Summary: Truths gleaned from Jesus’ words to thief on the cross.
INTRO> Something happened a few years ago that had never happened before. For the first time ever, a game show became the #1-rated television show. Regis Philbin served as the original host of “Do You Want To Be A Millionaire?,” where a single contestant sits in chair while lights and music surround him/her as he/she attempts to answer a series of questions. The first questions are ridiculously easy, but the questions get tougher as the contestant progresses toward the ultimate goal of winning $1 million. I’ve noticed, though, that a contestant to ruminate out loud, talk through his/her logic in why he/she will answer a question a particular way, can even turn to using “lifelines,” polling the audience, asking for a 50-50 reduction of possible answers, and even phone a friend. However, no progress will be made until the contestant answers a second question each stage of the way. There is a question that shows up on the screen, but then he/she is asked a second question by Regis or Meredith (depending on whether you’re watching an old show or new show). The other question? The host will ask the contestant, “Is that your FINAL answer?”
<>You see, FINAL WORDS are important...not just in game shows, but in real life:
-->In the courtroom no testimony is given more weight or considered more trustworthy than a dying person’s confession, or last words.
-->When the NTSB is investigating the cause of an airline crash, they desperately seek through all the rubble of the crash, seeking for the infamous “black box,” hoping to listen to recordings of the FINAL WORDS in the cockpit, hoping to learn from those conversations what the cause of the crash was.
---------(By the way, I’ve always wondered...it seems the “black box” always survives the crash. Why don’t they just make the whole plain out of the stuff they made the black box out of?!)
-->If you die before the rapture, there will come a day when a lawyer or the executor of your estate will gather your family and loved ones together to listen to a reading of your LAST will and testament, your FINAL wishes, declaring how you want your vast resources (perhaps including the million dollars you won on the game show!) distributed.
<>Because, you see, a person’s FINAL WORDS reveal a lot about what’s important to him/her:
---ILL>P. T. Barnum, famous father of the modern circus, and notorious money-grubber, he who once declared proudly “there’s a sucker born every minute,” while on his death bed revealed his life-long pursuit of money when his last words ever spoken were: “How were today’s receipts at the show?”
---ILL>Flamboyant writer, Oscar Wilde, relentlessly pursuing frivolous things while displaying a keen wit, while lying on his death bed, uttered these, his very last words: “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
<>But of all the final words ever spoken, without any question the most important were the final words of Jesus, spoken as He was hanging on the cross.
I invite you to open a Bible to Luke, chapter 23.