Talk: Famous Last Words

This is a talk I gave at a youth group a number of years ago.

I have in my hand a chocolate bar, which I will give to the first person to give me the answer to a quick quiz I am about to give you. I will give you the famous last words of this person, and you must tell me who he was.

Et tu, Brute.

ANSWER: Julius Caesar

On the 15th of March, 44BC, Julius Caesar, the Emperor of Rome walked into his government to conduct business as usual. As he stood to speak, Senators rushed forward and stabbed him. Legend tells us that over 50 senators were involved. Caesar had been expecting this – it was part of the way things were done in those days. I must admit, that it sometimes seems a pity that we have to vote some of our bad politicians out of office, rather than get rid of them the way the Romans did.

It wasn’t so much the fact that Caesar had been killed, but rather that it was one of his closest friends and advisors that was also involved. If William Shakespeare can be trusted on this point, Brutus was the last to put his knife in. It was the fact that his closest friend had shafted him that really hurt Caesar. It was his dying thought. I wonder how many of you have had a good friend let you down badly – maybe talk behind your back or do something that really hurt you. Maybe you haven’t ever forgiven that person. The problem is: Friends let you down. They hurt you.

It’s not only friends that let you down, though, but family as well. You know, three years ago, my brother and sister and I arranged a wonderful party for my parents. It was their 25th wedding anniversary. Last year, they were divorced. Three weeks ago, my father married a woman just a few years older than me. That hurts. Some of you know how much it hurts. Et tu, my friend?. You, too? People let you down.

Take out another chocolate bar

There was another man in history, and you probably won’t guess his name if I tell you his last words, so I am going to tell you his name, and the chocolate goes to first person to tell me what he is famous for. This man was old, and as his friends gathered around his sickbed, he said:

Go away. I’m alright.

And then he died.

His name was H. G. Wells. What was he famous for?

ANSWER: He was an author.

H. G. Wells was a famous author, who lived at the end of the last century and into the beginning of this one. He was the first author o write a book about time travel, and in 1989 wrote a book called, War of the Worlds, which was the first book written about aliens invading the world. In fact, the movie, Independence Day, had some very similar scenes as that book. His book was so popular that it was put into script form for radio reading, and when it was first read, people thought it was the news, and ran out into the streets screaming.

In 1946, as he lay on his bed, very sick, he turned to his friends and said, “Go away. I’m alright”. And then, he died. It’s not that funny – many of us do that everyday. Your buddy comes up to you and asks what’s wrong, “I can see that something’s bothering you. What is it?”. “Leave me alone, I’m fine”.

On the outside, you put up this mask that everything is great – I’m doing OK. But on the inside, you’re dying. Little by little, you’re dying. You know what I mean – smiling on the outside, but crying on the inside.

Go away, I’m alright.

Take out another chocolate bar

Then there was another man. I don’t know if these were his exact last words – no-one will ever know his exact last words, but in a suicide note, he said:

I hate myself and I want to die.

ANSWER: Kurt Cobain

If they don’t get it, give details from this next paragraph as a clue

On April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain took a shotgun and blew his head off. The album that Nirvana were working on at the time was going to be called I hate myself and I want to die. That is, if Sony would let them use that title. In his suicide note, he explains that from the age of 7, he had begun to die inside, and now hated himself for it. He no longer enjoyed music. He felt that he should put a clock-in machine at the entrance to the stage, and clock in and out every concert. That’s no way to be a musician, and he knew it. He couldn’t stand to fool himself or his fans anymore. He hated himself and wanted to die – so he did.

Some of you know how that feels. Some of you know what it’s like to hate yourself and want to die. Some of you have even tried that. You are so dead inside that it doesn’t make any difference anymore whether you are living on the outside or not. You are so hurt that there seems no way back.

I hate myself and I want to die.

Take out another chocolate bar

There was another man I want to tell you about. He was also a musician. As he lay in a pool of his own blood, from a gunshot wound, he said:

Please help me.

