If you were given one week to live, what would that week look like for you? What would you do? Where would you go? What would you change about your normal rhythm? Who would you forgive? How would you spend your time? Would you get up earlier, stay up later? Would anything change at all? It’s a challenging question.
But the answer draws several conclusions about how we have lived up until this point, what our priorities are, and our devotion to what matters most… So, how would you? Live that is?
In Mark Chapter 11, verse 9 we pick up at the start of what would be Jesus final week before his death. Things started with a bang. There was the parade as Jesus rode into town on the back of a donkey with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people throwing down their coats before Him and waving palm branches. It looked like he had come to claim Jerusalem as the throne of his earthly Kingdom.
His first stop? The temple. He parked the donkey outside and went in and verse 11 says “He looked around at everything but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”
If it was your last week? What would you do? Would the temple be the first place you stopped? When all the attention comes to you and all eyes are one you, and the parade of attention winds down, where would you go? The first day, Sunday, Jesus went to the temple and he looked around at everything, he made an assessment, he took inventory, and then he rested.
Day 2, Monday, verse 12: Jesus is hungry, he sees a fig tree in leaf. He goes to it for fruit. Verse 13 says It wasn’t the season for fruit. But in verse 14 he cursed the tree. “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” There was an edge to Jesus. Isn’t there an edge in your life when you face a terminal illness, when the end is near?
I think we see this in Jesus. We see the edge. Jesus sees this tree that is lush with leaves, but no fruit and it reminds him of what he saw the night before when he went to the temple. The reality that the religious establishment was all about appearance and no fruit.
This is the day he turned over the tables. This is the day he cleared the temple. If you had only one week to live, what would stir passion in you? The devoted confront the establishment by choosing God’s purpose over momentary comfort.
Tuesday was a long day! In Verse 27 Jesus was in meetings all day where he was questioned about his authority. He spoke in parables about the love of a father, the vineyard owner, who sent his son with a message that the workers rejected. He spoke of his identity and the greatest commandment to Love God and others. Tuesday ended though with Jesus attention on a widow. Think about that for a minute. Jesus had only a few days left with his disciples. If Jesus was a little preoccupied, withdrawn or reserved, that would be understandable. If he was a little pessimistic or cynical. After all, he had spent the last 3 years trying to get his message across to these dullards. But Jesus was focused, he was on the lookout for people who were getting it right.
Tell me. Would you have noticed the widow? Would you have even been sitting there in the temple on Tuesday night? Where would you be? The devoted are at all times attentive to the people around them. They have a way of not getting caught up in things that really don’t matter.
Wednesday. Wednesday is perhaps the most interesting day because Mark doesn’t record anything about it. Nothing is recorded about Jesus’ whereabouts or activities on Wednesday. But here is what I see. It’s a pattern in Jesus life. He had a rhythm of work and rest. He plunged himself into ministry, working from sun up to sundown, healing, teaching, feeding, touching. And then he would always withdraw from the crowd, carving out time for rest and solitude. But please note, his life wasn’t “balanced”. It’s not like he had his every hour scheduled in his daytimer or iphone. He had a rhythm of work and rest that was God honoring.
It is the same for the Devoted. There is a God ordained rhythm to life that the devoted live in.
Jesus did have one last night with his friends. Mark Chapter 14, verse 17. It was Thursday. One last chance to talk to them about what mattered most, what they could not afford to forget. They ate together, but at the end of the meal, in Johns gospel, Jesus picks up a towel and a bowl of water and before anyone is aware of what’s happening the hands that held everything together were washing the grim off road weary feet. It got their attention.
When Thursday night came, Jesus had said what needed to be said, done what needed to be done, and he was confident in his identity so much so that when the disciples wanted to fight off his impending death, his arrest, he quieted them and went with the authorities. The reality of heaven supersedes the present suffering of the devoted.
And then on that Friday, that Famous Friday, as he was beaten, his body began to break down, people standing around watching him suffer, He was able to come to the final breath and say “It is finished”. I’ve done everything you, God, sent me to do.
What about you? I’m convinced we wait too long. We wait for the diagnosis, or the abrupt interruption in our life to force us to make changes, and we are no where near finished when our time comes. Even the people closest to us are unsure of our faith, our belief in God. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Apostle Paul, a devoted follower of God, would say of his own life: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:6-8)(NIV).
There was no question about Paul's life and where he stood in his faith. Not since that day on the road when he met Jesus. And the same is true for every devoted follower. The faithfulness of the devoted is obvious well before the final week or days of our life.
My question to you today is – why wait? Why wait until you have a week to live? Why wait until something is taken from you? Why wait until you feel the correcting rod of God in your life? Why not live today as if it is your only day? Not in wild reckless abandon, but by pouring yourself out completely for the one who died for you, never a forgiving word withheld, an encouraging word unsaid. Never a departure without I love you. Every challenge embraced as an opportunity – go against the establishment. No matter the darkness of the moment, certain of our purpose and destiny – to be home with the Lord.
The reality is, the diagnosis has already been given. Sin leads to death. Will you turn from sin today and live for Jesus who lived his life to take the sting of death from you? The opportunity is before you now. Don’t wait.
I’ll see you this Saturday night at 5:30 or Sunday at 10:30. Dave