Dying Declarations

3:22 PMHeather

Much of the coverage of 9/11 remembrances brought me to tears.  Okay, most of the coverage of 9/11 remembrances brought me to tears.  The heart wrenching scenes and reports felt raw and painful, as I believe they should.  How can we be changed and learn from it if we don't continue to feel its impact?  

I think the most difficult yet inspirational coverage I have heard involves the dying declarations of the victims.  The phone messages left or conversations had as those on the airplanes or in the buildings realized their fate.  What a precious gift they left--affirming their love for their family and friends, giving instructions and admonitions for life.  Perhaps my heart is tendered to these accounts because I never got to say good-bye to my dad?  And, I've always felt it would have helped me grieve if I just could have had him tell me one last time that he loved me, that I should carry on, that he knew what his fate was to be and he accepted it.

Sunday morning, our pastor shared the amazing story of a victim in the buildings, working in a floor above the impact.  Knowing there was no escape for them, he gathered his 50 or so coworkers and shared the gospel with them.  The families of the coworkers shared this with his widow, as their family members phoned or e-mailed before their deaths and told what was happening in their final moments.  

Dying declarations.  To have a chance to say what you want to say--what needs to be said.   To take that opportunity--before your impending last breath--to share your heart with those most dear to you.  Certainly, in those last moments of life, you share your deepest heart and strongest convictions for those whom you count as most precious to you.

Did you know that as your Savior stared death in the face, he was offering a dying declaration for YOU?  YOU were on His mind.  You were the one with whom he wanted to share His heart.  As death loomed near, he used those last moments to pray for you and for me.  Check it out for yourself in John 17:20-26.  This passage is Jesus' prayer, after the Last Supper and before His arrest.   

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
   25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Just picture it.  He knows that death is imminent--he knows his fate.  And, he uses that dying declaration to plead to His Father on behalf of all believers--on OUR behalf.  This is what He asked:
*for God to give us a spirit of unity
*that we show His love to a lost world in order to win them over *that we would know we are as loved as God loved his Son
*that we would BE with Him
*that we would see His glory
*that we would have HIS love in us
*that we would have CHRIST in us

INTENTIONAL challenge:  I have heard the voice mails of the people on Flight 93.  It gives me goosebumps to hear them--particularly the one where the husband tells his wife how much he loves her and to do good in her life--basically to live well.  I have wondered what it would feel like to hear such a message and the legacy of such words.  But the truth is--I have received such a message.  And so have you.  I challenge you today to take a few minutes and read the above passage as it was written.  A dying declaration from a Savior to his beloved children as death loomed near.

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