Christians are prepared for death. At least, we know where we are going. We also look forward to seeing Jesus and being with Him. However, I had one friend in her eighties that was adamant that she didn’t want to die. She had too much to do here. Death frightened her. I didn’t want to have the same attitude, but now realize that it lurked beneath my confidence.
Yesterday I wrote about Jesus. When He faced death, He “despised the shame.” Since then, I’ve been thinking about why He did that. The answer is, Jesus is life itself, the Author of life, the One who called Himself “I am” referring to self-existence. He has always been. For Him, death is a disgrace, an utterly shameful thing and beyond all that should be. It should not, even could not happen to the Giver of eternal life — yet it did.
The most remarkable thing is that He “despised” this disgrace. In our minds, despise means hatred, but the original Greek word is more like, “consider it a light thing.” For Jesus, and for the joy set before Him, death was so insignificant that it was like nothing.
Think of that! The One who is life itself is going to die, but because He knows what that death will do and what will happen afterwards, He thinks nothing of it. It is a blip on His path, a shrug for His massive shoulders. His attitude toward dying is like my attitude toward brushing my hair. It has to be done, but not a big deal.
This phrase, “despising the shame” is offered as an example for the followers of Jesus. We have a life to live here, one that will end in death. Death is the final enemy, but because Jesus has conquered it, we can despise/dismiss that as an inevitable event and go on with living.
On that vein, today’s verses and devotional reading are about living, even when death is around the corner.
The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (John 11:8–9)
Jesus had the attitude that when His time came, He was ready for it, but He needed to do what God wanted Him to do in the meantime. That is, while there was still time, He wasn’t about to stew over that cross looming on His path ahead. He concentrated on doing whatever He knew He must do. His focus was on NOW, not the end.
The reading is short and to the point. It says, “The very fact of a Christian being here, and not in Heaven, is a proof that some work awaits him” (William Arnot).
Arnot’s words are for me. God has more to put on my to-do list. If my focus is on anything other than being alert to His commands, I will miss them and miss the priorities He has for my life. For that reason, and because of His attention-getting devices of the past few weeks, I am walking more deliberately and thinking more deeply about the choices of each day. Instead of assuming what is important, I’m checking in with Him more often.
Lord, You know the way that I take. You have plans for me that are good. You also have work for me to do. My life is to glorify You and edify others, and You know how to help me accomplish Your goals. I am still here because You have chosen this to be so. May I more closely pay attention to what You are asking of me.