For I purposed not to know any thing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: so that your faith should not be based on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Cor 2:2-3)
Faced with the challenge of Corinth, Paul rolled up his sleeves and got right down to basics. He determined to put aside all other practical and doctrinal issues and focused entirely on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. But why does Paul mention 'Him crucified', and not 'Him resurrected'? Because the Crucifixion may be heard and believed, but the Resurrection must be seen to be believed. When Paul preached the Crucifixion, then God demonstrated the Resurrection. (Mark 16:20, Acts 4:24-31).
Paul not only preached the Crucifixion, he lived the Crucifixion (2 Cor. 4:10-12). Crucifixion is not putting yourself to death. Rather, it is yielding yourself up to death at the hands of others. The crucified victim doesn't get to choose his own death (John 13:37-38, 21:18). Crucifixion is not always a glorious, heroic martyrdom, say as a prophet or missionary. My crucifixion may mean my being placed in a boring, lifeless job, hour after hour occupied with meaningless trivialities, laboring among coworkers who either couldn't care less about the gospel or who are Christians equally benumbed and frustrated as myself.
When facing the Cross, Jesus refused any sort of anesthetic -- He faced His ordeal fully aware and fully cognizant. The worst part about Crucifixion is, though the body is pinned down the mind remains free to wander through the "what ifs": "What if I had done things differently? What if this is all a big mistake? What if I were set free--what great things I could do!" In a contemporary context, for one who is encumbered and immobilized by mundane responsibilities, the mind is still free to indulge in regrets and bitter fantasies about what might have been. It's bad enough being thirsty, but it's far worse to be thirsty and have water dangled invitingly in front of your face, just out of reach.
Crucifixion is endurable because of the joy set before us. Though we sow with tears, we shall reap with joy (Psalm 126:5). When we are energized by faith, our apparently meaningless existence becomes suffused with significance. Consider the Levitical priests in the Old Testament, who through the centuries performed millions of rituals and sacrifices which in themselves were entirely ineffective to achieve remission of sins. On the surface, it appears that these priests accomplished absolutely nothing. However the priesthood was ordained by God, and their work provided a context for the coming of the Messiah. It is only through their sacrifices that we are able to understand the deep significance of Jesus' self-sacrifice. Similarly, our apparently meaningless daily activities prepare the way for His coming again, however absurd or ineffective they may appear.
Prayer:Lord Jesus, teach me to live daily on the Cross. Reveal to me the fellowship of Your sufferings, so that I may know the power of your resurrection (Phil. 3:10). Open my eyes to see the joy set before me. Move my heart to offer sacrifices pleasing unto You, however meaningless or ineffective they may seem to me. Turn my valley of weeping into a place of springs (Psalm 84:6). Strengthen me to be patient and faithful until the time of Your coming. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for loving me, and placing Your love within me.
Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: March 20, 1999
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