Consider What Jesus Says Just Before He Ascends into Heaven
Jesus’s first recorded words in the Bible are when he’s twelve years old and disappears. His parents eventually find him in the temple. His perplexing answer explains he belongs in his Father’s house (Luke 2:49). With these as his first words, now let’s look at the final words of Jesus.
To be specific, we’ll look at the last words that Jesus speaks while on earth. Though the book of Revelation records many later words from Jesus, we’ll set these aside because they occur in a vision of the apostle John.
In total Revelation records eight things Jesus says, with Revelation 2-3 being the longest passage.
Though we might think that Jesus’s seven last sayings on the cross give us Jesus’s last words in the Bible, this is incorrect. Instead, we’ll consider what Jesus says after he rises from the dead and before he ascends to heaven.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts all record passages to consider.
The most familiar may be what many call the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Over the years I’ve heard many sermons on this inspiring charge from Jesus when he tells his followers to go out and make disciples. Though this is one of the last things Jesus says, it’s not his final words.
A parallel passage in Mark 16:15-18 repeats the same instructions, with more details included. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a message on this passage. Though it’s more comprehensive, the added text is problematic for many people, so they choose to dismiss it.
I have, however, heard some ministers who try to explain away the phrases in Mark’s account that makes them squirm, but they’re unsuccessful. (It’s worth noting that not all historical texts of Mark’s gospel have the last eleven verses, including this passage.)
In John’s account, Jesus’s last words are a discussion with Peter about what will happen to John. Jesus says, even if I want him to live until I return, what does it matter to you? (John 21:22).
The final words of Jesus recorded in Luke’s biography of Jesus is an explanation about the need for the Savior to die and rise from the dead. Jesus then says they’re to be his witnesses but to first wait until they receive Holy Spirit power (Luke 24:46-49).
In the book of Acts, which Luke also wrote and picks up where his gospel leaves off, we see a continuation of Jesus’s discussion about waiting for Holy Spirit power. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, his disciples are to be his witness throughout the whole world (Acts 1:4-8).
Immediately after he says this, Jesus ascends to heaven. This is the last thing he says before he leaves his disciples.
Therefore, the final words of Jesus are “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).
Though many people focus on the going part and being his witnesses, they often overlook the essential foundational element of having Holy Spirit power within them.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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2 replies on “The Final Words of Jesus”
I think you may have overlooked the time that Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus where Jesus’s final words to him were, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,” he replied. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5) At least this was Jesus’s last words spoken in person. He also spoke to Ananias, later, but that was in a vision.
Robert, thanks for mentioning that passage.
(The full exchange is in Acts 9:1-16: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9%3A1-16&version=NIV)