If they don’t get it, give details from this next paragraph as a clue

On 8th December, 1980, at about 10pm, Mark Chapman got an autograph from John Lennon, at John’s New York apartment. At 10 minutes to 11 that night, John Lennon left his New York apartment, probably to go and get something at the shops. Mark Chapman shot him dead as he left his apartment. As he fell to the ground, he was heard to say, “Please help me”.

Some of you know what it’s like to have friends and family let you down, to look OK on the outside, but be dying on the inside, to hate yourself and wish you were dead – and maybe some of you have asked for help. Others of you know that you need help, that you can’t fix this on your own, but you haven’t yet asked. By the time John Lennon asked, it was too late – it was too late for anyone to help.

I want to tell you that it’s never too late. I want to tell you about one more man. I don’t have a chocolate for this, because I know many of you know this man’s last words. This man said:

It is finished.

He lived about 40 years after Julius Caesar was stabbed to death. He lived in Israel. His name was Jesus. He was shafted by one of his close friends, who betrayed him to the Jewish leaders and then to the Romans as well. Late one night, he was taken before a slapped together court and give a railroad trial – declared guilty. All his friends and family left him and ran away. The next day, he was beaten up by the Roman soldiers, whipped until his back was just a mass of blood and flesh, a crown of thorns shoved into his forehead until the blood streamed down his face to blind his eyes. He carried a rough wooden cross through the city and was crucified outside, like a criminal. And as he died, he said: “It is finished”.

He wasn’t just talking about his life. He wasn’t saying, “Oh well, it’s all over”. No, three days later he rose from the dead, to prove that it wasn’t just all over. No! When he said, “It is finished”, he was talking about what he came to earth to do.

Jesus came to earth to prove that He loved you. He was dying to love you. When your friends let you down, and your family is falling apart, Jesus wants you to know that He is a friend you can trust. He is a friend that will never let you down. He wants you to know that you can trust him completely.

Jesus wants you to know that he can see right into you. When you tell other people that you’re OK, Jesus sees how you really are inside. He knows where it hurts, and He knows why it hurts. And he understands. You can’t hide anything from Jesus, because he can see right into your heart. There is no need to try to keep the mask up for him – he knows what it’s like to be hurt, and he wants you to know that he understands, and that he can help.

Jesus also wants you to know that he loves you. You might hate yourself, but Jesus loves you. He knows why you hate yourself. In fact, he understands you better than you understand yourself – he feels your pain and your hate – but he still loves you. And there is nothing you can do that will ever stop him loving you.

Jesus came to give you His love. He came to change your life. He came to give a purpose, and a mission, and a sense of love and peace and joy. He came to change your life.

Jesus wants to be your friend. He wants you to love him too. You may wonder how this is possible, and what you need to do to make it happen. It’s actually very simple. There are just two steps.

The first step is to admit that you need help. Like John Lennon, you have to be able to ask for help. You need to admit that your life is a mess, and you need help to fix it up. The Bible refers to the mess that your life is in as “sin”. Sin is very simple – take the middle letter of the word, I – that is sin. Doing everything for yourself. Trying to survive by your own strength. Doing it your way. That is sin. It is rebellion against God, who wants to help you.

You need to admit that this is wrong, and that you need help. You then, secondly, need to trust that Jesus can help you. You need to trust Him.

If you want to do that tonight, all you need to do is pray a simple prayer. It goes like this:

I need help. My life is a mess. Jesus, please help me. Thank you.

It’s not even the words that really count. It is the attitude of your heart. If you want Jesus to be your friend and your guide to sort out your life, then please pray that prayer with me right now:

I need help. My life is a mess. Jesus, please help me. Thank you.

If you prayed that prayer, I ask you to please speak to your youth leader, or come and speak to me afterwards, so that we can explain to you exactly how Jesus can help you. You need help, and Jesus loves you enough to offer that help to you. Please, don’t leave it until tomorrow or next week. Speak to us now – to me or your youth leaders, or anyone – and ask them to help you to understand how Jesus can give you all the love in the world.

This talk was inspired by a friend, Clive Garton, an evangelist gifted by God. He is awesome enough to have created it himself, but probably got it out of a book somewhere.

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