Philippians 3; Ezekiel 23; Isaiah 51
How can anyone resist the scene of a little child born among the animals because there was no other room for him? The irony of wise men and shepherds worshiping a babe in the manger is a story that all can love. Well, most people can, anyway. Yet few like to take time away from the celebration of the birth of Jesus to focus on the purpose of His birth. The hard truth is that this baby, worshiped at the manger, was born to die a cruel, humiliating death. That death, though, however cruel and humiliating it was, would restore our relationship with God. That death would not be final either as He would rise from the dead in glory. And so it is that Paul reminds us of our commitment as followers of Christ: “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Philippians 3:10) Death is not our enemy anymore. In fact, Paul also said in this passage that to die is gain; death brings us into the physical presence of God. While we live, though, we are called to know Jesus and to live in the power of His resurrection. What an amazing power that is! As feared as death may be; we need not fear the grave because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. What power that gives us over those who would seek to take our lives. We are to live in the fellowship of His sufferings. That may be harder than being ready to die for the sake of the gospel. Most followers of Christ would admit that they can handle death; they know the final outcome. It’s the process of dying that’s frightening. Paul calls us to embrace the suffering that leads to death. Even the process of dying – especially if it happens in our service for Christ – is redemptive. It is said of Christians that we die well. Let that always be true of the followers of Christ. Let us live well, let us face the sufferings of dying, especially when done for our faith, well, and then let us die well knowing that our God will take care of us and use all these things for His glory.
Lord, no one can see the future. I don’t fear death, but I don’t really like the idea of the dying process. Still, I know that You hold the future. Give me the grace to trust You through each stage of life and let my life, my dying, and my death show Your love and grace to others.