READ: Deuteronomy 1-3, Psalm 53, Luke 9, 1 Corinthians 9
As Jesus prays, His face is altered (Luke 9:29). Moses and Elijah (glorified by death) appear to Jesus and speak to Him about “His decease, which He was about to accomplish” (v. 31). Jesus descends the mountain encouraged again to die well.
Death – the last enemy – is so intimidating. We dread it, fear it, clutch at the last vestiges of our pitiful earthly life in panic. Those that have gone before us in the faith remind us that death is something to be attained, death is our final earthly accomplishment.
How well Satan has done his work in convincing us of the superiority and finality of this boring temporal existence. Our spirits have become clouded and our eyes blurred. We have forgotten that we are sleeping, that these are the shadowlands, that we live dimly, that we are limited by flesh, sin, and the devil. Physical death is but ultimate spiritual birth – for those submitted to Jesus – and it ushers us into the unmitigated presence of Jesus. Physical death is our ticket home.
Physical death is not the only accomplishment to be gained however, for in this temporal life we also have the possibility of dying to self. It is the fool who lives life without consulting God or who tries to die to self in his or her own power (Ps. 53:1). God has begun to give us the promised land of a life lived for others, but we must go in and possess it. In this battle to die to self, God will go before us, He will fight for us, He will carry us, He will search out a place for us (Deuteronomy 1) but the promised land of self denial still requires our belief (that it is truly a place of refuge) and our action. Unbelief in God is betrayal. We must believe there is joy and liberty in dying to self if we are going to stand in that territory and posses it.
When we die to self we begin to wake up to heavenly joys. There is resurrection life that can only be experienced on the other side of death accomplished. The eternal fulfillment of this will only be realized when we cross Jordan for ourselves, but God in His mercy allows us a foretaste. Dying to self gives us an appetizer of the glorious joy that will be forever ours when we awake from this earthly slumber. It is a preview – if you will – of the joy set before us. Dying to self then is not an accomplishment in the merit badge sense; it is its own reward, for it gives us a taste of heaven. Don’t starve your own soul by being reluctant to die.