(This is part three of a series considering how Jesus might answer the question, “What would I do if I only had a week left to live?” See Part One and Part Two.)
4. That week, Jesus loved extravagantly.
Here’s the thing at the core of his week. It wasn’t just the prayer. It wasn’t just the teaching. It wasn’t just the relationship.
It was the death.
We’ll talk about the resurrection next weekend, and we’ll remember that the death wasn’t permanent.
But in this week was the truth that Jesus only had a week to live, and then he would die. Not because he deserved it for breaking laws, but that’s how he was killed. He was crucified, a Roman form of capital punishment.
Take a life, lose your life. That’s the core of capital punishment.
There is an equation about it, which, like it or not, satisfying or not, is an equation that has some justice. There were other reasons that people might die. Treason. Rebellion against the Roman state. Blasphemy.
But what if you haven’t taken a life? In fact, what if your whole life has been perfect, giving healing and life to others? What if every act, every thought, every breath, has been about living perfectly, giving life, the opposite of blasphemy.
Capital punishment in that case makes no sense.
Yet that’s what happened.
So if it wasn’t because he deserved it, why did Christ die? Because we deserved that punishment.
When Paul wrote about Christ’s work he said, “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
So if “take a life, lose your life” is at the core of capital punishment, then “Lose your life, make life available”, that’s the core of Jesus’ death.
Jesus showed his love by willingly surrendering his life. That’s what he did with his last week, his last month, his last year, his last five years, his life.
During this Holy Week, as we think about how Jesus focused on those around him and us during his last days, it’s worth it for us to consider our lives, which for most of us will last more than a week.
- How can we stay in conversation with God? How can we develop it while our lives are less urgent?
- How can we do our work as well as we have ever done it?
- How can we attend to our relationships with attention and devotion?
- How can we respond to Christ’s deep love for us?