest, Dominique Bouhours. While his last words clearly demonstrate his passion for grammar and devotion to language, I’m not so sure that I would choose them to be my last words.
Do you ever wonder what your last words will be? I would like to think mine will be profound, or memorable. I’d like to think they would honour Christ and leave a lasting impression on those with me. But who knows what they will be? Will I even have a choice? Maybe I’ll tell Stephen to make sure he tucks his chair under the table when he gets up.
In the lead-up to Easter, I spent time considering Jesus last words on the cross. There are seven sentences uttered by Jesus on the cross, collated from across the four gospels.
One thing that struck me was that three of the seven sentences He uttered were expressions of love and care for others. He hung on the cross in excruciating pain and agony. He had been betrayed, deserted, beaten, humiliated, stripped, flogged, had a crown of thorns placed on His head, and then nailed to a cross.
Did He rail against the injustice? Did He curse those who crucified Him? Or those who betrayed Him? Did He exhibit self-pity?
Jesus asked His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him. He assured the criminal on the cross next to Him that he would be with Him in paradise. He commended His mother and His disciple John into the care of each other.
In his devotion, “Through the Bible Through the Year”, John Stott writes, “He had nothing left now to give way; even His clothes had been taken from Him. But He was still able to give people His love. The cross is the epitome of His self-giving – as He showed His concern for the men who crucified Him, the mother who bore Him, and the penitent thief who was dying at His side.”
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
The one who taught His followers to love their enemies practised what He preached as he was dying. When He had so little, He still gave love.
LOVE SO AMAZING, SO DIVINE…
The love of God never ceases to amaze me. We hear so much about God’s love that we can become desensitised to its stunning beauty and power.
I wonder sometimes what it would be like to be one of Jesus disciples, to watch Him interact with people, to see His love in action. One of the youngest disciples, John, was also amongst those who perhaps knew Jesus best. He and his brother James were dubbed “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus. When some Samaritans didn’t receive Jesus in their village, James and John asked Jesus if He wanted them to call down fire to consume them. In the gospel of Mark we read that James and John approached Jesus and asked that they sit in the places of honour at His left and right hand when He sat on His throne in His kingdom. These are not actions that look great on a humility and gentleness resume. Yet, at the Last Supper, we read that John was reclining at the table next to Jesus. The King James version translates it that John was, “leaning on Jesus’ bosom”.
One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side.
Despite John’s impulsiveness, temper and self-promotion, he knew exactly how Jesus felt about him. Jesus loved him.
God loves us, not because of anything we have done, but because of who He is. You can put “God is Love” stickers on your car, magnets on your fridge, bookmarks in your Bible. You can tell your family, friends and neighbours that God loves them. The words slide easily off our tongue. But do you let the truth of the depth of God’s love for you sink deep into your soul? Do you let it form your identity? Do you see yourself as “the one whom Jesus loved”? Do you let it define your relationship with your Heavenly Father?
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.
Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT
You. Are. Loved.
Our love is responsive in nature. It’s because God loves us that we love Him. It’s because God loves us that we love others. It’s God’s love that should motivate us to obey and follow Him. We can’t earn it and don’t deserve it, yet it is freely given and transforms us from the inside out.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19
Why not take a moment today to contemplate the immeasurable love of God for you?
This is my prayer for you:
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:18-19 NTL
Your Care Team Pastor,
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