Are You an Unmarked Grave?

A few days ago, I was reading through the Gospel of Luke for personal Bible study. I came across Luke’s account of Jesus’ “woes” to the Pharisees, more famously known and recalled from Matthew 23. In Luke 11: 44, Jesus makes a statement to the Pharisees I’ve never really slowed down to consider, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

That’s a strange comment, isn’t it? We need the background of His statement to really understand Jesus’ point. According to the Law of Moses, if someone touched a grave of the deceased, they were deemed “unclean” for seven days. (Numbers 19:16) Therefore, the Pharisees would “white wash” tombs to prevent people from touching them. They also white washed tombs to make them “stand out” in the cemetery. What’s Jesus’ point? Even though Pharisees want to “stand out” like white washed tombs (just like wanting to be called “Rabbi”), and even though they want to appear clean and pure (cleaning the outside of the dish but neglecting the inside), when people spent time with Pharisees, they left “unclean” from the Pharisees’ influence. They would be “touched” by the Pharisees’ teachings and traditions, and without realizing it, they would be damaged by the interaction. This was obviously a statement the Pharisees didn’t appreciate. It stood diametrically opposed to everything they wanted to accomplish. One of the many reasons why the Pharisees so desperately wanted Jesus killed.

But if you’ll humor me, I want to offer a different “twist” to Jesus’ statement. Though it wasn’t His original intention for saying these words, consider this thought:  Are you an “unmarked grave”? Do people walk right over your “life” without knowing it?

I’m not asking if you’re “shy” or “introverted”. I’m not wondering if you’re the life of the party.  I’m not even referencing isolation or loneliness. I’m talking about influence. If you died tomorrow, would people even know you were gone? How big of an imprint did you make, or are you making, in the sand of your colleagues’ lives?

Sociologists estimate the average person will meet 10,000 different people in their lifetime. In all of those meetings and conversations, did you make a difference? If your funeral was held next week, how many people would attend, honoring your days and grieving your passing?

The American Way has become the obsession of SELF. Our influence doesn’t reach beyond our fingertips—it often fails to pass our knuckles. Why? We tend to only worry about us—our own interests and importance.

Don’t make that mistake. Don’t be someone who won’t be missed. Don’t be a life that leaves nothing behind to cherish.

When you entered this world, you began writing your legacy. How will your story end? Heaven is certainly the goal, but when you cross the finish line, what will the “runners” left behind say about how you ran your race? Will your grave be marked and found, or unmarked and forgotten?

Jacob Hawk serves as the Pulpit Minister for Faith Village Church of Christ in Wichita Falls, Texas. He holds both bachelor and master’s degrees in Bible from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He and his wife, Natalie, have three sons-Hayden, Hudson, and Hewitt.