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The Decease We Accomplish

by Tim O'Hearn

There is an intriguing statement in Luke's account of the transfiguration. It puts Jesus in an unusual light, at least in usual human terms.

And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. (Lk 9:28-32)

It is in the verse that tells about what Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about. They were talking about his death which he would "accomplish" at Jerusalem. For most of us death isn't an accomplishment. Not only don't we plan on dying, usually we don't expect it to serve a purpose. Jesus, on the other hand knew from the beginning that he would die, and when, and what purpose his death would serve.

Even before Jesus became bar mitzvah he spent time studying Torah with the prominent rabbis of his time. When his parents questioned what he was doing he replied, "Do you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" (Lk 2:49) Even before taking on the responsibilities of a Jewish man he knew that he had a purpose—his Father's purpose.

To another group of people he revealed that his death would serve a purpose. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." (Jn 12:32-33) He also spoke of being lifted up to Nicodemus. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn 3:14-15) Early in his ministry he knew that his death was meant to bring eternal life. It was in death that he would accomplish the meaning of his life.

Most people never know what they have accomplished. Few even among their acquaintances know what their life or their death will accomplish. Even most who attain some form of celebrity rarely can point to a major spiritual accomplishment. Occasionally there will come a shining light. I know of a young lady from Hobbs, New Mexico, who died recently. I grew up with her mother. She affected more people in her brief life and battle with disease than most of us dream of touching. I still hear occasionally about people who were made more aware of life and of God by her courage. She may not have had Moses and Elijah come to talk about her decease that she would accomplish in Hobbs, but she accomplished much.

Yet what will the rest of us accomplish? Much indeed, if we will. "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." (1 Pet 3:1-2) "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Tim 2:15) Perhaps not by death but by life, Paul says women may accomplish much. The men likewise. "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." (1 Tim 3:1) Nor do we have to be elders. Living and dying for Christ in front of our children or acquaintances is a great accomplishment. We don't have to be known throughout the world. The only one who needs to see the life or decease we accomplish is God. Let us all strive to accomplish much for His glory.