Summary: Death, it’s not something we think about very often but it’s something that we spend the majority of our lives trying to deny and to postpone. But the reality is it’s always looming over us.
Death and Life?
What would you do if you only had one month to live? Would any of your priorities change? These are the questions that pastor Kerry and Chris Shook ask in their book, One Month to Live: 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life. The catalyst for the book was encountering people who were dying and noticing that their attitudes and priorities often changed when they knew the end was near. “They would do the things they always wanted to do, and say things they had always wanted to say. They’d ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness more freely. They took more risks. It seemed like they had this whole new clarity on their priorities. Kerry and Chris began to ask, ‘Why wait? Why can’t we live this way all the time?’” What they found was that really uncluttered their overcrowded schedule and helped them clarify things that are important. And then he says, “We’ve found that there are so many people that are glad to tell you what’s important and what needs to be done. If you don’t decide what’s important from the Lord, everyone else will tell you.”
In our Scripture passage today, Jesus realizes he has just a few months to live. Luke 9 to the end of the gospel covers the last 3 months of his life and ministry. And so Jesus begins the journey toward Jerusalem and the cross and it impacts how he spends his days and ministry. It changed his priorities. Jesus begins to prepare the disciples for His eventual death by speaking to his disciples about his eventual death.
Death, it’s not something we think about very often but it’s something that we spend the majority of our lives trying to deny and to postpone. But the reality is it’s always looming over us. When my son Luke was born, one of the things we decorated his room with was a bedtime prayer. Say it with me if you know it: "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." What a prayer, huh? Praying about death over a newborn and yet it names a fact of life: Life is limited. The Bible often talks about the importance of being aware of our own mortality. The Lenten season reminds us to keep a right perspective about our own death. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday as we mark ourselves with ashes reminding us that God created us out of the dust of the earth, and it is to the dust we will return.
We must be aware of our own mortality. That’s what Lent is about…to remind us we’re all dying. "From dust you come and dust you will return." When we’re aware of our own mortality, we’re more focused on committing our limited days to the right priority, no not priorities, priority. Singular. The name of this series is Crux which is Latin for the word, cross. When we talk about the crux of the matter, we’re getting down to the one thing that matters in life. The Crux or the cross is the one thing that matters in life. It is the call of Jesus to follow Him. In ancient Rome, when generals led their armies to war, one servant repeated a phrase behind the general leading his troops into battle. "Memento Mori, Memento Mori, Memento Mori” Remember you’re going to die! In other words, don’t hold back. Put it all out there. Lay it all on the line because you can’t save it. When we remember we’re going to die, then we can risk living and giving our lives for a great God purpose. The problem is that even though we know we’re going to die, we put off the thought because we think we have more time. Thus, we need to be reminded of the next lesson.
We have limited time. Scripture continually reminds us about the limitations of our days. Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Each of us has a limited number of days so don’t take today for granted. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. So that leads us to the main question of life: “Why am I here?” Life is not about what you want to get or what you want to do; we need to be asking, “Why am I here?” When you can answer that question, it changes everything. When Jesus realized the cross was his fate and it was the reason he came, he “resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” That was a common Jewish expression which meant, "He resolutely set his face." Look at Isaiah 50:7-8 to gain a better understanding, "Because the sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like flint." In other words, he had made a commitment set in stone. So when Jesus realized the cross was his fate, he made a commitment set in stone. It could not be changed. He burnt the bridges behind him so there is no turning back. When Jesus realized it was his time to be taken up to heaven, what did he do? He resolutely set his face like flint toward God’s big, single-minded purpose. Why? Because his desire was to fulfill the Father’s will.