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Gospel of Mark 9: 30-32 (NIV)
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
I lost my best mate this past week. I fear that he was “lost”, in the full sense of the word.
He and I had trained together for four years. We were both Army engineers. We served in Vietnam together. We both came home relatively unscathed. We served together in Papua New Guinea and then in the United Kingdom. He was best man at my wedding.
Less than a year ago he learned that, because of a particularly aggressive cancer, he would never walk again. I gave him a pocket New Testament and a large-print Gospel according to Mark. He dutifully read the latter, “because of our friendship, that’s all”.
When I visited him earlier this month, his oncologist had told him that he had another twelve months or so to live. We made plans for a celebration come the end of the year.
On the morning after his death, as I was trekking through the Australian bush, I asked Jesus to have mercy on his soul. I heard this: “My death, when I was delivered into the hands of men, was for your friend as much as it was for you. He had the freedom to choose whether he would accept me or not. I gave him the freedom to make that choice just as I have given it to you. The gift was there; it was entirely up to him what he would do with it. The choice was his.”
Lord Jesus, I hold this man up to you. Eternity without you would be unbearable! He was a faithful husband and a good father. Perhaps he made his peace with you in the final days. Have mercy on his soul. Amen.
Psalm 1: 1-3 (NIV)
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither –
whatever they do prospers.