Summary: Paul imprisoned for his faith in Christ demonstrates a remarkable peace, and confidence while facing death.
Having A Desire To Depart”
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he becomes absorbed in a soul-disturbing conversation with himself. You remember his words....To be or not to be ? That is the question. Hamlet did not know whether it was more devastating to face the unavoidable afflictions of life or to fear the unknown agonies of death. Paul’s words concerning life or death are much more refreshing. He says “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain”. Paul at the very writing of this letter to the Philippian believers is in a Roman dungeon chained perhaps between two Roman soldiers. He describes his situation as “in a strait betwixt two” He is literally hemmed in or confined by his surrounding. But spiritually he is speaking of life and death ?
Before his death French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre concluded that life was empty, tasteless, and without purpose. But to Paul...life has meaning, life has significance, life has purpose ! There are things that still need doing.....work gone unfinished. Notice v24. “to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. But, Paul knows that death lurks on the horizon. He realizes that is quite likely that he will never be free again, and even more likely that he will suffer death at the hands of the Roman officials.
I want us to digest a portion of Paul’s writings to the Philippians this morning. There is so much contained in a small phrase that Paul uses here. It describes how Paul looks at his impending death. Notice the phrase in V23 “having a desire to depart” The word desire literally means passionate desire ! If Paul lives he will live for Christ as he has....if Paul dies he is confident, ready, prepared ! How can he stand in the shadow of death with such peace, and assurance ? For this reason, to depart means to be with Christ, which is far better...(GR. So Much Better)
Focus with me on the word “depart” The greek word used here is a marvelous word, and used in describing certain events.
Listen to its uses.
1. It is a nautical term. The term “depart” or “parting” was used by sailors who pull up their anchors so that their ships can set sail for another port.
What a beautiful picture of death for the child of God
Visualize....a ship...it’s anchor pulled from the waters...its sails set...it departs from one port...from one harbor....it’s destination.
2. It is a military term. The term “depart” was a word used by soldiers when they would pull up the stakes, and fold up their tents so that they could move to another campaign. Paul was a tent maker. In his writings,
he described the physical body as a tent...it is in the sense that it is only a temporary dwelling place. One day that stakes will be withdrawn...this tent will be folded up....and our soul will move on. For the child of God...all battles will be over...peace forever more.
3. It is a legal term. The word “depart” is used to describe the releasing of a prisoner. Paul is imprisoned literally....whether he will be ever free from the Roman dungeon to continue his life...he does not know at this time...but he does know that one day just as a prisoner is freed from shackles, and chains...and the prisons doors are open...that so to will he be free from the sin, the sorrow, the sadness, the situations that sometimes act as shackles in this life.
Song: Like a bird from prison...I have flown....I’ll fly away !
4. It is a agricultural term. Used by farmers to describe the unyoking of an oxen. When this takes place the oxen that was harnessed is free from its burdens.....one day Paul knows that he will lay down all his heavy burdens...and be transformed !
How can Paul envision death in such a way ?
I. Because of the Person that he shall go to.
Illust. Soldier terribly wounded...Dr. told him he needed surgery but his chances of survival were only one in a hundred. What would you like for me to do ? Go on with it Dr. was his reply. Later after the soldier fully recovered...he was asked how he could face the situation with such calmness, and confidence...he said...I knew whichever way it went that there would be a welcome for me. If I lived I knew my Mom would be here to welcome me.. and If I died that Jesus would welcome me ! Paul knows that for him to die is gain....that for him to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Song: It will be worth is all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ,
One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase,