by Mike Benson
It would not be accurate to say that he talked about it all of the time. But it would also not be accurate to say that he never talked about it.
Jesus talked about death–specifically, his death.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Matthew 16:21).
He told those closest to him, “I’m gonna die.”
I think of those occasions when I learned of a friend’s or loved one’s impending death. “I can’t believe it! It can’t be so!” I was in denial. In retrospect, I realize now that my reaction was pretty normal.
Peter felt the same way.
“Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying: ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You'” (Matthew 16:22).
He was in denial, too. Evidently, he didn’t want to talk about it either. Either he had different expectations for Jesus, or he couldn’t wrap his brain around Jesus in a tomb.
And yet the Lord kept bringing up that awful, scary subject (Matthew 17:23; Luke 9:22). “I’m going to die, fellas.”
So why did he keep talking about it? Why did he keep mentioning his death?
Part of the answer is that he was preparing them beforehand; He was teaching them how to work through the cross and the tomb. But part of the answer is that he was teaching them, and us by extension, how to navigate with faith through the valley of the shadow.
You see, merely talking about death didn’t kill Jesus. The murderous crowd did that.
But talking about his death helped the twelve work through their fear, anticipatory grief and bereavement. It helped them, whether they realized it or not at the time, to process and prepare for that awful day when Jesus would breathe his last.
This is helpful to me. I don’t know that I need to be talking about death every time that I sit down at the dinner table, but I do know there are times when I should-and must-broach the subject. especially when either I or a loved one knows that death is approaching.
- “I’m feeling scared about dying.”
- “Okay, let’s talk about it together and see what the Bible says…”
- “It’s okay for you to go on–I don’t want to you fight and suffer just for me…”
- “What do you want at your memorial service?”
These kinds of conversations are healthy and biblical. Spiritually healthy people talk and communicate about any and all subjects–even death.
Jesus said, “I’m going to die, guys. Let’s talk about it.”