It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
- John 13:1
“Here is a beautiful description of Christ’s death – ‘to depart from this world to the Father,’ just as though he was merely going on a journey, leaving one land for another. And if this is a fair description of such a stormy passage as that of our Lord Jesus, it must with equal truth describe the death of any of the children of God. The loosing of the cable, the spreading of the sail, the crossing over the narrow sea, the coming of the eternal haven and abiding there – what Christian heart needs to dread this?
“Then consider the abiding love of Christ – ‘having loved his own’ – his by election, his by redemption, for he regarded that as already done which was about to be accomplished. And ‘he loved them to the end,’ or ‘in the perfection’ as it might be rendered. The alpha of his love that we find in eternity bids us believe we will find the omega of it nowhere but there.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
Here we only have one verse of Scripture from which Spurgeon makes two powerful sermon points.
Spurgeon did not mention all the euphemisms that replace the word ‘died’. I often hear passed to the Lord. An old crude one was kicking the bucket. There is giving up the ghost, losing their battle, slipping away, and for those known to be near death already, didn’t make it. (But then, maybe they did…)
There are a variety of reasons to avoid saying “Wilber died.” Maybe because the one who is no longer with us, only in spirit was not named ‘Wilber.’ Some people think it offensive to say ‘dead’, but in the least, using the euphemism softens the blow, is more considerate to other’s feelings, and could be used for spiritual comfort. Hopefully none of those using such euphemisms are in denial or unable to confront the inevitability that we will all perish, meet our demise, or as I quoted Stonewall Jackson last week, gone over the river to rest. Yet, sadly, in some cases, people are in denial or so superstitious that they feel it ‘bad luck’ to say dead too often. In such cases, the one needing reassurance and comfort is the one using euphemisms.
Some might think that Jesus shouldn’t worry about the separation upon death with those that He loved, as He returned on Easter Sunday, but in John 21:14, the Apostle John points out that the fishing trip appearance of Jesus is the third appearance to His disciples, meaning essentially the eleven. Some think that Jesus spent the forty days with His disciples, but it seems that they were on their own for stretches of times and Jesus popped in and out, to coin a phrase. The long lessons on the mountain were rare at this point. At the Last Supper, Jesus was indeed saying His good-byes, knowing the final good-bye would be at the ascension. Maybe we shouldn’t dislike long good-byes so much. It seemed Jesus didn’t mind. After all, He loved His disciples to the end.
Then again, is anything the ‘end’ if we are to be together forever?
For me to ‘go to my Father’, I would have to pass away, myself. My Dad passed away on Cinco de Mayo, nine years ago. To go to God, my Father, I only need to pray to Him. He is right there beside me, within me, guiding me. Someday, I’ll go to be with Jesus, but Jesus is within me anyway. I will, instead, go where we can give each other a big hug.
The use of the color-by-numbers ‘art’ above is for all those who are feeling alone due to social distancing, stay-at-home orders, or quarantine, you are not alone. Jesus is there to give you a hug, a spiritual hug, right now. His arms are open wide.
God loves us. Even thought we screw up with regularity, God loves us, to the end, as if ‘the end’ had any meaning.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.