For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2)
What a powerful statement, and one we should all take hold of and make it the foundation of our christian life! Nothing – no promise, no blessing, no wisdom, no truth – in the Word of God has any relevance outside the truth of ‘Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ Without the cross, Christianity would have no relevance at all.
Yet we often stop at the cross, and miss the full relevance of the death of Christ on behalf of mankind. The cross cannot be taken in isolation. When we see the cross, think of the cross, talk of the cross, we need to see it as ‘the narrow gate’ rather than a final destination. The most powerful truth embodied in the cross is not merely that Christ died, but that He rose again!
1 John 3: 8 tells us: ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.’ It is perfectly correct to say that Jesus died for our sins, for our healing, for our deliverance, that we might become sons of God. He did. All this is the truth, but it is not the absolute truth. Jesus had to die so that He could rise again. That is how He defeated the powers of darkness and death. The cross was the gateway to resurrection and victory.
Our lives should be focused on, centred around, built on Christ and ‘him crucified,’ but it needs to be the whole truth. Seeing only the crucifixion limits what God intended, and limits our ability to lead a full christian life. The resurrection is the victory, both for Jesus and for us as his followers. This is what sets christianity apart from all other religions. This is what releases the power of God in our loves – his grace, his mercy, his promises.
More than anything, we need, with Jesus, to pass through the ‘narrow gate’ into being ‘a new creation’. It’s not easy. It defies logic. But when we see the cross as death and resurrection, we see the totality of what God intended for his people. That is an eternal truth that transcends all things and defines the very nature of the heart of God. As disciples, we are called to know only this.
Everything else in the Word is founded on this single, vital, all-encompassing reality: the victory of the cross, the purpose of the cross, lies in the resurrection after the cross. We must all pass through the narrow gate, with Christ, to eternal life, a life we are called to manifest in the world through living it here and now and being a witness to the awesome purposes of God.
Jesus, help me to always see the cross as you saw it, and never to limit the magnitude of what you did and what you achieved for us. Help me to walk with you through that narrow gate, so that I might live the full resurrection life and reveal you to the world in all things.