Throughout his earthly life, Wesley strived hard to proclaim the gospel. For instance, in his eighty seven years, Wesley:
-preached more than 45,000 sermons,
-traveled on horseback a distance equivalent to nine times around the world,
-wrote 233 books and pamphlets,
-and helped with the writing of 100 more.
But all of this was not enough- not for John Wesley. He went beyond this and found ways to witness to the love of God even in his death.
We are told that, among Wesley's funeral instructions was the request that his body be buried in nothing more costly than wool. There was to be no silk or satin adorning the corpse from which his spirit had fled.
More importantly, his last will and testament gave final seal to the gospel he had so long and courageously preached. In it, he directed that "whatever remains in my bureau and pockets at my decease," was to be equally divided among four poor itinerant preachers who had served under him.
He also specifically requested that neither a hearse nor a coach take any part in his funeral. Instead, he desired that “six poor men in need of employment” be given a pound each to carry his body to the grave.
When I read this article, I could not help but be reminded of the New Testament Bible verse from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:1-11). The English Standard Version states:
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Perhaps the most important word here is the word “emptied” from verse seven. In the original Koine Greek language if the New Testament, the word is “ekenosen”. It means “to completely empty out, to deprive of content, to make void”. And that is exactly what Jesus did for us. He gave all He had to give.
Equally as important, Paul is contending that we should be prepared as followers of Christ to do the same for others – to empty ourselves out on behalf of others. To Paul’s credit, church historians tell us that he followed the example of Christ and died a martyr for his faith.
All of this raise the question of just how willing you and I are to empty ourselves out for others? Wesley emptied his pockets, to be sure. But his life shows us that he did far more than this. He emptied himself. He gave up all earthly pursuits for the sake of the gospel. Family, career, wealth – and many of the other things we all tend to value.
I am humbled by his example; as I am by that of Paul. Above all, I am humbled by the example of Jesus. And I pray that I will always be willing to live a life of sacrifice in obedience to His will. I trust all believers everywhere do the same. What a difference that might make- both in this world and in the world to come!
J. Wesley Bready, "The Passing of a Prophet," Good News Magazine (July/Aug 1991).
Word Study from: http://biblehub.com/text/philippians/2-7.htm.