Summary: It is interesting how people leave this life. Some scream, plead and curse. Others go confessing, some go stoically waiting for the inescapable. Most go with fear and hopelessness. Certainly not the case with our Lord and it need not be with us.
Dr. Edward Wilson was the famous British doctor who went with Captain Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic. In 1891 as an undergraduate at Cambridge University he was nicknamed “Bill the Cynic.” He was argumentative, disagreeable and he had a sharp, bitter, nasty tongue. Writing to a friend he had offended, he confessed, “I know I am hard, proud, conceited,scornful, bitter and insulting very often and always selfish…..” He was a miserable person whose life was in constant turmoil. Year later, however, as the physician on that terrible journey to the South pole and in circumstances of extreme provocation, the same Edward Wilson was nicknamed “Bill the peacemaker.” Captain Scott wrote about him in that last hour as they lay dying in their tent: “If this letter reaches anyone, Bill and I have gone together. We are very near it now and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end, everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others. His eyes have a comfortable look of hope, and his mind is peaceful with the satisfaction of his faith in regarding himself as part of the great scheme of the Almighty.” The truth is that Dr. Edward Wilson came to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ and his life was gloriously changed for the better. He became a new creation in Christ and was able to leave this life, in the worst of circumstances, with a song in his soul and hope in his heart..
What a contrast his passing was with the way in which most people leave this life. Most don’t depart with a song in their soul and hope in their heart. The noted historian and infidel Edward Gibbon’s last words were, “All is now lost, finally, irrecoverably lost. All is dark and doubtful.” Clarence Darrow, the agnostic lawyer of the Scopes Trial fame, was so distraught as he lay on his deathbed he commanded his law clerk to get him three clergymen. When they arrived he confessed that he had written and spoken many things against. God and he pleaded with them to intercede with the Almighty on his behalf. David Hume, the famous atheistic philosopher, was a sad sight as he was about to leave this life. His housekeeper who was with him during his last moments said, “his mental agitation was so great at times as to occasion his whole bed to shake.” He was so distraught and frightened he would not allow the lights to be put out during the night nor would he be left alone for a minute.
It is interesting to note how people leave this life. Some go screaming, pleading and cursing. Others go confessing. Still others go tight-lipped, stoically waiting for the inevitable. Most go with fear and hopelessness. Such was certainly not the case with our Lord and it need not be the case with us.. “The final statements of even the most ordinary people have a way of fixing themselves firmly in the memories of those who hear them. The words of dying men are always sacred; the last words of those we love linger in our minds.” “It is no surprise, then, that the statements Jesus made as he was dying on Calvary should have stuck like burrs in the minds of those who were closest to Him.” Luke 23 tells us of His death when in verse 44 it says, “….JESUS CALLED OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE, ‘FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.’ WHEN HE HAD SAID THIS, HE BREATHED HIS LAST.”