Paul’s Last Requests—October 27, 2019—DBC—Dr. Denny
Introduction: Paul Gussman was dying. He had a good life. He was a famous tv announcer and writer. He wrote the pilot episode of Days of Our Lives among other shows. As he became ill, he said he wanted his last words to be memorable. In his final moments, his daughter reminded him of this and he gently removed his oxygen mask and whispered, “And now a word from our sponsors.”
Background to Text: And as we move to our Scripture today, I can almost hear Paul’s last words, “and now a word from my Sponsor.”
2 Timothy 4 is perhaps the most intimate glimpse we will ever have of the great old apostle. There should be a veil over this passage. It’s so private as death always is. In our last moments, we don’t people peeking through the door whispering. It’s a time for the last and final thoughts before the curtain falls. And yet Paul manages from his death bed to put it all in this personal letter. And so this morning we will all step into his hospital room and watch the great man die. We listen to his final requests and learn from a saint how it all works.
- Come to Me Soon—(2 Tim 4:9). “Make every effort to come to me soon.”
If you listen closely and hold your ear next to the letter, you can hear the sound of people leaving. And the sad truth is that Paul died alone. It’s a somber note to sound after the symphony has ended that was his life.
First Demas left him.(v10)– So tragic. We don’t know a lot about Demas but we know this: he deserted his friend, mentor, and guide in his last days. “For Demas, having loved this present world has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” No farewells. No thank you’s. No warm handshake or tears of sorrow for the suffering apostle. Nothing but a swift exit from the stage. Demas deserted me.
But more left. Crescens slipped away to Galatia—Titus went to Dalmatia—Tychicus sailed off to Ephesus. Some of these went on Paul’s command; others just left.
It’s a sad thing to die alone and the apostle was almost alone in his last hours. Only Luke remained.
*A health care aid in a geriatric ward told this true story. He said that as he made his rounds, he noticed a woman so frail and old that she looked dead. But when he stepped to her bedside she suddenly motioned to him. The aid came and put his ear next to her mouth and heard her sigh these final words. “I just wanted to say ‘good-bye’ to someone.” She died a few days later.
Can you hear Paul’s last request? It is much the same as the old dying woman. Paul with a weakened voice says, “Make every effort to come to me soon.”
- Bring my Cloak (2Tim 4:13)—Paul’s second final request was a simple one: “Bring the cloak which I left at Troas…”.
On September 19, 1952, a much-beloved character was born. You all know him. He lives even to this day. His birth was most unusual. An artist named Charles Schulz picked up his pen one morning and made a few bold strokes in his sketchbook. And before long he had a little boy sitting with an innocent expression sucking his thumb and holding very closely a blue blanket. When Schulz was asked about him he said, “Linus, my serious side, is the house intellectual, bright, well-informed which, I suppose may contribute to his feelings of insecurity.” One time when Lucy snatched his blanket away and buried it Linus nearly had a breakdown. He dug up the neighborhood for days trying to find it until Snoopy finally dug it up.
We get attached to things and in a similar ways, Paul was attached to his cloak. He didn’t want to leave it at Troas, but the weather was hot then and the cloak was heavy. So he left it with Carpus, a dear friend and told him to guard it with his life. But now that winter is coming and Paul is alone and dying in a cold Roman cell, he wants it. It’s one of his final requests.
Why the cloak? Perhaps it brought back fond memories of his journeys to the church’s over all those years of endless traveling. Over many years and three separate long missionary journeys, Paul had the cloak. He wore it when men and women fell on their knees trusting Christ as their savior and he wore it at banquets and long road trips between towns. It was a link to his accomplishments. He wanted it back now. He was cold and he needed warm memories.
- Bring the Parchments– τὰς μεμβράνας (2 Tim 4:13)—The Greek word is membranos (our word for membrane. These are documents made from leather skins. Paul found great comfort in his book and parchments. But why these parchments? Perhaps they were some personal letters he had not finished writing yet or maybe they were some of the letters to the churches that he wanted to read over again.
*Do you have any old letters or cards someone in a shoebox that you have kept all these days? When you take them out and see the handwriting, It is easy to imagine the handwriting them as if it just happened.
*I found such a letter from my mother recently. I had written her a poem about August many long years ago. And then I forgot about it. But one day I received a letter from my mother. She was an artist and she had painted all over around the lines of the poem, pretty leaves falling from trees. It brings it all back.
Paul said, “Bring me my letters, bring me the parchments.
Paul’s final request is unspoken. He utters it silently to the Lord. Just before he died he turned his face toward heaven and with the greatest anticipation whispered, And bring me the crown of righteousness