As we commemorate the death of our Lord, there is so much to take in. I am way over my head to even speak about it, much less write something about it. Nevertheless, it is Good Friday, and I have read over the Gospel accounts of this portion of the Gospel story. I was wondering, does Jesus show us how to die? Though none of us will die as He did, for the sins of the world, can we learn anything from the way He approached death? Can we imitate Jesus as we face our own mortality?
First of all, we should consider how Jesus resigned Himself to His approaching death. He asked God to take the cup away, but submitted to God by saying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will: (Mt. 26:39). We can see two things here. One is that it is lawful for us to beg God to extend our lives. We should pray for healing and deliverance. Secondly, we are to submit to His will just as our Savior did.
The next thing to notice is Jesus’ calm spirit. Once He had resolved this issue with His Father, he was met by His betrayer and the multitude who laid hands on Him. He not only remains calm, but He remains in charge. He is giving instructions to His disciples, and He addresses the multitude, pointing out the fulfillment of prophesy. He understands the moment, sees the big picture, and is not distracted even though He knows He is just a few hours away from death. He is not just navigating His own journey, but leading His disciples and pointing out to the unruly crowd that God is doing as as He said.
Third, He kept silent (Mt. 26:63, 27:12,14). Only when the high priest put Him under oath did Jesus respond, “It is as you said” (vs. 64). And when the governor asked Him if He was the King of the Jews, He replied, “It is as you say” (vs. 11). He had control of His own spirit and chose not to respond to His accusers or mockers when they blasphemed Him (Luke 22:65).
Fourth, He was forward looking. In response to the high priest he says, “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” He was looking past His death to the glory. When the women were mourning and lamenting as he walked to His death, He spoke to them about the future judgment, not about Himself. (Luke 23:28). And in John 19:25-27, Jesus tells his disciple to look after His mother. In all these things, Jesus was looking ahead, not behind. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame.
Given His example (and of course much more could be gleaned than these few points), we can pray and trust that we will live well and die well, imitating Jesus in it all.