Whether the words are poignant or not, famous and infamous people often have their “last words” written down for posterity, jocularity, morbid curiosity, or parables of morality.
According to his sister, Steve Jobs (d. 2011) said on his deathbed:
“Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
As Thomas Becket (d. 1170), the Archbishop of Canterbury, was being murdered by the knights of King Henry II, he said:
“I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”
Kit Carson (d. 1868), famous American frontiersman, is reported to have said either:
“Adios, compadres.” (goodbye, friends)
or, others recorded him saying:
“I just wish I had time for one more bowl of chili.”
And, Pope John Paul II (d. 2005) made this utterance just seconds before he died:
Our Lord Jesus Christ is unique in that He uttered “last words” before His death, but then He came back to life through resurrection. So, he then uttered “last words” again, immediately preceding his ascension into heaven.
And so, Jesus’ final words on the cross were: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The “finished” refers to the atoning work of the Christ, suffering as a substitute for sinners.
Then, 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus led His disciples out to the Mount of Olives. As He ascended into the heavens, He said to those disciples — and all disciples of Christ who would follow — the following words:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
The last words of Christ gave His disciples the command to evangelize and make disciples!
Under the authority of Christ Himself and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ followers are to evangelize the world — making disciples until the end of the age. We found living water; now, we are to take living water to those who are thirsty. Don’t fear evangelism any more than you would fear giving Christmas presents to people you love.
Christian friends, we will not evangelize in heaven. Worship of God and service in His Kingdom continues for all eternity, but evangelism (like prayer, fasting, persecution, suffering, etc.) are Christian experiences and activities of this present world but not of the next.
Since we have this command, this “Great Commission” from our Lord, will you join with me in renewing our commitment to obey the Lord in His command to us to make disciples?
If you feel scared of “evangelism,” then perhaps you are going about it the wrong way. Canned approaches to Gospel-sharing probably did not bring you to Christ, so think about what did lead you to the Lord. It may have been the ministry of the Word preached at worship. But perhaps it was the organic relationship you had with a grandmother, a roommate, or a co-worker. So, do the same. Seek genuine friendship with people and do good (the Gospel in deed). Then, also pray for and look for opportunities to share your own Christian testimony. And, simply tell them the Gospel. The words may seem big — Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation — but the Gospel is simple for anyone with the desire to understand the Gospel.
Team up with another Christian for accountability. Develop a prayer list that you keep in your Bible — folks you know who do not follow Christ — and pray for them regularly. Start with one very simple and clear goal: to share about the Gospel of Jesus Christ just one time in the next 12 months. Once? Yes, for once-a-year obedience is better than no-obedience.
To prompt you, consider the glory of God in bringing the nations and tongues to salvation through Christ (Revelation 5).
Also as a prompt, take another look at those statistics which the Pew Forum on Religion Life reported this winter, and you will see that unbelief is world’s third largest religion:
7 billion people worldwide2.2 billion are Christian (32%)1.6 billion are Muslim (23%)1.1 billion are “nones” (16%)
Be compelled to evangelize by a holy desire to spread the glory of God’s name and a heart for the lost “nones” (as well as others who are trapped in false religion).
The “last words” of most people are rightly forgotten. But the “last words” of our Christ are not only to be remembered, they are to be obeyed. Renew your commitment to Him — make disciples!