Summary: In the farewell discourse Jesus is giving His "Last Lecture" that brings together the most important messages He has for us.
Introduction: This is the third in a series of sermons on Jesus’ farewell discourses in the Gospel according to John. These words have special importance because in them Jesus is telling His disciples and us what is critical in faith.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, because He abides with you, and He will be in you.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Prayer: Holy God, Holy Spirit, You always seek our good and ever gift our lives. Come to us now. Remind us of Jesus’ way and call to love. Empower us by Your presence. Shape us as individuals and community, that our love may indeed be spirited. Amen.
Did you ever notice that there are certain things the Lord doesn’t want us to miss? That’s the way I feel about Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” It was simply impossible to miss. I think the first person to email the link to me was Jim Turk, our music director. He sent it with the words, “This is long, but it’s really worth it.” I was in the midst of going through my emails. I quickly went to the link, saw that it took one hour and forty minutes, and decided I couldn’t take the time.
Then I went to a leadership meeting for Stephen Ministry. They were talking about it and telling everyone to watch Randy Pausch who was going to be interviewed by Diane Sawyer. I knew I had another meeting the night of the television show.
Then three Sundays ago, the Parade magazine with Randy Pausch’s picture on the cover arrived in the Sunday newspaper. I glanced at it, was too tired to read it, and placed it in the pile of reading materials next to my bed.
Then on Thursday, I was preparing for this week’s sermon. I read a lot in preparation. One of the sermons I found was by Barbara Lundblad, a Lutheran pastor in New York City. It was written in 2005. One of the things she mentioned was the idea of “The Last Lecture” which beloved professors are asked to give. The lecture is given as though it is the last lecture the professor will ever give. This is the information the professor wants you to remember forever.
Once again, I remembered all I had seen about Randy Pauschs’ last lecture. I finally realized that I had to stop everything and watch this it. I settled down at the computer and spent two hours watching it. The Holy Spirit finally brought me to hear this amazing man.
If you haven’t seen or read about it, Randy Pausch is a 47-year-old professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Last year he was asked to participate in the university’s “Last Lecture” series. A few weeks later he learned that he had only months to live because he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He could have canceled, knowing there was much to do for his family, wife, Jai; Dylan (6), Logan (3), and Chloe (1), but he didn’t. He thought the lecture would give him the opportunity to leave a living piece of himself for his children.
He gave the lecture of his life! He began by demonstrating that despite the cancer, he was still in better shape than most people by doing a quick group of pushups, some one handed, and talking right through it without losing his breath.
I just want to summarize his main points, before we go to Jesus’ last lecture. Here’s was Randy Pausch says:
1. Always have fun.
2. Dream big.
3. Ask for what you want.
4. Dare to take a risk.
5. Look for the best in everyone.
6. Make time for what matters.
7. Let kids be themselves.
It’s a pretty good list, isn’t it? One of the reasons I wanted to share it is that it’s as clear a statement of Christian values as you will find.
I do see a correlation between Jesus’ last lecture, the farewell discourses, and Randy Pausch’s last lecture. And not just in the list, but in the actions. The first thing that Jesus did that night was to take a towel and water and wash the disciples’ feet, just as Randy Pausch did his pushups.