With so many cliche sayings out there, this is one that actually is truthful: “always start with the end in mind” OR “its not how you start, but how you finish”. When starting a project, a new job, a new relationship even, its always good to think to yourself “Where do I want this to go?”
So, let me jump feet first to the question, you’ve heard it many times before I’m sure: What do you want to be known for? What do you want engraved on your tombstone? (Feel free to share in the comments section!!) It’s crazy to think about. We live a life with so many seconds, minutes, hours, days, YEARS…but your not going to be known for even a fraction of that. So, what is that one outstanding thing going to be? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be known as someone who knew Jesus, enjoyed Jesus, loved Jesus, and had your daily focus towards Jesus? That is the hope I have for myself, and that is my hope for you also!
I want my life to begin AND end with Jesus.
In John 13, we read about the last supper. Things got a little bit joggled at the end of the meal:
“…”Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said,”ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered,”It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas…”
So, if you’ve read some of my other posts, I have talked about how John is the disciple of love. And we see here that John lived life as if he were Jesus’ favorite. John is described as reclining next to Jesus. In the KJV, it reads that John is leaning on Jesus’ bosom & leaning back on Jesus’ breast. I read that and thought it to be so strange – I would not want anyone in my personal space like that while I’m trying to eat! But, in the Jewish culture these terms were symbolic of care, fellowship, and intimacy.
At the end of John, in chapter 19, we see Jesus on the cross. Guess who is beside the cross in the end – John.
In Mark 27 – 31, Jesus tells the disciples that they all will desert him. The one disciple that speaks up is Peter who says “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” and “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” Next thing you know, Peter denies God 3 different times. And, at the end of Jesus life, Peter is noticeably absent at the cross. So while John is at the foot of the cross, Peter is out somewhere fixated on his failures. From John and Peter, we can find the answer to how to remain faithful with God to the end.
When you go back and look at John 13 (the last supper), Jesus says someone betrays him. Everyone starts making a commotion, wondering who the betrayer will be. But John just sits there, leaning on Jesus. On the other hand, Peter is frantically trying to figure out who the bad guy is, he’s probably pointing his fingers at everyone in the room…besides Jesus and himself.
Can’t we all relate to that to some degree? When painful or difficult things come up in life, our reaction is to jump up like Peter and do something, figure something out to help (so we think) the situation. I find myself doing this with my family. I have been very blessed to have my parents still married after…sheesh..30 years or so. But, they are not happy – I know it, they know it, our family knows it. That’s one of the reasons why it is so difficult for me to continue living here. When they get into yelling arguments, I tend to try to be a middle man, keep their mind off of whatever the argument is about, be a voice of reason. I try to help. I feel like I need to fix it. I am like Peter, I am active, I strive to make things right in the situation. Unfortunately, Peter showed us that if we live by the law, we die by the law.
Shouldn’t we be more like John?
John is over to the side essentially using Jesus as a pillow. John has full trust in Jesus, and in his love for Jesus. He knew that he could rest his head on Jesus despite the chaos, fear, and uncertainty. Love was how he started and how he lived his life, and love led him to finish well. I mean, he was known as “The disciple Jesus loved”! He knew that his true security and strength were found not in frantic human effort but in resting in Jesus’ love.
We can’t put our trust in ourselves. Vows wont keep us at the foot of the cross – only love will. We need to let love lead instead of our brawn, brains, and bravery. Our lives must start and end with a dependence on God.