I’m preparing the last message for my Core Group. I started teaching this guy’s Bible study 6 years ago when they where in 7th grade. They are now Seniors in high school and will be graduating in a couple of weeks. The last things people say are especially significant. So I thought a Biblical review of last words would be a good way to end.
The Last Words of John
“Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4for John had been saying to him: ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet.
On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus” ( Matthew 14:3-12).
The Last Words of Jesus Before His Death
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.”‘ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” ( John 19:25-30).
The Last Words of Jesus Before His Assention
“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:6-9).
The Last Words of Stephen
“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it” (Acts 7:51-53).
The Last Words of Paul to The Ephesian Elders
“17From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
25“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.[a] Be shepherds of the church of God,[b] which he bought with his own blood. 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
36When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship” ( Acts 20:17-38).
I bet that one of the demons that was kicked out of heaven was named Murphy. I’m only half joking. It really seams that since we’ve become missionaries, we’ve had an inordinate number of proofs of Murphy Law.
Just today, one of the links in our latest prayer letter quit working because of a server problem (at TinyURL.com). And I’m trying to get the podcast going. But now when my voice recorder is synced with iTunes, the voice memos are just deleted instead of synced to the PC.
To get to where we live now, you drive to a church camp – and keeping on going. The road dead-ends into our yard. We have 25 acres of mostly wooded land. (I use the terms “our” and “we” loosely as we’re really freeloading off of my in-laws while we raise our support.)
The one neighbor between us and the camp has about the same. And who know how much land the camp has. That’s where I went running yesterday. I ran up the road, cut through the neighbors yard and across the metal and wood bridge covering the creek (my in-laws call it a crick) below and I was off into the woods.
I had my son’s iPod with me because the battery on mine was dead, but I turned it off once I noticed the crunching of the leaves under my feet. I love that sound. And I wonder how much of life and God’s creation I miss because my head is buried in a computer or a TV or even in an iPod in the middle of the woods. It’s a good thing not to allow kids to bring stuff like this on retreats for just that reason.
I hadn’t gone far when I ran around a bend in the path and a deer followed by two fawns, ran right in front of me. I stopped running and just walked, taking it all in. After a while I came to a clearing and saw four more white-tail deer. As they ran off their tails where strait up in back and glistened beautifully in the sun. I saw one more deer a little later.
Something I’ve started to focus on in my life and to try to teach my kids, since we’ve been in the midst of big moves and a lot of traveling, is to look for the good in where ever we’re at, whatever the situation. For example, we sold a much nicer house than we’re living in now, but it sat on a four lane highway. In six years of living there, I never saw wild turkeys and deer in my yard. Yesterday I saw eight.