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  • Eric Marshburn

July 2024 Blog

It is interesting what we can discover about a person by listening carefully to their last spoken words. For example, John Wesley – the founder of our Methodist Movement, said: “The best of all…God is with us.” According to Steve Jobs’ sister, Mona, the Apple founder’s last words were, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” Circus mogul, P.T. Barnum’s last words were: “What were today’s receipts?” Bob Marley’s last words? “Money can’t buy life.” When Groucho Marx was dying, he let out one last quip: “This is no way to live!” Basketball great “Pistol” Pete Maravich collapsed during a pickup game. His last words? “I feel great.” 


The final words of Jesus to his disciples were offered outside of the walls of Jerusalem on The Mount of Olives in Acts 1:6-14. One of them asked what seemed to be a fair question: “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?” It’s the kind of question you ask when you aren’t in a particular hurry, when you assume there will be ample time to talk, when you’re focused in the wrong direction; or maybe seeking after the wrong kind of power. Jesus’ response is short and to the point; there is no mincing of his words and no metaphor-filled parable.


Jesus said, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And (you will receive power) when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” 


Doctor Luke adds this one line of commentary: “These were his last words.” Spoken like a doctor – like someone who had witnessed this sort of thing before. But NO ONE had ever seen anything quite like this before. “As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky.” Luke says. “He is with them… and then suddenly… he is not. He is present… as present as anyone seated near you at this moment… and then… like a helium balloon that slips from the hands of a child… he is gone… gone.”


Doctor Luke helps us feel some of that absence; he says that in the pain of this absence, two figures appear dressed in white. They speak into the disciples’ hearts, “You Galileans, why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky?” In an instant their focus shifts from the clouds in the sky to each other.


Barbara Brown Taylor describes it this way:

On the surface it was not a great moment; eleven abandoned disciples with nothing to show for all their following. But in the days and years to come it would become very apparent what had happened to them. With nothing but a promise and a prayer, those eleven people consented to become the church – and nothing was ever the same again. (In that moment – they commenced) The followers became leaders…The listeners became preachers… The converts became missionaries…The healed became healers…The disciples became apostles… witnesses of The Risen Lord by the power of The Holy Spirit… and nothing was ever the same again… ~Barbara Brown Taylor, Christianity Today


And, nothing was ever the same again … Glory be to God!


Blessings and Peace!

Pastor Eric

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