I suppose the last words of a person’s life are important and worth noting.
Italian artist Raphael’s last word was simply: “Happy.”
Frank Sinatra died after saying, “I’m losing it.”
Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger’s last words were, “A party! Let’s have a party.”
Marie Antoinette stepped on her executioner’s foot on her way to the guillotine. Her last words: “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur.”
Richard Feynman, a physicist, author, musician, professor, and traveller, died in Los Angeles in 1988. His last words? “This dying is boring.” (I wonder if he thought that after he had drawn his last breath?)
Murderer James W. Rodgers was put in front of a firing squad in Utah and asked if he had a last request. He replied, “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, died at age 71 in his garden. He turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.
“A great game of golf, fellers” Harry Lillis aka “Bing” Crosby, singer/actor, said after finishing his round on the 18th tee on October 14, 1977 and then he dropped down dead.
Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (1170) is reputed to have said the following
“I am ready to die for my Lord that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”
I wonder what you would want your last words to be before you finally shuffle off this planet of ours?
It’s worth noting what the last words of Jesus were. Of course, He made seven different statements whilst He was pinned to the cross, but His absolute final words were “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”
However His very last message to the disciples is found in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 28 beginning at verse 16.
Now Jesus would have thought carefully before He shared His final thoughts and instructions with His followers. Of course, He could have reinforced many different subjects as His parting shot. Yet it is really interesting to see what thoughts He did choose to leave His disciples. In the end He chose to give a direct and powerful commission. He literally outlined the mandate He wanted His disciples to fulfil. This is why these final instructions of Jesus have come to be known as “The Great Commission”. So let us read again His final message, in effect His last words. They occur after He had risen from the dead and just before His ascension into heaven.
‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them togo. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age!”’
As you can see Jesus left His disciples with a number of particular directives, Jesus commissioned them to ‘Go’, to ‘Make Disciples’ to ‘Baptise’ and to ‘Teach.’
But it is also interesting to note what Jesus says after He had finished these instructions. He goes on to say ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ This is a verse that is often referred to and has been particularly loved by untold numbers of believers throughout the centuries. Indeed wonderful, comforting and reassuring words especially when the believer is facing a difficult time. However, it is really fascinating to consider the context in which these words were uttered. It was in the context of Him giving the Great Commission.
It’s almost as if He was saying, ‘if you are careful to fulfil this mandate, if you live out these final instructions of mine, if you ‘Go’, ‘Make Disciples’ ‘Baptise’ and ‘Teach’ in my name, then you need not worry or fear, for I will always be with you’. In other words if you fastidiously and tenaciously go about the business of making disciples then you can count of me being with you!
Now that does put a different slant on it!
You know, the Great Commission of Jesus Christ has never ever changed, it still stands today in the 21st Century. Our mandate as authentic followers of Jesus Christ has never changed. Each one of us are still called to ‘Go’ into our various worlds and ‘Make Disciples’ ‘Baptising’, ‘Teaching’ and ‘Instructing’ people in the ways of Christ. If the truth be known, the Great Commission is literally our commission! Your commission! My commission!
The author Carl F.H. Henry writes this “The gospel of Jesus Christ is only good news if it gets there in time.” The Great Commission is all about us getting the gospel to the hurting and lost before it’s too late for them.
The simple truth is, as someone has already so eloquently put it, ‘the Great Commission is far too big for anyone to accomplish alone and far too important for us not to try to do together’. Now how true is that! You see, our mandate is twofold, firstly for each of us to play our individual part in fulfilling the Great Commission, and secondly to pull together as a church and do all we can as a corporate Body to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ across this amazing city of ours. We might not be able to fulfil this on our own but we certainly can if we pray, give, go and believe together.
Oswald J Smith (1832 – 1905) once put it like this … ‘any church that is not seriously involved in helping to fulfil the Great Commission has forfeited its right to exist’. Challenging words indeed – don’t you think?
In part this is exactly why New Springs City Church is totally committed to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission as best we can. We want to be those who obey and fulfil the last words of Jesus. As we’ve said, last words are important – and Jesus’ last words certainly are!
So, throughout 2017, (can you believe it’s just around the corner?), we are determined to have a concerted effort as a church to reach every single person who lives in the Borough of Charnwood and beyond, to leave them in no doubt whatsoever that Jesus Christ is alive and well today and is still in the people saving, life transforming, and miracle producing business! Now that’s a huge task, but that’s what the Great Commission is all about – ‘going into all the world’. Now Charnwood and beyond is our world. And as we ‘go’ in His name, we can be assured He will go with us and not abandon us in the task. He will go before us to prepare the way, He will go with us to lead and guide and to give us success, and He will go after us to continue and finish the work He has begun through us!
We will start the year with 40 days of prayer and fasting – what you might call ‘breaking up the fallow ground’. By dividing the time period into forty day slots, together we can achieve this easily.
The next period of forty days will be a preparation, equipping and sowing time. And then a further forty day period commencing on Easter Sunday morning will be given over proclaiming and reaping.
2017 promises to be a fantastic year of growth for the Kingdom of God and New Springs. And do you know what? Those last words of Jesus – they were just for us. Together we can do it!! Together we must do it!