Pastor In The Pasture Wendel Elliott: Ain’t Dyin’ It’s Livin’
Lately, the mini-series, Lonesome Dove has been on my mind. This highly acclaimed production was released 32 years ago and has been a favorite ever since. To the western way of life, ranching, and agriculture folks it is definitely a staple in movie libraries. We know the characters and have our favorites. Newt, Pea, Deets, Roscoe, Lorena, Call, and of course Gus. Along with the characters come the famous quotes that we all use during cattle works, day working, or neighboring. You’ll hear the typical, “Get on your horse Jasper, we got cattle to drive.” Or perhaps in the morning around the fire, “Suppose you’ve been up all night reading the Good Book.” Another favorite is when, “That ain’t the point,” is put forth at opportune times. These are a few of the lines that never seem to get old. I’m sure you have your favorites as well.
Probably the one line that carries the most weight, in my opinion, is when Gus utters, “It ain’t dyin’ I’m talkin’ about, it’s livin’!”
This reminds me of the time when Jesus has a visit from Nicodemus at night. You’ll find this in the book of John chapter 3:1-16. Nicodemus is a Pharisee and supposed to be an expert of the Mosaic Law. He comes to Jesus at night perhaps a little timid. He definitely has a human or carnal, worldly stand point. Plus he has questions regarding the truth of Jesus. The lost world (those that are in a state before putting their faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior) are today’s representation of Nicodemus. They are timid, possibly not wanting their friends to know they are seeking. This may have been Nicodemus’ reason for coming to Jesus at night. The lost world is also in a state of human or worldly thinking. It could be pride that stands in the way. It might be lies they’ve believed or have been telling themselves. Regardless of the first two the lost world still has questions, whether they want to admit it or not. They have questions about dying and living.
Nicodemus, we discover later, finally comes around to believing that Jesus is who He says He is and putting his faith and trust in Christ. He settles those questions about dying and living for himself. This interaction between Nicodemus and Jesus gives us a piece of Scripture that is probably the most known. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NASB)
Nicodemus, during this time of conversation winds up having more questions and confused. Jesus, finally has to say, “That ain’t the point… It’s not dyin’ I’m talkin’ about, it’s livin’!” Because of this time together Nicodemus winds up (eventually) with a spiritual mindset instead of worldly, a bold stature instead of timid, and a confident faith in Jesus. This time changes Nicodemus’ life so much so that we see him later at the Cross of Jesus providing for the burial of the One that taught him about life. The disciples witnessed at that place of burial, an empty tomb with the stone rolled away and a resurrected Savior.
The apostle Paul wrote about death and life. This is one of those passages: “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 NASB)
With all the fear and uncertainty that has seemed to plague the world lately, these words should bring us hope, joy, and peace. With this sure foundation we can all live in the here and now knowing our future is secure. That’s what Easter Resurrection Sunday is all about. It says to all…”it’s not dyin’ I’m talkin’ about, it’s livin’!”
I’ll see y’all out in the pasture!
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