What would you tell your kids on your dying bed?
Question : N.T. Wright, forward your life 40 years and your’e 100 years old and your grandkids are at your bed and what do you want them to know about Jesus?
Wright: It’s funny, having only recently lost my own father, I haven’t actually thought much about what it would be like when my children lose me, bless them. I think I want to tell them, “Just read the Gospels more”.
Many Christians in our day treat the Gospels, as a friend of mine said, as the optional chips and dips of the beginning of the meal, which people just take it or leave it, it’s nice stuff to crunch there and then you go to sit at the table and you have the red meat of Pauline theology and that’s where we’re all headed. And I want to say, “Hey, I love Paul. Paul is fantastic. He’s been the stuff of my life. But, the dynamism of the Gospels and the person who walks out of those pages to meet us is just central and irreplaceable and He’s always a surprise. We never have Jesus in our pockets. He’s always coming at us from a new angle.
I would like to say to them, try reading the Gospels in different ways. Read them as a run, but then try taking them into the stories and do what some traditions have done. Ponder that story and imagine yourself a character in that story, and wait and watch in the story while Jesus heals this man or talks to this old lady, or whatever. Then wait and watch and pray and watch until Jesus turns around and says to you , now, actually, “Can we have a chat with you about this? Where are you with this?” That is a way that many Christians have meditated on the Scriptures and with the Gospels, particularly. It’s a wonderful way and I would recommend that to anyone.
I think, the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus is perhaps the one which does this most, for most people because there, you have a sense which so many people are walking around without any idea of what’s happened, feeling sorrowful, feeling sad, puzzled. Jesus, Himself will come near and will be with them and open the Scriptures with them and then they recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.
So, I hope my children would know that I would say this anyway, but to say: Jesus is absolutely in the middle and if you want to know who God is; look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. And, go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but you are actually part of the drama which has Him as the central character.