I recently asked the question on twitter, “What would you do if you knew you only had one week to live?” I must admit that I didn’t know what to expect in terms of responses, but the first response I received seemed to sum up a prevailing sentiment. It read, “It’s been 23 mins… I think we are all too scared to respond!!! :)” Other responses expressed the need to spend time with family and friends and let them know they are deeply loved. One responder even indicated that he would try the Hezekiah route and pray for an extension on the week. Whatever your response (or non-response) would be, it’s apparent that we all have our own ideas as to what we’d do if we knew we only had one week to live.
One week to live? In case you’re unclear, that’s 7-days, or 168 hours, or 10,080 mins, or… (I’m sure you get the point). In the grand scheme of things, that’s hardly a significant amount of time, unless it’s the last 10,080 minutes you have to live, then it suddenly puts your entire life in proper perspective. If the truth be told, I’m not certain I could give an all-encompassing answer to my own question. I mean, would turning off the cell phone, disconnecting DIRECTV and focusing exclusively on my family constitute a profound response? If I haven’t focused on my family (no pun intended) all the years leading up to my final week, would that one week really make the difference? If I’m being honest, I don’t know what I would do (at least not completely), but I do know what someone else did. Someone to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude and for whom we should be living our lives out loud.
John 12: 1 begins with the words, “Six days before the Passover…” In other words, five days before Jesus met His prophesied end on a Roman cross (The Passover was on a Sabbath which followed the day after Jesus’ execution, and so bodies could not be left on the cross overnight and taken down on the Sabbath, which is why the other two men’s deaths were hastened by the breaking of their knees). When you know you have only one week to live I imagine your thinking becomes clearer and your life distills the significant from the irrelevant. Here’s a working list of the things Jesus did beginning at John 12: 1.
- He had dinner at Lazarus’ place (John 12: 1-2)
- He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (knowing it was the place where He’d meet His end) to the cheers of the very people that would call for His death three days later.
- He separated Himself from the crowd. “When Jesus had said these things, He departed and hid Himself from them.” (John 12: 36)
- He washed His Disciples feet (including Judas’) as a demonstration of loving, servant leadership. (John 13: 2-5)
- He had dinner with His Disciples (including Judas)
- He encouraged His despondent Disciples and prayed for them in the Garden of Gethsemane (to the point of sweating blood), even though He was the one about to pay the ultimate price and suffer the ignominy of death on a cross.
- He stood trial before the High Priest and the High Priest's father-in-law having committed no crime whatsoever.
- He was denied publicly by one of His dearest and supposedly most loyal friend and supporter.
- He stood trial before Pilate under a fraudulent and concocted charge.
- He was flogged, ridiculed, spat upon and finally, nailed to a roughly-hewn Roman cross.
The thing that strikes me most about this list is how normal it is. These are the things Jesus did routinely (obviously, other than the things that led up to His being crucified). His life was filled with focus and purpose. I wonder if that’s how we’re supposed to live? I wonder what it would feel like to live with such focus and purpose that, knowing I had just one week to live would not change anything I’m doing? I wonder if it would make us more effective and more passionate Christ-followers if we chose to live as if we had just one more week to live?