What do you see in the word “death”? Pain, decay, sorrow, suffering, darkness, separation, abandonment, grief, hostility, end, no. Not a happy word. People fear death, try to avoid it. Why wouldn’t we? It spells the end of all that we know. aw1
What do you see in the resurrection? Light, life, uncontainable joy, reunion, freedom, worship, pleasure, comfort, new beginnings, yes. Fact: there can be no resurrection without death. Had Jesus not submitted to death, He would not have experienced the resurrection. Avoid Friday and Sunday never comes.
Do you know what the hardest thing in the Christian life is? It’s not witnessing to your relatives or teaching a boy’s confirmation class on Leviticus or serving on the budget committee of an a shrinking church—it’s dying. If you want to live, you need to learn how to die.
JESUS KNEW HOW TO DIE.
He said, “The Son of man came…to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). The disciples had a different agenda–living. They didn’t want to die. The first order of business from the cross was, “Father, forgive them.” You don’t say that unless you know how to die. Paul knew how to die. He was coming under attack from the Corinthians, but he said, “Death works in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:12).
THE DEATH OF JESUS WAS…
Public. Jesus died outside the city walls, but it was close to town and on a public road. The Romans did it that way to demonstrate their control and to shame criminals. We don’t die by going off on a silent retreat to the desert. We die with people.
Personal. The arrows that stick most in our hearts are the personal ones that strike at our character, our motives, our aptitude. We don’t react as much to those darts that go after our company or our car. Listen to these jabs at Jesus: “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God.’”
Painful. Jesus didn’t enjoy the cross, He endured it (Hebrews 12:2). Somehow I expected dying to be noble and make me feel like Mother Teresa. Dying is hard–sometimes ugly.
Prolonged. Jesus began dying from the time He was born. He lived with the shame of an illegitimate birth. He was rejected by His family, nation, its leaders, His disciples, finally by His Father.
Preferred. He died by laying down his life. He said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord (John 10:18).” He was not a victim, because He chose the way of death.
Maybe you are being given the privilege of going the way of the cross. So I’ll add one more P. If you die like Jesus, it will be powerful, because people will not just be getting the best you can give—they will be getting God.
Sunday is as full of hope as Friday is deeply sad. Friday is an end; Sunday is a new beginning. Accept Good Friday and you get a gooder Sunday! So, if you really want to live–try dying!