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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As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory) May our hearts break for injustice and exploitation - whether abroad or in our own backyard. Spending a few days for @onedayswages in Thailand. Along with one of our board members, I'm traveling with a group of 10 others to learn, listen and visit a few NGOs including one of our partners, @thefreedomstory. Couple days ago, we spent an evening walking through Soi Cowboy. On a given night, about 10,000 people are in the ring of prostitution in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Patpong. Much of this is driven by the consumer demand. Approximately 70% of male tourists go to Thailand for the sex industry.

Human trafficking is complex. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or selling you something. 
To reduce it to simple terms, or simple problems, or simple solutions…cause harmful consequences. While we can all agree that it is sinful, egregious, evil, and wrong…there are many nuances and complexities. It would serve all of us to grow deep in the awareness not just of the larger issue but the nuances and complexities.

When people speak of human trafficking, they tend to be ‘attracted’ to the issue of sexual exploitation. Dare I say it, human trafficking has become trendy as a justice issue.

Clearly, it’s evil and egregious. But to reduce the entire issue of human trafficking into one form is not helpful. Because the mission is to fight the entire injustice of slavery. And if that’s the commitment, we have to not only combat sexual exploitation but engage in issues of poverty, forced labor, commercial exploitation in tourism, land rights and power abuses, organized crime networks, cultural and economic realities, etc.

Oh, it's so complex but we have to be engaged whether in Thailand or in our own backyards. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God... More thoughts to come.

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