Eugene Cho

What would we do if we only had one week to live? Jesus borrowed a donkey, washed dirty feet, and got crucified.

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Imagine if you had only one week to live, or one month, or one year. Seriously, take a few minutes to imagine the emotional roller coaster.

Imagine if you knew that you were going to only live until you were 33 years old and that your death would come in the most horrific manner imaginable.

As some may know, “Palm Sunday” marks the beginning of Passion Week – the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. As we engage in Passion Week, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the life of Jesus and in particularly, his final week. Some may make the mistake of thinking or assuming that since Jesus was fully God, he didn’t experience human anguish. But Jesus wasn’t just fully God, he chose to be fully human. He was God who assumed humanity. He took upon himself flesh and bone. And in and through this…Jesus understood the fullness of our human condition. Jesus understood hunger, thirst, temptations, anguish, the pain of human betrayal, sadness.  During the final week of Jesus’ life, we see a glimpse of his humanity as he anguished in prayer at Gethsemane.

Before we try to jump to the celebration of His resurrection, we need to take the time to walk with Christ during the last week of his life.

So as I reflect upon the final week of Jesus’ life, it’s only natural for me to ponder what I would do if I knew I only had one week to live.

Don’t we all have what we call a “bucket list?” 

…Stuff that we want to do before experience our physical death?

I do. I have both a mental list and a list of some stuff I’ve started compiling in my notebook. Here’s at least 5 things I’d like to do if I have a week (or month) to live:

Family.

I want to enjoy some quality time with my wife, children, and parents.

I know. I know. It’s a given. And some may assume a very obligatory answer. But…a great meal with my family would be high on my priority.

Preach one final time at Quest.

I planted  Quest Church in 2001 and still have the privilege of being the senior pastor here. If I had one week to live…I’d love to give one more sermon and while I currently preach a good solid hour on any given Sunday, I’d preach for a really really really long time and won’t care if I get any dirty looks from parents. It’s gonna be long. Real long. And then a long communion.

And everyone’s gonna like it.

Fly to my dream destinations.

I’d love to travel to a few places I’ve always wanted to go but have yet to: New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Peru, Morocco, etc.

Okay…there’s just too many places and such limited time.  I’m not sure how I’d be able to go to all of these places so let’s just say anywhere warm, with a beach, and with snorkeling, or para sailing, or sailing, or marlin fishing, or hang gliding, or…

Catch couple futbol games in Europe. Yes. Please. Arsenal vs. Manchester. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona.

Eat really good food

…so I’ll want to go to Olive Garden. Okay. I’m just kidding.

I’d love to fly to Japan and eat at a sushi restaurant called Sukiyabashi Jiro where it is owned and run by Japanese chef, Jiro Ono – considered by many to be the greatest sushi chef in the world. Supposedly, you have to make reservations up to a year in advance and pay up front $368 for a fixed menu of 20 pieces of sushi. Some may have seen a documentary entitled Jiro Dreams of Sushi precisely about this master chef.

Yes, I want to eat here if I had only one week to live. $368 for sushi? I. don’t. care.

I want to drive a fast car.

I’m not a really big car buff. Okay, every now and then, I’ll look at car magazines but I don’t know much about engines, v-12 liters, 26 inch rims, and 500 horses and whatever.

But, let me be honest: If I had one week to live…I’m gonna do it. I already told my wife.

I’m gonna splurge and rent a Ferrari or a Lamborghini or a Bugatti. A red one. Or a black one. Or both. And I’m gonna drive it all around for hours and hours. And then drive some more. All around. Like I don’t really care. And I’m gonna go a little faster than the speed limit. This Ferrari car, LaFerrari,  that goes 0-62 mph in less than 3 seconds and 0-186 mph in 15 seconds sounds good. The 1000 horsepower sounds adequate.

How about Jesus on his final week on earth?

And this is what amazes and compels me.

Yes, he’s Jesus but he also assumed full humanity. But precisely because he’s Jesus, we neglect to speak much of his courage, passion, and radical obedience to the Father.

What did Jesus do during his final week? Not quite a typical bucket list like ours:

  • Jesus chooses to “splurge” on a borrowed donkey (aka ass) and a colt to enter into Jerusalem. Maximum speed: 2 miles per hour. Maybe.
  • Jesus turns tables, lashes his whip, and cleanses out the Temple. Some basic spring cleaning. So much for avoiding conflict and having a restful and peaceful final week.
  • Jesus chooses to wash the feet of his own disciples. And remember that a) feet were extremely dirty, and b) foot washing was the duty of the lowliest of slaves.
  • Jesus eats a meal with his closest friends – a bunch of misfits. And…they’re still arguing and fighting for position.
  • Jesus prays in agony at the Garden of Gethsemane. He prays till he bleeds. Literally. It’s called hematohidrosis.
  • Jesus is betrayed by one of his closer friends…for 30 silver coins. And just in case you can’t connect the dots, he was eating his final meal with Judas – who He knew was going to betray him. And oh, Jesus washed his feet, too.
  • Jesus is captured, beaten, mocked, flogged, whipped, spat upon, and…
  • Jesus is crucified and murdered.

