Memento Mori: Remember you too must die — Acts 12:1-3

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts we saw how the earliest believers anticipated trouble in this life and how their hearts were oriented toward heaven and how they weren’t looking for heaven in this life here on earth. If you want to, you can learn more here: God’s Way and Your Happiness: Acts 11:27-30. In today’s passage, we’ll receive a timely reminder.

Acts 12:1-2

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword . . .

Acts 12:1-2

It’s interesting that as I write this it’s the start of Memorial Day weekend, the time when we remember those who died in combat for our country. In our passage we’re remembering someone who died in service to his King. James died serving Jesus. James died, because he was serving Jesus.

The photo at the top of this post is a picture of the skull I have sitting on a corner of my desk. Memento mori is latin and the story goes that Roman generals marching in victory parades paid their slaves to whisper this latin phrase in their ear so they wouldn’t succumb to hubris. The phrase means: “Remember you too must die.” (Or words to that effect. The “90:12” I’ll leave for you to figure out on your own.)

The way life had gone up to this point might have led James and the other disciples to believe they had long lives ahead of them. After all, we saw in Acts chapter 5 how the Sadducees (filled with jealousy) arrested the apostles and put them in prison. And then we saw how God freed them from prison, and how they continued to share Jesus with the world, saving thousands, and turning the world upside down. (Acts 5:17-26) So it may be that James and the other disciples of Jesus thought, because God had work for them to do, they would be rescued again from persecution.

But it didn’t happen that way for James.

And it wouldn’t be long before it wouldn’t happen that way for most of the others as well. Tradition has it that all but John were martyred for their faith in Jesus.

Whether you or I die a violent death for the cause of Christ, or if we die in some other manner, one thing is certain, we’ll all go the way of all the earth. And that day is coming soon.

Life is so fragile.

Life is so short.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for a single one of us.


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Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

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  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.

A life of loving like Jesus.

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5 Comments on “Memento Mori: Remember you too must die — Acts 12:1-3

  1. Pingback: Whatever Happens, True and Just are Your Judgements–Acts 12:1-11 | God Running

  2. Good post. As we get older it becomes readily apparent that life is short.

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