Christ’s Last Will and Testament

“Christ the Consolator” (detail) by Carl Bloch


It is very important to listen to what a person says in the final months, days and hours of one’s life.  It can tell us a great deal about that person. But if we cannot actually hear what a person says, if we are not in his or her presence, we can find a written expression of the person’s last wishes in what is called a Last Will and Testament. This legal document is a binding contract set forth by a dying person which both sets out the legal framework for how the person’s estate should be administered, and, more importantly, it genuinely expresses that person’s Will (in the context of what the person wills or desires) for how he or she is to be remembered.

A Last Will and Testament is an expression of the person’s last and deepest desires for what he or she wants to leave behind. For example, leaving one’s possessions to loved ones or making endowments. It can also be considered one’s Testament, or what we might call one’s Testimony, indicating a final expression of what the person’s life was really all about, what mattered most, and often, what one most wanted to communicate about his or her life.

Obviously, some people leave this world with much to distribute in terms of worldly goods or wealth, and others with less. But the amount is not what is important. What matters is that whatever a person states at the end of his or her life, through one’s Will and Testament, is how the person most want people to remembered. Here is the more technical explanation of a Will and Testament for the legally minded.

DEFINITION of a “Last Will and Testament”

A last Will and Testament is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to possessions and dependents. A person’s Last Will and Testament outlines what to do with their possessions, whether they are leaving them to another person or group or donating them to charity, and what happens to other things for which they are responsible, such as custody of dependents and accounts and interests management.

So here is an interesting question, “Where is Jesus Christ’s Last Will and Testament?”  Let’s consider this. 

BREAKING DOWN “Last Will and Testament”

A person writes a will while he/she is alive, and its instructions are carried out once the individual passes away. The Will names a still-living person as the executor (here we will assume the Holy Spirit) of the estate. That person is responsible for administering the estate. The probate court (here we will substitute the phrase God’s Will) supervises the executor to ensure that he carries out wishes specified in the Will.

Despite the fact that Christ was ultimately betrayed by a lawyer, (no criticism intended toward lawyers), it turns out there actually is a written Last Will and Testament handed onto us from Jesus Christ. You will find it in chapters 14-17 of St. John’s Gospel.  These chapters, which were spoken by Christ a day before He died (later written down by John), are well worth the thirty minutes it might take you to read them. This discourse begins at the Last Supper and concludes only a few hours before Jesus was taken prisoner in the Garden of Olives. Jesus knew that He was literally giving the final expression of His Will and His Testimony to His disciples. These four chapters constitute Jesus Christ’s instructions for the administering of His estate; His estate, of course, is the entire world, and we are His beneficiaries.

Here are just some highlights:

  • Part of our inheritance includes a mansion, which Christ is going ahead to prepare (the materials that will ultimately be used for the construction our individual mansions are our earthly lives).
  • The Executor of Christ’s Will is the one He refers to as the “Advocate” or the Holy Spirit. He is the one who will guide us and help us; the Spirit also fulfills Christ’s promise not to leave us orphaned.
  • Jesus’ Will does have some stipulations, as most Wills do. Those who are in it are expected to follow the Commandments He left us.Thankfully the original Ten have been reduced to only Two (test).
  • In His Last Will, Christ also left us the gift of Peace, but we must be “taught” about this truth by the Holy Spirit, as His gift is not what the world understands as peace. The classroom for this is prayer.
  • Christ also left us a Vineyard. Here again, there are some stipulations. It turns out that we ourselves are the actual branches of the vine in the vineyard, but we must agree to bear fruit.
  • The Will of Jesus Christ also promises its recipients that they will experience a complete joy.
  • Jesus did have some enemies (the world) in life; they did not really know Him, nor did they care to. He then explains that these enemies may now choose to hate us, but He has already defeated them.

(John 15:18-25 is worth a very close examination.  Christ does not mince words in His Testimony).

  • Jesus’ Will and Testament rightly acknowledges we may experience weeping and mourning as a result of His apparent absence in our lives. But He promises that all will be well with us in the end.

The remainder of Jesus Christ’s Last Will and Testament is really the fullest expression of His life’s Testimony. In chapter 18 of John’s Gospel, Jesus first acknowledges His impending death. Again, what a people say just before they know they are going to die is very often the truest expression of who they really are as a person. Jesus then goes on to explain what His life was all about. He describes why He came into the world and what His mission was while He was here. He also goes on to beg our Heavenly Father that God might keep Christ’s disciples, all His disciples, ourselves included, from falling into the hands of the enemy. We fall by accepting the enemy’s temptations, and this can include the many distractions which can cause us to fail to live out the fulfillment of Christ’s Will in our lives – see below.

Christ ends His Last Will and Testament with the clearest expression of His final desire for the beneficiaries of His Will. Speaking directly to His Heavenly Father about us, Christ expresses this desire:

“…that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26b)

If we want to enjoy the full fruits available to us as beneficiaries of Jesus Christ’s Last Will and Testament, then we must be prepared to live out His one directive; what He most asks from us is to love.


Copyright © 2019 by Mark Danis


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About the Author

Mark Danis

Mark Danis, OCDS, is co-host of the weekly radio program, Carmelite Conversations, which aired internationally for six years on the Radio Maria network. The program focuses on the method and blessings of contemplative prayer practiced in the in our busy day to day lives. Episodes can be streamed at http://www.carmeliteconversations.com.

Mark's primary ministry is providing teaching and spiritual direction in contemplative prayer and removing the obstacles to prayer. He is grounded primarily in the teachings of the Carmelites, most especially St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

Mark is a popular speaker and often gives large-group presentations and retreats on Prayer and Carmelite spirituality. He also writes a weekly reflection on prayer for a large nation-wide prayer community, and he leads a weekly prayer group focused on the Teresian Method of Prayer. Mark's most recent appearance was at the 2018 OCDS Congress where he delivered a powerful message to more than 400 Secular Carmelites.

Mark attended St. Michael’s college in Winooski, Vermont, where he received his undergraduate degree in English Literature. He later received a masters degree in theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.

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