Grave Cloth

For I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified   1 Corinthians 2:2

Crucified – Did you notice that Paul does not mention what most of us would consider the most important element in Christian belief?  Paul doesn’t include the resurrection!  Does that surprise you?  It certainly should.  How can Paul say that he has decided to know nothing except the crucifixion?  Did he mean that the resurrection doesn’t matter?  Heaven forbid!

Paul is not delivering a message of salvation theology.  He is talking about character and attitude.  When it comes to presentation style, the emphasis is not on the glorious resurrection.  It is on the humility and obedience of the crucifixion.  Paul wants his readers to know that he came to them in fear, trembling and utter humility.  He didn’t come as a great scholar, a tremendous preacher or a powerful evangelist.  He came as a servant of the crucified God.

Imagine how we would act if Paul were scheduled to preach at our church next Sunday.  Would we rush to the media, proclaiming his worldwide fame?  Would we pile on the accolades, invite dignitaries, make sure that the local networks were present?  Would we attempt to mimic Hollywood in our promotional campaign?  Probably.  We would have missed Paul’s point.  The message of the gospel comes clothed in the rags of righteousness. 

How will I recognize those rags?  Easy.  They were washed in humility.  Wherever I find the saving message of Jesus soaked in personal ego deflation, I know that I am in the presence of someone who serves the King.  When I am confronted by proud proclamation or personal inflation, I can be pretty sure that righteous rags are not hanging in the closet.

Paul puts the emphasis on the crucifixion so that we will recognize that maximum service to others is accompanied by great personal humility.  Paul emphasizes the crucifixion so that we will understand that it is God’s power through our obedience that brings the saving message to the world.  Paul underlines the crucifixion so that you and I will be confronted with the necessity of abandoning our agendas, no matter what it costs to do so.

The Greek word stauroo (to crucify) always precedes resurrection glory.  If you want to see God’s handiwork operating through your life, then you will have to carry your cross to the hill and submit to the crucifixion of your ego.  If you want your brothers and sisters to see God’s glory through your attitudes and actions, you will have to feel the nails and the spear.  Crucifixion means death.  There is no other road to life with Jesus.  Go find a dead man speaking for Jesus and you will be in the presence of life everlasting.

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