Jesus Christ And Him Crucified
The Bible is not primarily, as many people think it is, a book about moral lessons, advice and instructions for living. The Bible is primarily a book about the great Gospel message of the crucified and resurrected Son of God – Jesus Christ – for the eternal salvation of all who believe, and how people ought to be in light of that.
The Apostle Paul was called and sent by Jesus with the task of bringing this Gospel to the whole world which would ‘open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’ (Acts 26:28).
So what message did Paul preach which would accomplish this among all the nations of the world? Paul, as a matter of first importance, preached the following message:
“I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… so we preach and so you believed.” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
This is the message of top priority! This is number one – the focus and first concern. This is the message above all others and, in fact, in all others. This is the way Paul saw it:
“And I, when I came to you, brothers and sisters, did not come proclaiming to you the mystery of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2
To Paul, ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ was the sum total of the message of the Bible and the sum total of the message of salvation. To know this message is to know what the Bible is about; to not know that message is not to know what the Bible is about. This is the message that opens eyes, turns people from darkness to light, from Satan to God, and gives forgiveness of sins and a place among those who have been sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. It was everything to Paul, and it should be everything to us! The message of Christ crucified and raised is ‘unsearchable riches’ (Ephesians 3:8) and was, in fact, so beautiful that it was beyond the imagination of mankind before it happened:
“None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him”’ – 1 Corinthians 2:8-9
What did God do that never entered the heart of man? What did God do which had never been heard of? What had God prepared which mankind could never imagine? That God would crucify His Son – the Lord of glory – for the eternal salvation and glory of all sinful people who would believe. Nobody ever imagined or dreamed that God would do this for us – that God was this dedicated to saving us – that God loved us in this way. It never entered the heart of man what God had prepared for those who love Him.
But, ‘These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit… that we might understand the things freely given us by God’ (1 Corinthians 15:10-12). To us the message has now been revealed! We now know what we could never have imagined! What God has freely given to us has been revealed! ‘God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit’. What is the Spirit? Everything needed to get you to understand the things freely given to you by God: the word of God, someone to preach, a heart which wanted to know, attentive ears, ability to understand, particular life circumstances, maybe even this article you’re reading! etc etc. Everything that worked in your life to bring you to understand the Gospel in Jesus Christ is the work of the Spirit.
Paul taught the message of Christ crucified as first importance. Clearly then, it is the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified we need most. What people need more than anything else in life, is the power of the message that nobody could have ever imagined! This is the message that ‘turned the world upside down’ in Paul’s time (Acts 17:6). This is the message that exploded Christianity worldwide and changed more lives than all other messages combined. Who could have ever envisaged that the God whom ‘the heavens of the heavens cannot contain’ (2 Chronicles 6:18), would lovingly give the life of His own Son Jesus, by crucifixion, and raise him to immortal glory, to achieve all that was necessary for the salvation of sinful people?
This Gospel is ‘unsearchable riches’ (Ephesians 3:8), ‘unsearchable and inscrutable’, ‘past finding out’ (Romans 11:33), and ‘surpasses knowing’ (Ephesians 3:19). But this does not mean ‘complicated’; it means ‘unfathomably beautiful’, which often the simplest and humble minds can grasp most! But nevertheless, it means that this attempt to express its grandness is a grossly insufficient portrayal of its true value. May God’s Spirit turn our hearts attention to the most glorious and beautiful message in the world – the message of Jesus Christ and him crucified.