From the beginning of his teaching ministry, Jesus constantly referred to his coming death. Jesus, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world was virtually born crucified.
Jesus continually declared his death and resurrection for the world's redemption, not as the victim, but as the glorious victor.
A.M. Fairbairn, in his "Studies in the Life of Christ," expressed, "In those last hours, how dignified his silence, how Divine his speech, how complete his self-sufficiency. Round him there is fretful noise, in him there is majestic calm, about him violence, within peace. When man's faith in him died, Jesus knew himself, and no event can unsettle his knowledge or disturb his spirit."
Since his ascension after his death and resurrection, Jesus actively fulfills the promise that he receives believers unto himself to share the prepared place for a prepared people.
Handling life in a world that is seen, for the most part, as noisy, filthy, and congested with crime, diseases and all manner of terrible circumstances, it's difficult to make sense of why our good and loving God even allows us to exist.
But, it is the very fact that we are human beings with free will, that it is up to us how we choose to live. Lee Strobel, in his "Case for Faith," says the overwhelming majority of the pain in the world is caused by our choices to kill, to slander, to be selfish, to break our promises, to be reckless.
Choosing to be virtuous in our corrupt world isn't easy. Even the idea of "what is virtue" has been an ongoing topic of social deliberation for years. Christians repeatedly fall short of Christian ideals, and act contrary to Christ because we're human. We are weak and puny without Him. So, we persistently decide to put our trust in Christ.
What we continually need is grace to live as Jesus wants us to live. There are many passages that guide us about finding the peace of Christ. In Rom. 8:6; Isa. 57:2; Gal. 5:22; throughout the Psalms, we are taught how a peaceful spirit is available through Jesus Christ.
The grace of forgiveness is one of the most beautiful and powerful gifts from God. When God forgives us, there is an immediate and complete change in the nature of our relationship with Him.
When God forgives, He drops all charges against us. He will not enforce the judgment due to us because of our sins. "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:11.
To maintain a close relationship with God, we need to ask daily for forgiveness of our sins. Those who understand the depths of their own sin, and then receive God's merciful forgiveness, know what an amazing gift His forgiveness really is.
People search many directions to find peace and meaning in life, and are still frustrated, lonely, hurt and trapped by sin. Confessing our sin eliminates uncertainty and doubt, and keeps us close to God. Jesus came into the world to give spiritual peace. Peace comes from fellowship with God.
A Christian can confront death realistically, yet victoriously. Though inevitable and yet often unexpected, death should not catch us off guard.
Whether we die young or old, naturally or tragically, let our prayer be, "May my end be as His end." And, this will only happen when we receive Jesus as our personal Savior. Then we will die in hope that where he is, there shall we be also.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Claire Heiby at 376-5445 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.