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  • Jim Lovelady

Day 31: Die That You May Live

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.--John 11:25

Christianity is paradoxical. It's an invitation to abundant life, joy and peace…only after great suffering and death. It's counterintuitive and not very marketable (that whole "take up your cross and follow me" thing). I think most of our day is spent navigating the daily grind of life while holding onto the counterintuitive call to lay down our lives for others in one hand and holding onto our intense and rather instinctual desire for self-preservation in the other hand.

Let's explore the invitation to "die that you may live"...

Dave Matthews has pretty much written my devotional for me: what if you took a seat at the bar and the bartender was God himself? What would you say? Dave Matthews says, "Give me real life! Take me away from the suffering and meaninglessness of this life! Save me from having too much and from having too little. Give me the wine that you gave Jesus that set him free after three days in the ground!"

This is a really good prayer.

The response is a tender yet strong and confident, "Come and die."

This is the point where we all relate to the rich young ruler.

Jesus was going on His way. A man ran to Him and got down on his knees. He said, “Good Teacher, what must I do to have life that lasts forever?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? There is only One Who is good. That is God. You know the Laws, ‘Do not be guilty of sex sins in marriage. Do not kill another person. Do not take things from people in wrong ways. Do not steal. Do not lie. Respect your father and mother.’”  The man said to Jesus, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these Laws since I was a boy.”  Jesus looked at him with love and said, “There is one thing for you to do yet. Go and sell everything you have and give the money to poor people. You will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.”  When the man heard these words, he was sad. He walked away with sorrow because he had many riches here on earth.--Mark 10:17-22

The rich young ruler had a clear feeling that no matter what he did, things weren't quite right yet. The wine that was drinking him "came from the vine that strung Judas from the devil's tree." In other words, life was still killing him. In response, Jesus went straight to the most counterintuitive place, the darkest place in this man's psyche and he said with a love beyond understanding, "That thing there needs to die."

"I came here for life and you offer me death?!"

This is one of the most nerve wracking passages in the Bible because I am no mere onlooker. We must see ourselves as the rich young ruler. Only, it's not "money wealth" for me. It's reputation and ability and good looks and popularity. It's that those kinds of wealth protect me from the kind of death to self that Jesus is inviting me into. I also truly believe that I will never give these things up without a fight. I am the one who goes away sad (literally, often times manifested in depression) rather than trusting Jesus with those things.

I don't want to die that I may live; I have too high a sense of self-preservation.

What life are you thirsty for? What is your unquenchable thirst? Would you go to the bartender and ask for the elixir that would give you the life of Jesus if you knew that it would first require your death? Remember, your Savior went before you and calls you into something that he has experienced more fully and ultimately than you will ever have to...

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.  When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.--John 19:28–30

So I'll pull up a chair at the bar...

Jesus, looked at Jim with love and said, "Give up your fantasy world and come follow me into something real," but Jim went away sad…but he kept coming back--because, where else would he go?...and the Savior said the same thing, "Give up your fantasy world and come follow me into something real." Over and over Jim went away sad but he kept coming back and unbeknownst to Jim, all this time the Savior was changing him, softening him, revealing to him the beauty of a patient God of grace who tenderly pries open stingy hands to exchange the cup of death in order to hold the cup of life.

So Jim would run back to the Rabbi more frequently and ask, "What must I do to be saved?" as if asking for the first time and the King would reply, "The things you feel you can't live without, let those go and come follow me so I can give you what you really need."

What will you say to the Master when he looks at you with love?

“Is anyone thirsty? 

Come and drink— 

even if you have no money! 

Come, take your choice of wine or milk— 

it’s all free! 

Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? 

Why pay for food that does you no good? 

Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. 

You will enjoy the finest food. 

“Come to me with your ears wide open. 

Listen, and you will find life. 

I will make an everlasting covenant with you. 

I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.--Isaiah 55:1–3

I confess, I am thirsty. Be patient with this stubborn, rich young ruler as I stumble back to the Fountain of Life. Fill my glass with the wine of your resurrection life. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. You alone offer words of eternal life. Amen.

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Kamala King
Kamala King
Apr 11, 2019

The dying starts when we look at others with the same self-sacrificing love that Jesus looks at us.


Apr 10, 2019

When I was younger, I was talking with my mom about being a scaredy-cat. I was telling her how I was afraid when another friend was brave. She said, “You’re not a scaredy-cat, you just have a high sense of self-preservation.” I laugh about that now because I realize what a saleswoman my mom is. She paints a better picture of me than I see of myself. But, the truth is that I buy into that type of thinking: I’m better than I actually am. I don’t REALLY need to die to myself. My actions truly are self-sacrificing.

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