One of our Elders put this subject into my head recently. He was speaking on 3rd John from the Bible and he read this verse:
Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. (3 John 1:12, NASB)
My mind drifted off to a number of places (but I was still listening Andrew, honest!). As I wondered about my own testimony, I thought about what could be put on my headstone someday (well, as you do!). Like Demetrius, would I be known as someone who always "received a good testimony from everyone"? Hmm, I cant see my family and friends stretching the truth that far! In fact, if it was down to my work colleagues it could well read "Big Bad Barry, the Bible Bashing Baptist". Our own mortality is not something we like to dwell on. However, I guess we should all remember that what we do in this life can make such an impact on those around us, especially those not of our faith. And of course, in this life, whether we accept or refuse God's free gift of salvation will have eternal consequences.
My mind also flipped to a couple of humorous tombstone inscriptions that I had read about over the years. Death is perhaps a strange topic to try and bring humour to and yet it does happen within our culture. One of the inscriptions I was thinking about belongs to the former English comedian, Spike Milligan. Always the joker, it bears the Gaelic words "Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite", or translated into English, "I told you I was ill"! (see photo above)
The other one may be fictional but it comes up on many searches on the web…
Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so shall you be.
Remember this and follow me.
To which someone apparently wrote on the tombstone:
To follow you I'll not consent
Until I know which way you went.
I also thought of a few likely epitaphs from the Bible…
Perhaps Paul's could have been (from 2 Tim 4:7)…
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith
King David's could have been from his great Psalm, Psalm 23…
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4)
And the last place my mind floated to was the Garden Tomb in Israel (see photo).
I was fortunate enough to visit the Garden Tomb a few years ago and we happened to be the last group in the garden before it closed for that evening. The highlight for me was seeing the tomb as the Garden was closing. The door of the normally open tomb was closed. It was only then that I noticed the words on the door, "He is not here: for He is risen".
Now that's an epitaph! As we approach Easter and the celebration of Jesus' sacrifice for us and His glorious resurrection, let us all remember that "He is not here: for He is risen" (Matt 28:6)
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:8)
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
(All quotations are from the KJV, unless otherwise noted)
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