What a final week…

Jesus was human but he was also fully God and in his fully divinity, he chose to assume flesh and bone. He came and dwelt among us. He lived. He showed us the way. He loved. He healed. He taught. He forgave. He rebuked. He loved. And Jesus went to the Cross and died for the sins of the world.

Why do I love and follow Jesus?

Because Jesus was full of courage, passion, and love. 
Because a perfect  Jesus died for an utterly imperfect humanity.
Because Jesus died…and rose again.

Thanks be to God!

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15 Responses

  1. Esther Hah says:

    Thank you for sharing from such an angle, it touched my heart. 2 years ago, I was in the situation of being just before death (my oncologist surely expected it as I found out recently!) and I did not have the mental ability to think what I would like to do, I was too weak to breathe properly. But noticing the horrendous pain in my dearest husband’s heart through his eyes was the most painful thing I ever experienced. I was longing to die soon in order to spare my beloved the pain of seeing me suffer so much. God has spared my life, Hallelujah! – Ever since I am convinced that we should give greater thought to Jesus suffering in his HEART. As he noticed his loved ones suffer because of witnessing him in such agony, Jesus heart much have been haemorrhaging with pain. I believe that his heart was bleeding as much as his body… esther

  2. Sejin says:

    AH! So great to see the differences of what I would also consider my final week and Jesus’s final week. He’s so good!

  3. Thank you for sharing this reflection. When I saw your tweet’s headline, my thought was:

    ‘To continue doing what I try to do everyday; which is, to do God’s will through any big or small opportunities He grants’

    After reading your words, I was left with the thought that Jesus did precisely that. He knew through prayer, what the will of the Father was at every step.

    May this week be filled with profound reflections and deep gratitude.

  4. Bruce Strom says:

    I would also spend time with friends and it would be nice to think one wouldn’t betray me, another deny he knew me and all others run away. I like court rooms and spent a lot of time there as a trial lawyer but never in the middle of the night and never under such unbelievably unjust circumstances. If I could call down fire from heaven, I think that’s what I would do. But not our Savior. He showed us what true love is. They say the true measure of a man is seen when every thing is going wrong. What a measure. What a man. What a Savior.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  5. Janice says:

    Wow. Thank you for this modern perspective.

    What a Savior, indeed!

  6. […] Jesus chose to borrow a donkey, do some “spring cleaning”, wash dirty feet and get cruci…. We have to engage in the the uncomfortable reflections of Good Friday and culminating in the celebration of the Risen Lord. It is truly special. A worthwhile celebration! […]

  7. […] What would you do if you had one week to live?  Eugene Cho shares what he would do and then points us to Jesus who bought a donkey, turned over tabl…. […]

  8. […] What would we do if we only had one week to live? Jesus borrowed a donkey, washed dirty feet, and got crucified. […]

  9. […] Eugene Cho offers a powerful reflection of what he would do, and Jesus did with his last week. […]

  10. Dave Allim says:

    He did His Father’s will. Isn’t that what we should be doing every week? Why do emerging pastors try so hard to be ingenious, unique and profound? Is there drive for significance that huge? Take up your cross daily, Jesus says. He did for us. So we do it daily in gratitude for him. Don’t need a cool reflection to follow His command.

  11. […] Eugene Cho – What would we do if we only had one week to live? […]

  12. Chris says:

    A very enlightening post to everyone on how each one of us could spend our lives on valuable things. Many of us are burdened by not being able to buy and afford luxury products and services when in fact there are people out there who can’t even afford the basics such as food, clothing, and decent shelter.

    Jesus showed a humble example by spending His final week on Earth as an ordinary man. He still chose to serve His people. Not everyone is capable of this sacrificial act. He died even though He was capable of escaping it.

    Persons, especially those who have terminal illnesses question God as to why they have to suffer such fate. They spend their final days putting God’s authority and His plan for them under scrutiny. How about spending our final week asking forgiveness for our sins?

  13. Reblogged this on myfullemptynest and commented:
    More thoughts on Holy Week.

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One Day’s Wages

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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant.

Be faithful.

PS: Also, it helps to get some Vitamin D especially if you live in the rainy Northwest Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

Join his campaign as he's inviting his fans to donate just $7. - http://onedayswages.org/jlin

Did you know that 32 million girls of lower secondary school age are not enrolled in school.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
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