The Meaninglessness of Resurrection Without Death

September 11, 2017

Philippians 3:10-11

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

CONSIDER THIS

This one is a rememberizer.

There are places in Scripture, passages and even single verses that capture the essence of the whole Bible. They distill thousands of words into a sentence or two and in doing so they capture essence and purpose and even passion. This is one of those texts. I reprint it below in the particular version in which I rememberized it.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  (NIV 1984 version)

It does not begin with “I should,” or “I ought to,” or “I need,” or “I wish,” or “I think.” It says, “I want,” which lands us in the realm of longing and desire and deep will.

Note also it does not say I want to know “about” Christ. This is not mere knowing for knowledge’s sake. This is the knowing of deep personal relationship; the knowing of deep calling to deep.

So what does this entail. It can’t mean whatever we want it to mean. In the last chapter Paul gave us the resplendent vision of the mind of Christ. Remember the \/ pattern? Paul makes very clear in the next several words exactly what it mean to know Christ. 1. It means knowing the power of his resurrection. 2. It means sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings. 3. It means becoming like him in his death. 4. It means the resurrection of the body at the end of the age and life, life and more life for all the ages to come.

We are all a big yes to #1 and #4. #2 and #3 can be another story. We mistakenly think of Resurrection as #1 and #4 and of the Cross as #2 and #3. The Cross is the whole thing. The Cross is the movement of death and resurrection. We do not get one without the other. There is no knowing Jesus apart from the Cross, which means there is no knowing Jesus apart from the grand movement of death and resurrection. What does resurrection even mean apart from death?

Let me repeat, there is no knowing the power of his resurrection without sharing in the fellowship of his suffering, and becoming like him in his death. This is the royal way of the holy Cross to borrow A’kempis phrase.

One more thing. Participating in his sufferings and becoming like him in his death is not a grit your teeth and bear it kind of experience. It is the journey of learning to love like God loves. In fact, this is the core essence of discipleship to Jesus—the way of the Cross—the way of the Great Love.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who is himself the perfect embodiment of the Love of God. I want to know this love, which is to say I want to know him. Lead me in this way of the Cross, this path of death and resurrection, all the days of my life. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever thought of the Cross as both death and resurrection? Does this make sense to you?
  2. How are you growing in your understanding of sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings? What does this mean to you?
  3. “I want to know Christ.” On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest value) where do you scale yourself?

P.S. Let’s be praying for our friends in Florida who are facing the destruction of Irma. They will not be defeated because they are strong in the Lord.

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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