The great paradox of Christianity is that in order to live, we must die–but I thought Christ came to die for us?
1:1 The proverbs of Solomon…6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Jesus Christ died for us on the cross to draw all people unto Him (John 12:32). As I see it, His death was two-fold:
- Even dying the worst death imaginable at the hands of wicked men (of which we are, by nature, part of that group), He forgave us. Completely. For all time.
- Jesus went through death and came out on the other side in order to pave the way for all of us. He was the first fruits of all who would rise from the dead. “As the early church fathers testify (from Irenaeus to Athanasius, to the two Gregorys, Cyril and Maximus the Confessor), If Christ were merely God, He could not die. But if He were merely man, he could not defeat death. So Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, enters death by death to annihilate death itself. This victory is made complete and manifest in the resurrection and ascension of Christ.”*
But, accepting His gift of forgiveness and new life is not just a one-time event. He is now our Lord. Learning to follow His orders rather than our own (or Satan’s) is now the major effort of our lives. W e must understand that in our minds, we have lived our lives where we exalted ourselves above God, or at least, to the same level as God by choosing our own way. Jesus calls us to take the cruciform path (the way of the cross) and “crucify” ourselves, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23), which means to submit to the Lordship of Christ as if we had died and He lives through us. Thus, we have this attitude from the apostle Paul,
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
I love the phrase, “If anyone would come after me,” because it emphasizes intention of the will. We must determine in our hearts that He is who we want and that we are willing to take up our cross to follow Him. I also love the word, “daily,” because it emphasizes that following Jesus is not just a one-time event, but an everyday lifestyle. We, therefore, exercise a living death, a foretaste of what is to come. We know by His promises that we will die and then be reborn with our heavenly bodies to live physically and literally with Christ.
Good News, right?
Abba, help me get it through my thick skull that the cruciform life (the way of the cross) is the only way to live. It’s what You meant by losing my life to find it in You. May I live continuously in Your death so that I can experience Your life. Amen.
*What ‘Christ Died for our Sins’ Meant to the Fathers – Brad Jersak, point 4-C