When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth.” (1 Kings 2:1-2)
While we don’t always want to think about it, every person will eventually reach the end of his or her life journey. Death is as certain as birth. We start by leaving the womb. We end by returning to the earth.
What makes each of us unique is how death comes and how we approach it. Each of us will leave a legacy that extends beyond the years we live. In the text above, King David is very aware that he will soon die. Perhaps he had denied or ignored that truth earlier in his life, but now he is clear. Death will soon take him. So he calls his son Solomon, who will be the next king, and gives him instructions. There are expectations and responsibilities to be passed on. David doesn’t want to leave this to chance, so he speaks clearly to Solomon about this.
We see the same thing happen near the end of Jesus’ life. During the last week of Jesus’ life, even though he was still relatively young, it became clear to him that the opposition was mobilizing and that he would soon be arrested and probably killed. So he called his followers together and spent an evening preparing them for what would lie ahead of them without him being there.
King David and Jesus both share something very important. They have a vision and a commitment to the future that extends beyond their own physical lifetimes. They understand that they are part of something bigger and have the ability to make an impact, in good ways, well beyond their deaths. Neither was afraid to talk about it with the people closest to them. The results were that the next generation was blessed by their commitment and their foresight.
Jesus’ willingness to plan for life after the cross was the beginning of the church. We live nearly two thousand years later in a faith community that exists because Jesus took steps to have his followers ready to take up roles of leadership and responsibility.
Our lives will not be that different. If you are reading this, you have left the womb but have not yet found the grave. But the grave is coming and we need not fear it – Jesus has shown us that. One key to living well and to dying well is preparing the world to thrive without us. Each of us can do that in our own ways, but all of us would be blessed and also be a blessing if we take the time to be as intentional as King David and Jesus were.