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He bids him come and die.

With Good Friday on the horizon of this week, this popular statement from Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been echoing in my mind: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

In theory, we agree right? For those of us who call Jesus our Lord, we remember that the payment for our reconciliation to the Father is a perfect death. And since none of us are perfect, Jesus chose to do it. Death is a prevalent theme in the Scriptures and it is the very thing that allowed us to be liberated from sin’s destruction. We have been given an out. We’ve been stepped in front of and saved from the execution. Our nature is harmful to ourselves and others whether that be from greed or pride or fear or complacency. To be called a sinner is not an insult but reality. Sin is the thing that creates distance between God and ourselves. Jesus and His righteousness closed the gap.

That being said, Lent has been a helpful season filled with reminders that Jesus suffered on my behalf. And if I am to say I follow Him, to do what He’s asked of me, then I am to follow Him. I am to observe the ways He interacted with the people around Him and use the Spirit’s help to do it. When left to my own devices, I’m rarely interested in helping others. I prioritize comfort and the illusion of security. I don’t deny myself all that often (more on that another time). I don’t force myself to picture Jesus dying on the cross. This season, I have.

And it’s sobering. It’s haunting, really. Growing up, Jesus never died. He lived in Heaven and lived on Earth a long time ago. His death wasn’t actually death. It was just a cool story about a guy who went to hell and beat up the demons and came back to Earth and went back to heaven.

As I’ve matured, more specifically as a believer, my capacity to understand the gravity of Jesus’s death has grown too. (I credit this to a grace given not knowledge obtained.) I think I’ve grown in my willingness to engage with the days before Easter.

Death is easier to talk about once someone you love dies—this is easy to believe. Those of us who have been forced to look death in the eye and continue on have a greater understanding of its inevitability. At times, we are less affected by the discussion or threat of death. Other times, we are thrown into a triggered response at the very memory of witnessing it.

For this reason, pondering it over the last few weeks of Lent has been transformative for my soul and expectation for however long the rest of my life may be. Though I feel sadness at the idea of a shorter-than-expected life, the excitement about what comes next quickly covers it. Hope in my true future has become a more prominent mindset.

The reality that when Jesus extends the offer to follow Him, it’s quite literally to follow Him to death. To death of self, to expectations, to reputation, to assumptions, to burdens, to the right to be right and seen as good. This last one is still a work-in-progress for me as someone who identifies with an Enneagram 1 (if you know you know). Dying to this need of being seen as morally good and disciplined has been more of an active choice than something the Spirit has just done to me. I’ve been made aware of the ways in which I’m putting too much emphasis on my relationship and weeping at the thought of Josh dying literally ever, even if he makes it to 97. The truth is death is not something to fear but something to prepare for. To expect.

I’m not afraid to die. I am actually quite excited to wrap this all up and see what’s next. I’m intrigued to see what it’ll be like to be fully redeemed, restored and rewarded for what I did with the gift of salvation in my life on Earth. I ponder what Mom will be like in redeemed form and what it’ll be like to see Jesus face-to-face… almost can’t take it. I’ve come to see that these thoughts and wonderings are the beauty in the hope that we have as followers of Jesus. We can gaze at the very thing that terrifies most of us and maybe if we squint a little and position it in the right light, we notice the glory that is to come.

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1 Comment

So good to see this pop up in my email. Well said. Miss you! HUGE HUGS!

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