Victoria Park Christian Centre
Suite 1, 342 Albany Highway, Victoria Park 6100, Western Australia
Do you hope that your last words on this planet would have an impact on others left behind? Nostradamus predicted, “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here” and that’s one prediction he got right! Blues guitarist Leadbelly said, as he was being prepped for surgery, “Doctor, if I put this here guitar down now, I ain’t never gonna wake up.” He also was so right. Do you think that the final words of Jesus, our Saviour, the hope of all the nations and the most famous of all should make the greatest impact with his last words? Let’s have a look at the Jesus’ final words in all four gospels.
In Matthew 28 Jesus gave what the church calls The Great Commission. His words in verses 19 and 20 weren’t just directed to the disciples. Jesus made a timeless statement, “I am with you even to the end of the age.” These last words introduced three new insights for the disciples.
Firstly, he was telling his followers to make disciples internationally. Previously, His commission was only to the lost sheep of Israel but now through the triumph of the cross over the sins of the world, it’s universal.
Secondly, Jesus promoted the twelve from disciples to teachers. The Greek word for disciple is mathetes which means a learner or pupil. Now the call was to teach what Jesus had taught them.
And lastly, Jesus promised to be with them always, replacing his previous instructions that they would not always have him (Matt. 26:11).
In Mark, the commission is the same. Go into the world. But here the emphasis is on preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15,17-18). We know that preaching means to proclaim and that the gospel (from old English, gōdspel) means good news. Whenever Jesus or the disciples proclaimed the gospel there was always power to heal, deliver or cleanse as well. Here Jesus is saying, “You now go and proclaim that the rule of God has come into the world through me, the Messiah, and demonstrate it. You heal, you deliver and you cleanse the nations in my name!” The last words in Luke tells them how they will receive this power. It will be from on high and will clothe them (Luke 24:49). They will wear this power!
In the book of John, Jesus’ famous last words take on a different flavour. We know that scripture will not contradict itself. This means these last words of Jesus to Peter will complement the ones in the other gospels. Although Peter was a fisherman, Jesus declares him a shepherd with the words Feed my sheep, Feed my lambs and Care for my sheep (John 21:15-19).
If we string all these famous last words together Jesus is saying, “When you have received the power that will clothe you from above, then feed my lambs and my sheep and take care of them.”
Modern sheep rearing has removed the personal knowledge and connection that Middle Eastern shepherds had with their flocks. In Christianity today many believers misunderstand God. They suppose He deals with them generally, as an army General deals with an army: without any knowledge of individual privates. Jesus and the disciples would have known the personal care that a shepherd has for each sheep. It is so personal, in fact, that the shepherd knows and names each sheep and each sheep recognises the shepherd’s voice.
For a greater insight into this we need to read John 10 and Jesus’ parable on the good shepherd. Jesus is giving us final instructions about teaching the flock to recognise His voice. When we have learned this, we will not be led astray by all sorts of strange teachings from self-help books, courses, youtube speakers and conventions. There’s only one flock, one great shepherd of the sheep and all Christians must learn to recognise Jesus’ voice and teach others. “Follow me!” Jesus told Peter. Let’s do it church!
This post is a condensation of a sermon given by Andrea Lock at Perth Healing Ministries Chapel on 21 February, 2015. If you have a question, or would like to find out more about the ministry work of PHM, please get in touch using the contact form below. Bless you!