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Man Tries to Negotiate with Death

In the opening scene of the 2016 film Collateral Beauty, advertising CEO Howard Inlet explains that his strategy is driven by three things. At the end of the day, (1) we long for love. (2) We wish we had more time. And (3) we fear death. These three things, Howard claims, drive every human act.

But then we see him three years later. His six-year-old daughter has died of cancer. It has destroyed him. In his lament at life, he writes letters to love and time and death. To death he writes: “You’re just pathetic and powerless middle management. You don’t even have the authority to make a simple trade.”

Later, he explains what he meant: “When we realized our daughter was dying, I prayed. Not to God or the universe. But to death. Take me. Leave my daughter.”

Like Howard, Jesus volunteered to make the trade for us. But unlike death in Howard’s mind, Jesus wasn’t middle-management. He was completely in control. He is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. Jesus really did die for us.


Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Jesus, Crossway books, 2022, page 158

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