By Dr. Mark Denison — They are the three issues that threaten civilization: world hunger, unrest in the Middle East, and “deflate-gate.” I can’t help with the first two, but let’s talk – one last time – about Tom Brady and “deflate-gate.” The footballs were deflated for the big AFC title game. The question America collectively asks is, “What did he know and when did he know it?” Millions have come to Brady’s defense. But count Patricia M. Shong, of Auburn, Massachusetts, as his chief apologist. Ms. Shong went further in her defense of her favorite player than even Brady has gone himself. She defended Brady in her obituary. That’s right – her obituary!
Here’s what happened. The 72-year-old woman knew she was dying, so she wrote her own obit, to be published after her death. It reads, in part, “Ms. Shong enjoyed scrapbooking, weekly card night, and spending time with family. And she would like to set the record straight. Brady is innocent!” Well, there you go. Case settled. I never had the privilege of knowing Ms. Shong, but I have one observation. I’m guessing that anyone who was so passionate in defending her football hero as to publish it as part of her own obituary didn’t wait until she died to defend her man. I’m sure she got in the face of every Brady critic and consistently stood up for her beliefs. But it was her last words that carried the most weight. Last words matter most.
I remember the last words my dad said to me, six days before he died. I remember the last words my mother said to me, seconds before slipping away. Last words matter. Let’s consider the last words of the man whose words still echo through the corridor of time. I’m talking about a man who never wrote a book, never owned a business, and never gave more than one recorded public address. He is a man who never traveled sixty miles from where he was born, never visited a large city, and never conducted a single media interview. He came from meager beginnings and died a meager death. He never married and had no children. He died in his early 30s and was laid to rest in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. But he is still the most quoted man who ever lived. But it is his last words I leave with you today. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus’ last words were not to a magistrate or world leader. His words were not given to family or lifelong friends. His words were not given to the masses or offered for public discourse. Jesus’ final, most important words were offered to his closest followers. You see, Jesus’ goal was not to impress, but influence. And he knew that the best way to change the world was not by impressing the masses, but to charge a few radicals with the task of sharing the Good News. That strategy is still in place today. Last words matter. May thee last words of the King of kings and Lord of lords affect us, challenge us, and change us. Believers, we have our marching orders. It’s time to go to work.