Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Proclaim the Cross of Christ


Galatians 3:1-2, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”

Paul’s disappointment and anger are clearly seen in his words to the Galatians. He was disturbed in his heart because after they received the gospel by faith in the finished work of Christ, they turned back to the works of the law.

It is foolish to consider attaining salvation by works, and so calls Paul, “O foolish Galatians.” “Who has bewitched you?” This is a term of witchcraft. In other words, “Who has influenced you in an evil way?” To wander away from the biblical gospel is like being bewitched by the evil.

Vivid Proclamation of Christ's Crucifixion

Paul goes on to explain, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3:1b). Does this mean that the Galatians witnessed with their eyes the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Where was Christ crucified? In Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt. 16:21).

Where was Galatia? Galatia was a Roman Province, located near the central region of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). It is surrounded by Bithynia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Phrygia. The churches of Galatia include Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, which Paul visited in his first missionary journey.

Galatia and Jerusalem are separated by hundreds of miles. Then how did the Galatians witness with their eyes the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ?

This doesn’t speak about seeing the crucifixion of Christ with physical eyes. Paul didn’t say, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly crucified.” He said, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly PORTRAYED AS crucified.” This speaks about the public proclamation of the gospel of Christ Jesus with clear verbal description of Christ’s crucifixion.

The cross of Christ speaks of man’s sin for which He was crucified. The cross of Christ demonstrates God’s love towards sinners. The cross of Christ manifests the satisfaction of God’s justice. The cross of Christ reveals the propitiatory sacrifice of the Lord Jesus to reconcile man to God. The cross of Christ shows the only hope of man, which is to believe in the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus to receive God’s gift of eternal life. This is what the gospel of the cross is.

Paul's Passion for the Cross of Christ

When we examine the ministry of Paul, we observe that God had wrought great miracles through this man. He was a man filled with the knowledge of the Scriptures. He had supernatural experiences. He walked in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He was an extraordinary apostle. He was a church planter. He was a disciple-maker. He was a fund raiser who helped numerous needy believers.

In spite of all these great gifts and accomplishments, Paul’s focus and emphasis were on proclaiming the crucified Lord. Like the sun that shines, giving light to all the earth, so the cross of Christ shone over Paul’s entire ministry.

Elsewhere Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). He even said, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Paul didn’t proclaim the crucifixion of Christ as a passing remark, as many do today. The cross was not peripheral but absolutely central to his message. What the Lord Jesus did on the cross drove everything that Paul spoke and did. The message of the cross permeated every cell of his body.

When Paul preached the gospel to the people, the Lord Jesus was clearly presented to them as crucified. According to Paul, there is no gospel without the cross. How precisely, emphatically, vividly, passionately, magnificently, he proclaimed the gospel of Christ Jesus that it was as if the listeners saw the crucifixion of the Lord.

Proclaim the Cross of Christ

This is how we must proclaim the gospel. The listeners must clearly see with the eyes of the heart the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They may forget almost everything we speak but not the cross because of our vivid description of it and emphasis on it. Our proclamation of the gospel centered on the cross must leave an indelible mark on their minds.

It is the cross which discloses Christ as the unique Savior from all the so-called saviors of the world and of other religions. Jesus is the only Savior of the world because He is the only One who went to the cross to save the world. We cannot exalt Christ without elevating His cross.

Therefore, the effective presentation of the gospel is portraying before the eyes of people the Lord Jesus Christ as crucified. Let us resolve, like Paul, to proclaim Christ and Him crucified.

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