Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making a Bucket List

A few years ago, I watched the Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson hit movie The Bucket List. In it, two aging men with terminal illnesses seek to accomplish a laundry list of activities before they "kick the bucket."

If there is any benefit to knowing you're going to die sooner than later, it's that you have time to put your affairs in order. Sure, we're all supposed to live like we could not wake up tomorrow morning, but really? We don't...well, you might, but I know I don't.

One homework assignment of my most recent Bible study required me to read everything in the synoptic gospels that occurred in the last week of Jesus' life.

All I can say is "wow."

Yes, Jesus always lived like He was dying. But as His life and ministry drew to a close, He dialed up His teaching, providing us with a perfect example of how we should live, knowing that the clock is ticking down.

When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem the Sunday prior to Passover, He knew He would be dead and in the tomb before sundown on Friday evening, the start of the Sabbath. And so on Monday through Thursday, He taught in the temple with even more fervor than usual in an attempt to leave His disciples then and now with some "final lessons."

Knowing these were Jesus' last lessons before His death makes them that much more important, for a dying man will not waste words when He knows He has so few remaining.

Consider some of those lessons He gave us during that last week:

Jesus' Curse of the Fig Tree: "Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered" (Matt. 21:19).

One lesson learned: a disciple of Jesus who does not bear fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) is worthless.

The Parable of the Two Sons: Jesus said, "'What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?'" (Matt. 21:28-31).

One lesson learned: Jesus doesn't want mere lip service. He wants our faith in action.

The Greatest Commandment: "'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'" (Matt. 22:36-40).

One lesson learned: Serving Jesus means denying myself and putting God and others first.

The Parable of the 10 Virgins: "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'...The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others [who had gone to buy more oil] also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you'" (Matt. 25:1-6, 10-12).

One lesson learned: Our hearts must be prepared, for when Jesus comes back for us, it will then be too late.

I could literally go on and on, as Jesus' teachings spanned chapter after chapter of the gospels. (If you have time before Easter, consider at least skimming through the last week of our Lord's life: Matt. 21-28; Mark 11-16; Luke 19:28-24; John 12:12-21. I know you will be overwhelmed and blessed.)

But consider: what if we each knew how many days were written for us? What if we knew how quickly the clock was counting down--twenty years, one year, one week?

If you sat down and wrote out your own bucket list, what would it include? Would it, like the movie, list activities like skydiving or visiting the pyramids? Getting a tattoo or driving a motorcycle on the Great Wall of China?

Would it focus on things that wouldn't matter once we left this earth?

Or would it list persons you need to share the gospel with? Family and friends you need to make peace with? Someone whom you just need to say out loud, "I love you and appreciate you."

A list like that is worth starting to complete today.

1 comment:

  1. Those lessons and that prep seems to be coming to a close, and I have much left to do. Guess I better get busy...
    Learning to walk in His greater love with you,