“The Final Words of Jesus”
April 5, 2015 (Easter Sunday)
They are some of the dying words of famous and infamous men:
Napoleon Bonaparte, the French general and emperor, said, “I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth. Such is the fate of him who has been called the great Napoleon. What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ.”
Voltaire, the famous French infidel, is reported to have said to his doctor, “I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months’ life.”
Thomas Hobbes, the brilliant skeptic who corrupted the faith of some of England’s great men, exclaimed, “If I had the whole world, I would give it to live one day. I shall be glad to find a hole to creep out of the world at. I am about to take a leap into the dark.” [Boice and Ryken, 14 Words from Jesus (Kindle Locations 138-144).]
And John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, penned these words a few days after the incident: “I am here in despair…I have too great a soul to die like a criminal. O, may He spare me that, and let me die bravely!” About a week later he was mortally wounded by a bullet and his dying words reportedly were, “Tell mother, tell mother, I died for my country.… Useless, useless.” [Forbes, They Went That-A-Way, 41, 43.]
It is true, as Jesus taught, that all our words always reveal what is in our hearts (Lk. 6:45). That is particularly true of one’s dying words or final words, as those words reveal not only what is in one’s heart, but what is preeminent in one’s heart. For that reason, many have been attracted to the final words of Christ from the cross — those seven sayings revealed what His cross-work was accomplishing. But those were not His final words.
The Gospel writers record a number of additional interactions and teachings of Jesus following His resurrection. These are the final earthly words of Jesus; they are conversations that are meant to strengthen weak people for the task the Lord is leaving for them to do.
These followers are in various states of mind and need; what is common among them is that the basis of Christ’s ministry to them is the resurrection. As you examine the lives of those who made up the first generation church after Jesus ascension, there is a remarkable transformation of those people after the resurrection. Prior to the resurrection they are weak, confused, timid, and fearful. After the resurrection, they are increasingly and dramatically transformed into people who are strong, clear, passionate, and bold. The reason for the transformation? The truth of the resurrection. And that transformation begins with Jesus’ ministry to them with words of resurrection hope.
Jesus’ final words reveal the hope of the resurrection.
- A Word of Comfort for the Grieving (John 20:15-17)
- A Word of Peace for the Fearful (Mt. 28:10; Jn. 20:19, 21)
- A Word of Explanation for the Confused (Lk. 24:27)
- A Word of Revelation for the Doubting (Jn. 20:27-28)
- A Word of Forgiveness for the Sinner (Jn. 21:15-17)
- A Word of Direction for Everyone (Mt. 28:18-20)
Download the rest of this Easter sermon.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.