It started out as joke. I was offered the last three weeks in June to preach a series before my upcoming trip the States. My mind being what it is, I immediately thought of Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture,” and thought up the ominous-sounding title: “The Last Series.” It would most likely have a small subtitle “until the next one” or “in June.” As it turns out, no one around here knows who Randy Pausch is, so I changed tacks and came up with the title “The Last Words,” with the tagline, “What would you say if you knew they would be your last words?”
I thought it sounded catchy, but naturally they couldn’t be my last words. I’m a stickler for expository preaching. This led me to think about several people whose last words are recorded for us in Scripture. Not surprisingly, I picked Moses (whose last words are the basically the whole book of Deuteronomy), Paul (whose last words aren’t necessarily recorded, but 2 Timothy gets pretty close), and of course, Jesus.
I won’t go into all the details of each message because I want to get to a point (and I’m sure you want me to do so as well).
There are a number of ways to approach the last words of Jesus Christ. One can take it literally: the last thing He said on the cross (there is no lack of “The Seven Sayings of Jesus” material out there). The idea can be broadened a bit, and focus on His final words to the disciples before His crucifixion. But as I considered how I was going to handle it, it hit me:
Jesus will never speak His last words.
When speaking of Jesus’ “last words,” we always have to qualify a context. His last words to His disciples. His last words on the cross. Death has a way of rendering men speechless, but Jesus has a way of rendering death powerless. He rose again. So we must resort to more qualifying: His last words before His ascension. His words to Paul at his conversion. His words to John in Revelation. Surely, way at the end, in chapter 22, where He says He is coming quickly—those are his last words! Well, possibly the last ones recorded, but still not His last, because I imagine we will be doing most of the listening in eternity.
The Bible speaks of two different words as eternal: God’s Word, as in, the Scriptures (Is. 40:8; the same of Jesus’ words in Mt 24:35), and Jesus Himself, the incarnate Word (John 1:1; 14). Over the course of human history, God has revealed the written word to mankind, with the goal of pointing to the incarnate Word. It is God’s revelation, pointing to God revealed—God with us. Jesus is God’s ultimate and final word (Hb 1:1-2). Everything we need to know about His final Word is found in His written word. And neither will ever pass away.
I have already spoken on Moses and Paul at church, so I’m looking forward to the final Sunday in the series, as I speak of Jesus’ “last words.” It is encouraging to think that Jesus will never speak His last words; and yet humbling to think that He will always have the last word.
I can only hope that my last words—when the time comes for me to say them—will ring with a passion for God’s written Word as they point to God’s ultimate and final Word, Jesus Christ.