2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.…
I. THE QUIET COURAGE WHICH LOOKS DEATH FULL IN THE FACE WITHOUT A TREMOR. The language implies that Paul knows his death hour is all but here. As the revised version more accurately gives it, "I am already being offered" — the process is begun, his sufferings at the moment are, as it were, the initial steps of his sacrifice — "and the time of my departure is come." The tone in which he tells Timothy this is very noticeable. There is no sign of excitement, no tremor of emotion, no affectation of stoicism in the simple sentences.
1. We may all make our deaths a sacrifice, an offering to God, for we may yield up our will to God's, and so turn that last struggle into an act of worship and self-surrender.
2. To those who have learned the meaning of Christ's resurrection, and feed their souls on the hopes that it warrants, death is merely a change of place or state, an accident affecting locality, and little more. We have had plenty of changes before. Life has been one long series of departures. This is different from the others mainly in that it is the last, and that to go away from this visible and fleeting show, where we wander aliens among things which have no true kindred with us, is to go home, where there will be no more pulling up the tent-pegs, and toiling across the deserts in monotonous change. How strong is the conviction, spoken in that name for death, that the essential life lasts on quite unaltered through it all! How slight the else formidable thing is made. We may change climates, and for the stormy bleakness of life may have the long still days of heaven, but we do not change ourselves.
II. THE PEACEFUL LOOK BACKWARDS. We may feel like a captain who has brought his ship safe across the Atlantic, through foul weather and past many an iceberg, and gives a great sigh of relief as he hands over the charge to the pilot, who will take her across the harbour bar and bring her to her anchorage in the landlocked bay where no tempests rave any more for ever. Such an estimate has nothing in common with self-complacency. It coexists with a profound consciousness of many a sin, many a defeat, and much unfaithfulness. It belongs only to a man who, conscious of these, is "looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life," and is the direct result, not the antagonist, of lowly self-abasement, and contrite faith in Him by whom alone our stained selves and poor broken services can ever be acceptable. Let us learn too that the only life that bears being looked back upon is a life of Christian devotion and effort. It shows fairer when seen in the strange cross lights that come when we stand on the boundary of two worlds, with the white radiance of eternity beginning to master the vulgar ell lamps of earth, than when seen by these alone. All others have their shabbiness and their selfishness disclosed then.
III. THE TRIUMPHANT LOOK FORWARD. That crown, according to other words of Scripture, consists of "life" or "glory" — that is to say, the issue and outcome of believing service and faithful stewardship here is the possession of the true life, which stands in union with God, in measure so great, and in quality so wondrous that it lies on the pure locks of the victors like a flashing diadem, all ablaze with light in a hundred jewels. The completion and exaltation of our nature and characters by the illapse of "life" so sovereign and transcendent that it is "glory" is the consequence of all Christian effort here in the lower levels, where the natural life is always weakness and sometimes shame, and the spiritual life is at the best but a hidden glory and a struggling spark. There is no profit in seeking to gaze into that light of glory so as to discern the shapes of those who walk in it, or the elements of its lambent flames. Enough that in its gracious beauty transfigured souls move as in their native atmosphere! Enough that even our dim vision can see that they have for their companion "One like unto the Son of Man." It is Christ's own life which they share; it is Christ's own glory which irradiates them.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.