So many great words have been spoken, or written, down through the years; so many that have stood the test of time and are still used today to inspire, to encourage or to teach. Is it possible that there are three words that are greater than all of the others, and if so who said them and when, what makes them the greatest words ever spoken, why are they the most inclusive, and why are they relevant to us today?
Well, let’s have a look at my ‘Top Six’ favourite three-word phrases, in reverse order, and then why the greatest three words ever spoken are indisputable and encompass all of the others…
No. 6 “Veni, vidi, vici.” (Julius Caesar) “I came, I saw, I conquered.” (1st Century BC)
A phrase used by the greatest Roman General and the first Roman Emperor, following an easy win in the Battle of Zela in 47BC. Over 2,000 years later this snappy phrase is still in common use, and makes it to number 6 on my list of all-time greatest three-word phrases.
No. 5 “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.” (French Revolution) liberty, equality, fraternity (friendship) (18thCentury)
A phrase forged in the cauldron of bloody revolution, this phrase was coined by revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre in 1790 and has since gone on to become the beating heart of the French Constitution. A great three-word motto to live by, even if its origins were quite the opposite. Number 5 on my list of phrases.
No. 4 “We the people…” (Constitution of the United States of America) (18th Century)
The opening three words of the pre-amble to the Constitution of the United States of America in 1787 make it clear that the document that follows is, as President Abraham Lincoln famously said in his Gettysburg address almost a century later, “…government of the people, by the people, for the people…” An important three-word phrase for anyone who believes in democracy, making it to number 4 on my list.
No 3. “Their finest hour” (Winston Churchill) (20th Century)
When Churchill spoke these famous words, following victory in the Battle of Britain during the early stages of World War 2 in 1940, he once again mobilised the English language and sent it into war, inspiring a nation to ultimate victory. The debt owed to “the few” of the Royal Air Force that gave so much should never be forgotten, and Churchill’s words will ensure that they are not. Number 3 on my list.
No 2. “I love you!”
In a departure from historical phrases, this three-word phrase is perhaps the one many might have thought would be number 1 on my list! It’s a phrase we use often, but maybe not often enough; a phrase that means so much to the receiver, a phrase that changes lives, futures, worlds. Were it not for the eternity shaking power of the number 1 three-word phrase on my list this one would easily win, but it only comes in at number 2…
No.1 “It is finished!” (Jesus Christ) (1st Century)
The last words spoken by Jesus Christ as he gave up his life on the cross of Golgotha around 33AD. His ministry finished, his mission completed, the work he had been preparing for for all eternity was done. In death, victory; freedom for all people who believe in him. In these three words Jesus encapsulated the meaning of all of the other five phrases on my list.
Jesus came, he saw our need, he conquered our sin. He gave us liberty from guilt, equality with him as heirs of God, and his eternal friendship. He did it for all people and completed this extraordinary ministry with his finest hour. He did it because he loves us, all of us, and that is why the greatest three words in all of history are the three words he uttered on the cross as he died for us all… “It is finished!”
And these words count for everyone. In a week where we have seen a spotlight shone on racism in sport, have seen huge increases in the reporting of hate crimes against people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, people of faith, and disabled people; a week where underlying political and national intolerance and prejudice is once again exposed, we can in confidence know that Jesus came for everyone. He sees only our hearts, our faith, that is what is important to him; that is why the person who uttered the greatest phrase of all time is also the most accessible and inclusive person of all time too.
Maybe we should all think about what he has to say…
‘I Too Have A Dream’
‘Accessible Jesus, Modelling Inclusion’
Image rights: © Unknown