This is the second post of an 8 part series I’m writing for Holy Week. I hope you’ll come back to read the entire series in posts #45 – #52
FROM PALM SUNDAY TO EASTER
#2 – Jesus Predicts His Death John 12:20-36
What if you absolutely knew you only had one week to live? Just seven days to enjoy the sunshine, connect with your friends and family, wrap up everything you had set out to accomplish, and make final arrangements before your appointment with destiny. Who would you want to talk too? How would you choose to spend your time? The urgency of the situation would bring your entire life into clearer perspective. Your values, your goals and your relationships would all be set in stark contrast against the backdrop of your diminishing supply of hours. One week, 7 days, 168 hours!
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that concept. While both the scriptures and history remind us that each of us has a date with death, dying is usually something we think about more in abstract terms than in concrete reality. We all know that one day we’re going to die, but for most of us that seems like something that is not an immediate concern. That unknown day is out there, somewhere, in the future, but we don’t dwell on it because we don’t really know when that day will come. Even those dealing with a terminal illness, who are perhaps best qualified to speak about this concept, are not privy to the actual day of their passing. One week, 7 days, 168 hours! What would you do if you really knew?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem prior to the Passover celebration, as recorded in John 12, He knew the destiny that awaited Him. Notice what he says in verse 27, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reasons that I came to this hour? Father, glorify your name!” He knew what awaited Him even before He entered the city.
Throughout the days that followed Jesus clearly outlined His understanding of his impending death to His disciples. This was not something that was taking Him by surprise. For the previous three years He had been traveling throughout the country, sharing the message of His Father’s love for all mankind, healing the sick, and mentoring His disciples in preparation for this moment. By the end of the week He would hand over His ministry to others and fulfill the purpose for which He had come. The cross was His destiny from the moment He was born. The hours were ticking down; the end of His life on earth was near.
Understanding our purpose is a prerequisite to truly facing our destiny. From the day we were born God has had a plan for our lives. It’s important for us to step into that plan if we want to face the day of our own death with confidence. While we may not know how many years, weeks, days or hours we have left on this earth, we do know that we have an expiration date. The sands of time are running through the hourglass to an inevitable conclusion. Knowing that should motivate us to make the most of the time we have been allotted. It should impact the decisions we make, the use of our funds, the investment of our energy, and the relationships we build. If we were living like we knew this was our last week on earth, how many things would we change?
Jesus, Himself, seems to give an answer to that question later in this passage. In verse 36 He says, “Put your trust in the light while you have it so that you may become sons of light”. So much of our lives are filled with busy work, non-essential activities, and trivial pursuits. While God certainly does want us to enjoy our lives, including times of refreshment, relaxation and fun, our primary purpose should be to the same as His was, to glorify God. That motivation should be the keystone of our existence.
God created us, and all of humanity, in His image to reflect His character. We are His masterpiece, the ultimate expression of His very nature. As such He has asked us to be His ambassadors. That is our highest calling. However much time we have on earth is somewhat secondary to fulfilling this God-given purpose. We have been called to become “sons of light” while we are still in the light!
There are a lot of things that clamor for our attention. Many of them are worthwhile endeavors that require the application of the best we have to offer. Others are not quite so noteworthy, but they do bring an element of joy and pleasure for us and for those around us. Some activities, though harmless, are simply a waste of our limited supply of time. Unfortunately, there are also numerous temptations to use our days and hours in things that are unhealthy, unproductive, and just down right wrong. Each choice we make is a reflection of who we are and who we want to be. How would those choices change if we knew we have just one week to live?
As I reflect on how Jesus faced His last week I’m impressed by so many things. He, too, had the freedom to choose how He would invest those last days and hours. As I read the Gospel accounts I see that He spent a good deal of that precious time with those who were closest to Him. He also continued to interact with the public, using these final days to teach them about the Holy Spirit. Later in the week He would stand strong when they came to arrest Him, put Him through the mockery of a trial, and even steadfastly face the cruelty of the cross. He didn’t back away after His triumphal entry from the ugly reality that the week ahead would hold for him as the hours ticked down. He resolutely moved forward in faith, committed to the task He had agreed to before He was sent to that little town of Bethlehem as a baby. He finished his course before He would eventually utter those words “IT IS FINISHED”. One week, 7 days, 168 hours!
I don’t know when I will die, but I want to redeem the time I have left. I want to finish the course God has laid out for me in the same manner, and with the same courage, conviction and confidence Jesus displayed during His last days on earth. John tells us at the start of His gospel, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men”. I want to be counted among those “sons of the light” when my time on earth comes to an end. One week, 7 days, 168 hours! Let’s live like we understand our destiny!