Summary: The closing benediction of Jude is the Bible’s last words before the grand finale. These are the Coach’s finaly rallying cry before the Ultimate Contest.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Last Words Before The Big Game
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Introduction: It was half time in the locker room. A lot was on the line in the 1928 game between Army and Notre Dame. It didn’t look good for the Fighting Irish. The team had struggled the entire first half. Coach Knute Rockne dug deep for words to turn his team around. He encouraged them. He challenged them. He warned them. He demanded their best. Finally, he paused.
The scene was made famous in the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne—All American” starring Ronald Reagan. Rockne finally breaks the silence. He reminds them of a former player, George Gipp who had recently died. That’s the part Reagan played in the film. In the screenplay, the coach quietly tells his team of his last visit to the bedside of Gipp. “And the last thing he said to me, "Rock," he said, "sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper.”
Those words have become the classic example of a final challenge designed to inspire a team as they head into the big game. That’s the kind of scene you need to picture as we read the last words of the last book before the Book of Revelation. Revelation is God’s last word. It explains in highly picturesque and poetic language the world’s last battle. It describes the on-going struggle that leads to God sounding the final buzzer and saying, “Game’s over!” Of course, it’s not a game. This conflict is for real. Eternity rides in the balance. That’s what makes the final words of Jude so important.
I think it is significant the way the Bible is put together. God used forty different men over the span of fifteen hundred years to write the sixty-six books of the Bible. Yet miraculously the Bible tells one story from beginning to end. The pieces fit together, hand in glove. Because I believe that, I am not surprised that Jude comes just before Revelation.
Jude sets the stage for the end. As we have noted in our previous overview, Jude is a bad news book. He begins with an “apology” for not writing about what he intended. He wanted to talk about their common faith. Instead, he found it necessary to remind them of their common enemies. Those kinds of enemies will become more and more prominent in epoch battles of Revelation. Jude describes them and predicts their fate. Revelation recounts the grand finale.
Picture that scene again. Instead of Knute Rockne, it’s Coach Jude who gathers his team in the locker room. The big game is minutes away. He has one last chance to say once last word. “Men, I wish I could tell it’s going to be easy. I would love to talk to you about something else. But facts are facts. This is going to be a tough one. Our opponents are tough and ruthless. They know how to play. They have come to play. But they have been beaten before. They can be beaten tonight.
This is what it’s going to take. We are going to have to play together. We will have to support each other. We’re going to have to dig deep into that reservoir of inner strength. “Business as usual” isn’t enough tonight. We’re going to have to take the game to the enemy. Every man has to go for the ball. We have to play like our lives depended on it.”
The coach pauses. Jude takes a deep breath. One last word. “Guys, this game is not about us. We’re not playing for us. There’s more at stake than that.” He doesn’t say “win one for the Gipper.” The stakes are far bigger than that. Jude reminds them who they are playing for and why they are going to win. He begins with the last part first.
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy . . .” We can do it!! Every victory is mental long before it’s physical. A team that’s convinced it can’t win, won’t. Can’t do never could. It never will! That’s true in sport. It’s also true spiritually. The church collectively or believers individually who doubt their spiritual strength or who wonder about their fate are destined for defeat before they start. But that is not the perspective of the New Testament. That’s the whole message of Revelation. If you’ve read the end of the book, you know how it ends. Jesus wins! The whole of the New Testament, especially the final pep talk of Jude, is to prepare us for that grand finale.