The Wisdom of Dying…
Today is Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar. Thus, I consider it most appropriate that we should speak and remind ourselves of the wisdom of the death of Christ as a model for our adoption (as time tested spiritual strategy) for finding eternal life in the Love of the Father. Let us not make any mistake by assuming that Jesus Christ did not have any option than to die! He had. He could reject dying on the cross. He said in John 10:17-18 that:
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. [KJV].
Here, Jesus was speaking of His laying down His life to die in categorical terms as a matter of His obedience to the instruction (the commandment) He had received from His Father! He said the Love the Father has for Him is actually consequent on the fact that He chose to obey the instruction of the Father.
John 10: 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
Jesus’ action of total acceptance and obedience to the commandment of God expresses His total Faith in the assurance (the promise) of the Father that He would take back His life if He would release it and let go of it. Unfortunately, this is the point where we always get stuck in our journey of Faith unlike Jesus: the point of trusting God to lay down our lives in the hope that we would equally be able to take it up again. It is the point we get rationalising: ‘What of if God is not even real? What of if He would not allow me to take my life up again? What of if the issue of faith is just a neatly packaged fable and there is no life after this world...? We are found of raising these questions in our hearts and thus refusing to lay down our lives in dying to sin and selfishness as we embrace the Truth with our lives!
It is very difficult to understand and accept Jesus’s statement in Joh 12:24 that:
“…Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” [KJV].
Jesus was teaching us the wisdom of dying to this world to finding our lives. It is what He would do to find His own life and the life of humanity in general. He was therefore showing us the way to finding our lives, to finding our purpose and our destiny… He knew we would lose our lives by refusing to lose it. He therefore warned in categorical terms that:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” [Matt 10:39, 16:25, Mark 35 & Luke 9:24.]
Again, I don’t want us to make any mistake by assuming that it was completely easy for Jesus to let go of His life particularly at the height of His ministry and popularity! No, it was not easy! Jesus sought the face of the Father if there was an alternative to letting go of His life:
“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” [Mr 14:36, Mat 26:39,42].
“Abba Father” reflects a very deep spiritual agonising of Jesus’ soul in reaching to the Father in pains and the sorrow of an impending death… Below is how Brother Luke recorded the scene:
Luke 22:41-44 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. [KJV].
It was an engaging scene of agonising prayer! Jesus cried unto the Father saying:
“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me…”
But, deep in His Spirit, He knew it was not the will of the Father, else the rider:
“Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done!”
However, He remembered the wisdom of His death as the will and the purpose of the Father for His life. He quickly, but in clear sorrow and agony, accepted the will of the Father to die!
Often, we also come face to face with the challenge of doing the will of the Father by dying to certain things and (or against) the desire to keep and save our lives on mere human terms! I am very clear about this because I have been there before and I know many of you have equally been there before. Many of you already know my Uniosun story very well: how the Management in the attempt to save the woman who manipulated 94 results of graduating students obtained a video to blackmail me to negotiate with them to drop my evidence against the woman. You are already aware of the promises that were made to me to “save my life” on their terms, the human terms, as against the divine terms of a sinner crying unto God in repentance through a Godly sorrow. You already know how in desperation, when I refused to accept the human terms to “save my life”, they then created a non-existing story of sexual harassment to defame my character in the hope that I would go into depression, be ruined and probably commit suicide!
Unfortunately for them, I have been an uncompromising believer in the sanctity of the scripture. I hold as is written in Heb 6:18:
“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, ‘I’ [we] might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” [KJV].
I fled for refuge in/by accepting the wisdom of dying, the wisdom of not attempting to save my life on their [human] terms, the wisdom of falling to the ground like the grain of corn to die in order that I might lay hold of the hope that is set before me! Yes, it was not easy, but by the grace of God of the understanding of the esoteric prognosis of the hope the Divine Essence, God Almighty, has set before me as my purpose and His will for my life, I knew I had to die to live…
There was no question of it (or about it) in my mind! It was and it is still very clear to me even now. The Bible says of this kind of Faith in Romans 10:6-13 that:
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 ¶ For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. [KJV].
The Bible passage above says ‘stop asking the questions of how is God to do it or with what power is He going to do it?’ It says stop doubting what God is going to do by attempting to figure it out on your human terms or with human knowledge. It says your problem is not about who determines the time that Christ comes down from heaven or the reason He goes to the hades. It says you should not worry yourself about what is the exclusive role of God. Your assignment is to believe and call on the name of the Lord, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!”
I hope we will hold unto the truth in those scriptures to superimpose the divine reality therein on every circumstantial realities of our lives?
Let us close today by reading 1 Cor 15:1 to the end together. I just love Paul’s exegesis of the sincerity, the truthfulness, the grace and the power of the Gospel in the passage;
1 Cor 15:1 to 58
1 ¶ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 12 ¶ Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 ¶ But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 35 ¶ But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 ¶ Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 ¶ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. [KJV]
If we would trust God, if we would learn and accept the wisdom of God to die to the world of sin like Christ and die daily as Paul said in verse 31, then will our mortal bodies also put on immortality as every corruption gives way to in-corruption in our lives. Brethren, this is the meaning and the message of Easter!
Are you ready for this wisdom of dying to the flesh and the world?
Let us sing this hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, the Strife is over…
‘Bode Ojoniyi is of Christian Life Resuscitation and Missionary Youth Centre, Osogbo. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348035082896