News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 17, 2014

Joy Lady: Jesus’ last words give step-by-step approach to personal evangelism

Verna Davis
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Remember M*A*S*H? Not mash like in potatoes, but M*A*S*H as in the comical TV series about a serious war in Korea. The characters of Hawkeye Pierce and B.J. Honeycutt were always good-naturedly arguing with each other. But in one particular episode, Hawkeye had had his fill with B.J.’s witty comebacks. Hawkeye challenged, “You always have to have the last word, don’t you?” B.J. sweetly answered, “No, I don’t.” Then, for the rest of the episode, the two bantered back and forth regarding that precious last word. For every proof provided by Hawkeye that B.J. always spoke the last word, B.J. would respond with, “That’s not true.” The more frustrated Hawkeye became, the more B.J. would (seemingly innocently, of course), provide the last word.

We all want to have the last word, don’t we? We all want our words to be utterly undisputed, totally respected, and completely obeyed. Anything less is just wrong!

Some last words speak for themselves, and we don’t have to imagine what happens after these last words are uttered. For instance, when someone’s last words are “I wonder where the mother bear is,” you know what happens next. When a person with more bravery than brains says, “I’ve seen this done on TV,” you know things are not going to turn out like they do on TV. And we should be relieved we are not standing next to a person whose last words are, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

Some last words should never be disputed. For instance, when someone says, “Duck,” you should not look for a web-footed critter, nor should you ask why, you should merely duck. You’ll be glad you let it be the last word.

Jesus had some last words of his own, recorded in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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.”

To review, Jesus’ last words told us five important things. First, we should recognize all authority belongs to Him and Him alone. Second, we are to “go.” Move off our spiritual couches to find those who are lost and in need of Jesus. Third, we are to make disciples of all nations. Fourth, those nations (including your own nation) are to be baptized in Jesus’ name. And fifth, we are to teach new Christians to obey, for they don’t come out of the baptismal water knowing everything. Indeed, Jesus’ last words give us a step-by-step approach to personal evangelism. But the best last words are the last words Jesus uttered on earth: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Those are last words we can bank on!

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, may be reached at vrdspeaks@yahoo.com.