The last words of Jesus…something to remember. We often remember last words. Perhaps you had the experience of talking with your father before he died. Or maybe you spoke to your grandmother in a hospital room when she was ill, not realizing that you would not speak with her again. You remember those last words. You may think of them every year, every month, or maybe even every day.
Jesus gave the disciples those last words. The disciples would take his words and put them into action: baptizing and teaching all that Jesus commanded them. We hear about this work of the early church in the book of Acts. The last words of our Lord propelled the disciples into action. Perhaps when the disciples felt persecuted or forsaken because of the Gospel, they would remember the last things Jesus said to them. Perhaps those words encouraged them to go on with the work of the Lord.
Ever since the time of the disciples, the church also remembers those final directives of Jesus. His words continue to propel us forward. The church continues to be a place where baptism occurs and teaching goes on. Water and the Word cleanse us from sin and give us new life. In worship and the study of Scripture we are taught just as Jesus said we should be: “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:20a, ESV).
We are offered such treasures from God’s hand…but of course, we can cut ourselves off from the Lord’s teaching as well. At times, we may choose to ignore parts of the worship service. We may decide that Bible study is not for us. We may feel like we have nothing left to learn; we have heard the Scriptures over and over. C.S. Lewis, a twentieth century scholar, noted that type of thought we are prone to:
“The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers ‘I’ve read it already’ to be a conclusive argument against reading a work….Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty or thirty times during the course of their life” (C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism, 2).
While Lewis was primarily talking about the advantage of reading a good book multiple times, his thought can apply to our reception of the teaching of the Lord. It does not matter how often we hear it. That teaching will always benefit us. The last words of Jesus still apply. The last words of our Lord before His ascension propel us forward, all the way to eternity.