From time to time I contemplate my own mortality and the inescapable fact that one day my life here will come to an end and I wonder what that will be like.
I include a youtube clip from “Watership Down” when Lord Frith comes for Hazel.
Warning – Hankies at the ready, well it always makes me cry. It is however an example of a good death in the fullness of years, even though it is from a story about rabbits.
Of course I can’t choose the nature of my own death. It may come suddenly and without warning. It may be through accident or disease. I may or may not be conscious.
I pray that I will be ready and recognise the Lord or his angel when he comes, if in the manner of Elgar’s “Dream of Gerontius”. Oblique reference Jude: vs 9
The Lord Jesus may come back before this and then all of us will be taken up as it says in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18. What a day that would be!!!
Some Notes on this clip from “Watership Down” as an allegory
- Hazel recognises his Lord when he comes for him, not at first but then with delight, reverence and awe.
- Hazel is ready to go but casts a look around at his children and dependents. That is those he will leave behind.
- Hazel is assured that they will be alright.
- Hazel lays down and dies, his soul/spirit leaves his body and rejoices in the company of his Lord.
- In addition to these observations there looks like there is a sermon in there about persecution.
Have a look at this scene from Charlie and the Chocolate factory;
There is a problem in Charlie’s relationship with Mr. Wonka because he and his granddad had taken something from the factory without permission. This disqualifies him from receiving the prize of a lifetime supply of chocolate.
What does Charlie do and what does this show?
In Catholic terms can you see, confession,contrition, repentance and forgiveness in this.
Our sin stands between us and God and damages our relationship with God. The actions of Jesus in his death and resurrection puts this right. We need to acknowledge our sins with genuine sorrow and repent,that is turn away from them, and receive the forgiveness which is offered us through Jesus Christ.
Wow! All that in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Have a look at Isaiah Chapter 52 vs 13 to Chapter 53 vs 12. Can there be any doubt that Jesus is being described here, the manner of His death and its purpose? (You might also want to look at Psalm 22)
Now it may seem strange to be looking for a description of Jesus in the old testament but the fit here is really very good. It’s so good that scholars had thought this part must have been written after Jesus, ie AD. But when a copy of the book of Isaiah was found in the Dead Sea scrolls and dated to 100 BC, it confirmed the text as we have it. (book ref Come with me through Isaiah by David Pawson)
So what does Jesus look like? In Ch 53 vs 2 it says, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
In short He was ordinary looking, nothing special – a face you would pass over in a crowd. He was so ordinary that He lived unnoticed for 30 years before starting His ministry. When he started his ministry and was preaching in Nazareth, His home town, people said “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to Him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark Ch 6 vs 2-3
Even John the Baptist seems to have second thoughts and sends two disciples to Jesus to ask “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Read Luke Ch 7 vs 18-23 for the context.
Then when Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, Pilate is rather underwhelmed by Him and dismissive of Him. He sees no fault in Him and wants to release Him but there is a loud outcry from the Chief Priests and the guard and veiled threats. Pilate goes back and takes another look at Jesus and says “Where are you from?” Read John Ch 18 vs 28 to Ch 19 vs 16
These verses seem to confirm that Jesus was ordinary and of unspectacular appearance. It is the things he said and did that show Him to be otherwise.
Do what Pontius Pilate did, Take another look. The Gospel of Mark is a good place to start from.
And as it’s Advent have a look at this YouTube clip;
When I came across this scripture initially it made me smile and have a quiet chuckle. It seemed like a possibility for a Monty Python sketch. I pictured a group of people in a conspiratorial huddle. One says “Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man.” Another a bit puzzled asks “Why?” “Because he annoys us,” comes the answer.
I then began to wonder if virtuous people are annoying? I could see this being so if the virtue was false. An example being a story by Saki called “The Story-Teller” where the main character, Bertha, was horribly good and had three good conduct medals which prove to be her undoing. I thought “Lord save me from being horribly good”.
Yes, false virtue could well be annoying but this is not the virtue mentioned in the scripture. This is true virtue which seems to make others feel under judgement, even if that isn’t the intention, and can provoke a violent response. A simple example is how people who drink can be very disparaging about people who don’t.
Here’s the passage again; Wisdom Chapter 2 verses 12-20
Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing.
He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a son of the Lord.
Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down; his way of life is not like other men’s, the paths he treads are unfamiliar.
In his opinion we are counterfeit: he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth; he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy and boasts of having God for his father.
Let us see if what he says is true,let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.
Powerful and prophetic words indeed, it sounds like the writer is talking about Jesus and the way his enemies treated him.
When I first became a Christian I noticed that Christians told quite awful jokes. Some years later I found that I was also telling awful jokes. For instance there was a cosmetic product called Oil of Ulay” which had changed its name to “Oil of Olay”. I said they must have done this with the Spanish market in mind. My hearers looked a bit gone out at me and then one said, “That’s a terrible joke.” I said,”Yes but you had to think about it for moment didn’t you.”
Now I may not regard myself as virtuous and God alone is good, but if you are wondering if you are making progress in the Christian life look at the quality of your jokes and avoid places of ambush.
For a meditation have a look at this song “Mansion Builder” by the group 2nd Chapter of Acts (good old youtube). For Jesus who prepares a place for us also prepares us for the place.