Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Can we be fanatic about the cross of Christ? Say too much about it? Make an issue of it to the exclusion of other themes? Get obsessed about His sacrifice?
If you had been a member of Paul's congregation in Corinth, you would have heard him preach Sabbath after Sabbath for a year and a half on much the same theme; you could have even predicted what his sermon would be about--"Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2). Were the young people bored?
Corinthians were a motley crowd of mostly immoral people. According to Strabo the historian, 1000 slave girls were temple prostitutes. "To Corinthianize" included moral corruption, greed, dishonesty--in general, a bad reputation. It was in everything--advertising, social life, commerce. How was Paul to reach people so saturated with it?
He had just come from a largely unsuccessful evangelistic campaign in Athens. Now he "determined to know nothing among" the Corinthians except the sacrifice of the Son of God. There was a steady focus on the "breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of the love (agape) of Christ that was demonstrated at the cross. Fanaticism? No. It was sober, clear-headed thinking on Paul's part.
All people except two (Enoch and Elijah) have died the first death--a "sleep." Christ's death was different. It's bad enough to die "despised and rejected of men" (Isa. 53:3); but He had to die feeling despised and rejected of God (Matt. 27:46), a cumulative, corporate, total death embracing all humanity, a divine-human consciousness of all the guilt of every person. That killed Him, "made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). We cannot encompass it; all we can do is to be prayed for by the apostle Paul that we might "comprehend" it "with all saints" and not be left out (Eph. 3:14-19).
When we meet Jesus face to face (as we shall, for certain) we don't want the embarrassment of not having wanted to "know Him," to have evaded "fellowship with Him in His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). To share with Paul what it means to be "crucified with Christ"--that will be glory.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 29, 2003.
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