Meditating on the work of Christ
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:2–5
Is not then this crucified Christ worth the knowing, who took such heavy burdens upon his own shoulders that they might not oppress ours; and suffered as a victim in the place of our guilty persons, to obtain an eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:14)? … And should we not know this crucified Christ, who hath weakened the venom of the serpent, broke the force of the tempter, vanquished him on the cross by the merit of his blood, and conquers him in us by the efficacy of his Spirit? … Is not a crucified Christ then worth the knowing, who hath not only destroyed Satan our enemy without us, but can destroy sin our enemy within us? … And should not this crucified Christ be studied, who hath settled the regions above for our reception and procured an entrance into that place, which justice by reason of our sin had else made for ever inaccessible to us?
Christ Crucified, pp. 37-42, Stephen Charnock
Hallelujah, he is risen! And if he is risen, he died and was buried. This Easter week we especially remember the death and resurrection of Christ. The Easter message grounds the whole of the Christian confession and life. When I was probably in High School, I came across this book, Christ Crucified, at Northwestern Book Store. I ended up buying it since my favorite book had mentioned this guy named Charnock. So I supposed I would like the book. And honestly, it blew my mind it was so good. If I had the money I’d buy everyone a copy every year. If you graduated from high school, I had at least warm intentions to give you this book. It’s so good because he just takes this jewel of an idea and spends his time slowly meditating on its glory. What I’ve included for you here is his exhortation. Isn’t knowing Christ crucified worth the knowing? Isn’t Christ crucified worth the knowing? And isn’t Christ crucified worth being studied? And the answer is, yes! Yes! Yes!
This is also the example of the apostle Paul: For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. In other words, he wanted the aroma of his presence to simply be Christ. You know the kind of people who after spending time with them, you can’t stop thinking about your interactions. Maybe it is when you first met your future spouse. Maybe it is when you first met your spouse’s really odd family, or maybe it was an embarrassing moment with someone or when you met someone you look up to. The point is we can often leave visiting with a person with strong memories and feelings. But Paul didn’t want to be remembered. He wanted to be invisible if only that meant that the Corinthians would better know Christ crucified.
And so the invitation to each of us is this: do you make it your aim first of all to know Christ crucified? Do you make it your aim to plant a seed in your relationships, to leave a fragrance of caring most that people know Christ as crucified and that you love Jesus more than all other things?
I read an article recently that basically said churches should have programs to teach people how to be friends. Now I think that we all need to grow in being truly friendly. But if we stop there then we’ve missed the mark. The mark of the Christian church is not only being friendly, but loving the unlovely and loving your enemies. In other words, we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the other. We forget the things we love because we want our enemy, our person-we-would-never-naturally-be-a-friend-of, to know the love of Christ. You see we must refashion that whole discussion (and every other one we might run into), so that our aim is that we make Christ known, and that we deepen our fellowship with others in Christ.
And we do this through Paul’s example of forgetting himself because he loved Jesus so much. And we make it our aim to cultivate a habit of meditating on the work of Christ and what it means to me and to my enemy and to the world. Because he suffered as a victim in our place; because he broke the force of the tempter against us and empowered us by his Spirit; because he destroyed Satan and our enemy sin inside of us. Because he’s preparing a place for us that we can only enter through his blood.