Impending death greatly concentrates the mind. The priorities get real sharp real fast. All kinds of things suddenly don't matter at all - and some things are more important than life itself.
Jesus' whole life was lived in the shadow of his death. We get hints of it every once in a while as we see the look in his eyes as he nears Jerusalem, or as he talks about the Kingdom of God, or as he gazes into sightless eyes, or as he speaks into open tombs. The look is that of a man who knows where he came from and where he is going. It is an uncommon look.
He had a single, simple focus. His life was concentrated by death. If his life seems somehow more vibrant and richer than those around him, perhaps that is why. Theirs were lived in varying shades of gray, his in the brilliant spectrum of every color of the rainbow. It is one of the reasons why people, even those who eventually turned away, were attracted to him in the first place. He was fully alive. And those near him seemed somehow to share in that life.
You only get to be that way - fully alive - by gazing steadily into your own tomb. By living with death as a way of life.
That defining gaze allowed him to embrace lepers; to play freely with children and others who could do him no good; say what needed to be said without fear; to let some people define themselves as his enemies; to risk ridicule and rejection. He not only marched to the beat of a different drummer, he had a whole new marching band playing out his life! He lived to please no one but his Father in Heaven.
And what is more, he invites us to do the same. He invites us to come and die with Him. To die daily. And having died, to really fully live. Those who have embraced their death have nothing left to lose. And are free to live - flamboyantly, vibrantly, completely - until the death they have embraced, embraces them - and ever after.