Yesterday I gave the link to a YouTube clip of the Oprah Show (how often does that happen?) It showed Randy Pausch re-doing a speech he titled "The Last Lecture" (based in the tradition of what a professor might hypothetically say to his students if he knew he was going to die). If you have watched it, you know that Randy knows he is going to die so this exercise is more than an exercise.
The question I posed yesterday was what we might put in our own 'last lecture?' What themes, beliefs and hopes would we use to summarize our life?
It got me thinking about the 'last lecture' of Jesus. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus is with his disciples and gives his own version of a Last Lecture. It is found in its most detailed form in John 13-17. The themes Jesus repeats have to do with Love (its the hallmark of discipleship), staying connected to God through Jesus (he is the Vine and we are the branches) , Unity ('that they may be one') and courage ('I have overcome the world').
Sometimes I think we skim past this section because our focus is on the the crucifixion or the resurrection. Reading it as Jesus' Last lecture gives it a different emphasis. These four chapters go a long way in summarizing the heart of who Jesus is and what he was trying to get across to his disciples. 2,000 years later, I think it still is.